Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I stand at the door as they swarm into the room- 18, 19, 20. There should be 21, but I know that the last will arrive late. The variety of needs is great; some need intensive services right away, while others can wait until a little later; but they ALL require the products of my training nonetheless. I can’t believe every day this happens that I’m in charge of such an enormous range of needs every second of the day that I work my job. I do, however, know that I’m responsible for each and every life here, and it is my support that will help determine if they have a future. Thinking back to my internship- my on the ground training- I recall the adversities from back then as I face some of the same issues now, and I feel confident that I have had the intense, rigorous, specific training (and passed the multiple licensing exams) my field requires to save these lives.

Taking down the chairs, they put their snack on their desks, chat a little with friends, and get out books to read as the lunch count is called. Within moments every child has picked one or two learning activities for later, to keep them engaged while the teachers are teaching small reading groups.

Wait. Did you think I was a doctor? No. I am a teacher.

The profession of my heart has been quite discouraging as of late. In my district, my state, and my country the tide of education is changing and churning. It seems like everywhere a teacher turns, discouraging news reports and negative newspaper articles crash over him. Policymakers and Successmakers (who I also fondly refer to as teachers) need more than ever to work together; but first we must know each other.

I am a second grade teacher. I have been educated by an accredited undergraduate college where I obtained my Bachelors of Science in Education with a 3.78 grade point average. I also earned a Master’s Degree in Education with a 3.98 average. As I said before, I passed multiple licensing exams to earn my certification.

I am a teacher, and I teach in Schenectady, New York. I am also the 2012 New York State Teacher of the Year. For many readers, that probably makes them think that I am the “best teacher in New York”. This is absolutely untrue. Instead, I am a representative sample of the teachers in New York. As a matter of fact, I believe I am a representative sample of the teachers in Schenectady. I believe this because I did not form in a bubble, as I like to say. I became the teacher I am today, the New York State Teacher of the Year, because of the support and inspiration of my colleagues here in Schenectady. I have emulated the teachers around me since I first began teaching in 1998. Who I am, as a teacher, is in large part an imitation of the teachers who I’ve worked with throughout the years.

Since becoming a teacher, like the teachers I have worked with, I have taken numerous professional development courses in reading, writing, math, behavior management, working with parents, science, education policy, differentiated instruction, suicide, bullying, Therapeutic Response, and technology to remain current in educational research and practice. During the rare year that I did not take an official course in professional development, I read professional books and articles regularly, as well as collaborated with colleagues to discuss methods and best practices.

I am highly qualified to teach my students. I teach with expertise as well as enthusiasm. It is not enough to say that I care about my students- which of course I do, deeply. It goes without saying that my love of teaching rests in the students I teach.  But let it be known that I select individual, research based methods that match my students’ learning styles. Let it be known that after getting to know each and every child in my class through personal interaction as well as both formative and summative assessments, I select instructional methods to deliver the Common Core State Standards that will best suit our class, as well as individuals. I collaborate with other teachers at the same grade level, above and below my grade level, as well as with other education professionals on a daily basis to ensure sound instruction for my students.

I know my students. I know where they began their year in my class, and how far they’ve come. I know how to evaluate their progress and report it to parents. But more importantly, I KNOW that every child in my class can and will learn. I will never relent in teaching them, and I will never allow them to give up on themselves. I have never, nor will I ever wash my hands of any child. If they don’t know it, I will find a way for them to do it. I will scaffold their instruction and use my vast training to teach them at their level and help them achieve their fullest potential. I do this because it is my calling, and because I know their life depends on it. I do this because I am a teacher.

I am not just a teacher. I am a teacher. I am an educator. I’m a go-getter, do-better, self-reflecting master. I educate, facilitate, create, and negotiate. I’m a collaborator and an innovator, an achiever, a believer, and a tattletale receiver! Teaching is the most challenging, complex, incredibly rewarding, exceedingly difficult profession in the world and I love this job and I’d do it for free- but really you should pay me more. I’m a life-changing, mind-molding motivator every single day that I teach. I’m a teacher, and I teach in Schenectady, New York.