Teresa Tyler, English Teacher, Albemarle High School
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
I am always trying to find new strategies and information that I can use in my classes. I attend workshops and classes and travel when I can. From these experiences, at least ten percent of what is offered makes it back to my classroom, at least for a trial run. About ten percent of that actually becomes embedded in my lessons over time. It may seem like a lot of work for a small gain, but over the years I have attempted to develop a balanced blend of content and strategies. I teach a great number of ancient texts and it is important to keep things fresh.
What is the most common misconception about your job?
I think that many people in the public picture teachers doing what they did in TV shows from the sixties—the students work quietly at their desks, the teacher sits at his or her desk, and when the student has a question he politely comes up to the desk and the teacher helps him. Our classrooms are much more interactive and student-centered and the teacher almost never sits down.
Where do you see the teaching field in five years?
I have two separate and distinct visions of the teaching field in five years—one that I fear and the other that I embrace. I fear that the field of teachers will grow older and older as young teachers continue to leave the field for other jobs. Unless we find a way to make the profession appealing to the twenty-somethings, then we will not be able to retain them in the profession.
I also picture the continuation of the trend of student-centered learning. Teachers will continue to act as facilitators who provide ground and structure for students to pursue their own learning. With continuing innovations in technology, students have more choices about how and where they learn. Trying to provide meaningful choices for students is one of the challenges for public schools in the near future.
What outside experience best prepared you to become an educator?
Working in restaurants as a waitress, bartender, and manager was great preparation for becoming an educator. People see us as servants, and in a way we are. We serve our community, but we are also masters—masters at building relationships, inspiring others, dispersing content. Anyone that has ever worked as a server in restaurant knows the balancing act required. Teachers have to multi-task in much the same way.