OMMGGGGOOOSSSH!!! (yes, I just squealed and NO you cannot judge me for spelling, fellow educators!) Heather!Heather!Heather! She is another (clearly phenomenal) educator whom I don't know personally but after reading through her responses twice, I can honestly say any student who is taught by her is blessed. She seems like such a fun and lovely soul (she said howdy so that MUST mean she's fun!). Thank you, Heather, for joining in the fun! I hope everyone else reading this feels as happy and fuzzy as I did when they're done!
Name: Heather Green
Tell us who you are! How long have you been working in the education field? What school district are you in?
Howdy, from Texas! I’m Heather Green from Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, near Dallas. I’m currently in my 13th or 14th year as an educator. Time flies and becomes irrelevant when you’re having fun!
What subject/ grade do you teach?
I currently teach a technology applications class to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, but I’ve previously taught science as well as a college awareness and preparatory program known as AVID. I also serve as the social-emotional lesson writer for my campus. That’s an exciting new component to my work. I’m a hybrid teacher! I spend a portion of my day in the classroom with students and a portion of my day managing the social-emotional learning program.
Who was your favourite teacher when you were a student? What made them stand out from the rest?
My favorite teacher turns out to be perhaps my most rigorous teacher with high expectations. Mrs. Kay Stroud, my high school biology teacher, ran a tight ship and held everyone accountable for learning. I disrupted often in her class – total disclosure – so once I became an educator I gained immense respect for her and the profession. I also sincerely, in retrospect, apologized to Mrs. Stroud!
What was learning like growing up for you? Easy, challenging?
I’d say that learning for me leaned a bit on the easy side of the spectrum. I also did not apply myself adequately, so I feel confident admitting that had I done so, school would have been infinitely more challenging for me.
Who or what inspired you to become an educator?
My journey to becoming an educator was by total accident! I initially took a position in youth social services once I graduated from college. I enjoyed the work so much that it became a calling, a passion. My last social service position housed me at a school campus. I was fortunate enough to be encouraged by a now-retired principal who encouraged me to obtain my teaching credentials. The rest is joyful, challenging, rewarding history.
Describe what your dream classroom would look like.
Oh gosh, natural light. ALL the natural light! I despise overhead lighting at work and at home. So, windows upon windows upon windows would be present! I’d have flexible learning furniture that allows for varied seating arrangements. Right now I’m in a hard wired computer lab so flexible seating is rather un-flexible. I would incorporate a reading/lounge area, which is a big hit with students! There would also be a cool down area with a small amount of privacy through the use of a folding screen. I don't lecture but I would incorporate white board space on walls and surfaces for student collaboration and design.
Tell us about a challenging moment you’ve faced in the classroom. How did you deal with it?
My first year or two of teaching was chock full of challenging moments. Thank goodness I’ve learned so much since then! There was a particular student conduct challenge in my very first year of teaching that I’ve never, ever forgotten. Looking back, I’m chagrinned to admit I handled most of the student’s outbursts and disruptions poorly. It took me a few more years of teaching, lots of professional reading, and guidance from experienced teachers to equip myself with strategies to face situations like that in the classroom. Writing my school’s social-emotional lessons has taught me as much as the lessons have taught the students, too! Educators must remember that we are the adults, students are the children. If they were simply mini-adults, they wouldn’t need our measured responses and wise guidance.
What gets you pumped up before entering the classroom? (ex. music, car dance party, coffee?)
Honestly? The fact that educating doesn’t feel like a “job” to me is what pumps me up daily. There are the occasional days where I’m feeling less than enthused about the early mornings, late evenings, or demanding work, but by and large, I’m eager to see my students and colleagues. I won’t turn down the coffee support, however.
What makes you a great educator? (Come on, toot your horn!)
I’ve developed a lot of patience and perspective since my first or second rocky year of teaching. I bring my humor and normally easy-going nature into my lessons and interactions with students. They know I care about them while I still hold them to firm expectations.
If your students could describe you, what would they say?
I had a student once tally on a notecard how many times I smiled in one class period. So, I’d bet they would say I’m often smiling, if not laughing.
What do you do to enhance your personal learning?
I’m all over Twitter, almost daily. I follow a few news accounts, a few personal interest accounts, but the overwhelming majority of people I follow are educators. This leads to routinely consuming education blog posts, education articles, or professional book recommendations.
How do you balance your personal life from your teaching life?
This is always a work in progress. Recently, I’ve become adept at shutting it all down by a certain time in the evening, or even as I leave campus. If this means I place my digital devices in airplane mode, so be it. I also have become more accepting of the fact that the work will never be done, so I don’t berate myself when tasks are left unfinished before I rest. I do quite a bit of traveling with my husband, tons of personal reading, and regular dates with Netflix and the couch.
Do you do enough to maintain your personal well-being?
I think I’m better than some, but I have room for improvement. Taking challenges in stride, keeping negative emotions out of the classroom, and enjoying free time the fullest are all ways that keep me fresh and healthy. I try to stay physically active, too.
What do you love most about teaching?
I referenced this earlier, but the fact that this work doesn’t feel like work (normally), is what I adore most. I sincerely feel lucky to do what I do as a profession.
If you could talk to your younger self (ex. elementary student, high school student, post-secondary) what would you say?
Be bold! Dream wild dreams and don’t sell yourself short. In hindsight, I punched through a checklist of milestones to reach the point I’m at now in my career. I have zero regrets, but had I thought a bit outside the box when I was younger and in college, I may have surprised myself!
There may be teachers reading this who are in need of a reminder why they’re great educators? What would you say to help lift their spirits?
The work educators are doing is, in my mind, as important as any other service profession. Despite the negative climate in many areas surrounding schools and the pervasive myth held by some that teachers aren’t real professionals, prove them incorrect by marching forward and changing lives…every single day.
Jam Gamble - Connector of People, Ideas and Energy