Erika Trent, Social Studies Teacher, Walker Upper Elementary School
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
This is year 15 for me in the teaching profession and the most challenging aspect of my job has been the same for all of those years. I find that I often want more for my students than they believe they can deliver. Convincing a struggling student that they can achieve extraordinary things with a little extra effort is no easy task. Their fear of failure is often greater than their desire for success. However, I have learned to keep pushing them and to celebrate the small victories.
What’s the most common misconception about your job?
People who are not teachers often joke that we teach in order to have our summers off. The truth is we are never “off.” We are constantly thinking of new ways to reach students. During the summer teachers attend conferences, write curriculum, review textbooks for adoption, or simply email colleagues with ideas and questions for the upcoming year. Few teachers work contract hours only.
Where do you see the teaching field in five years?
While there is a huge push toward increase use of technology in the classroom I predict that in five years we will see a return to some of the basics. Children need to read more books and practice math on paper. Teaching is an interpersonal relationship that students can not get from a computer. Teachers will always be needed in the classroom to bridge the gaps that technology can not cover.
What outside experience best prepared you to become a teacher?
My experiences came from inside my home. I am the child of educators; both of my parents were educators for over 30 years in the Charlottesville City Schools system. From an early age the importance of the teaching profession was instilled. I had a front row seat to the joys and challenges of teaching. After my eleventh year of teaching I left the profession for two years and worked in the mental health field. I returned with a renewed spirit and dedication to helping others achieve their best.