Readers, I am so excited to share with you May's "Inspirational People" interview. I choose Angela, whom I have been following on instagram since I started one a few months ago, because of the connection I felt when I first discovered her. I am always excited to find people that teach, because when I graduate I will be doing it as well. Angela teaches Kindergarten at a private school, has a knack for style, and one can tell her passion is unbeatable for her career. I am always curious to learn more about educators, especially the grade I am planning on teaching, so here is a little more about Angela and what she does.
(Lindsey) When did you decide you wanted to become a Kindergarten teacher? (Anglea) "After high school I jumped into college working towards my AA degree with no real insight on what my career choice would be. My plan was while I was earning credits I would be finding myself and my career choice would become clearer. As the two years earning my AA passed my extreme need for organization mixed with my desire to be a part of the social scene became apparent and I chose Event Planning and Management. It wasn't until one semester into event planning that I changed majors completely. During my first semester in event planning, the college I was attending was hit with extreme budget cuts and news that certain fields of study were going to be dropped/not offered any longer rumored around school... cue Event Planning and Management along with several others. Before getting any further into this degree without an option to finish, I decided to pull out and pick a new major. Aside from school, I was recently married and working a full time job so both of those details played a factor in how I picked my next and final major, Elementary Education. I scoped out all the colleges (there are several in my town) and the options I had in regards to keeping my full time job. I decided on enrolling in a full time night program. The college offered three courses of study in the night program: Business Administration, Accounting, and Elementary Education. I chose Elementary Education. I have always had a natural instinct to love and care for others so teaching kids seemed perfect. I would even dare to say that my big heart gets the best of me in most occasions. After having taught a few years I realized having heart is really what this profession is all about. But it wasn't until I began this course of study that I really realized my desire to encourage, love, and educate others. I was not really inspired to become a teacher and did not even know initially that I wanted to be a teacher. I would say teaching found me."
What do you feel is your teaching style? "My teaching style is a combination of classroom experiences, student needs, and personal preference. I do not feel like teachers can be defined by a single teaching style if they are truly meeting the needs of all of their students. Children learn differently and on different levels, times, ways, etc. and those factors must be observed, noted, and acted upon accordingly. Starting at the first open house I sincerely try to get to know all of my students personally and by the first week of school I've observed and taken notes on learning styles, characteristics, needs, etc. I modify my lessons and activities, to the best of my ability and time frames given, to meet the differing needs in the classroom. Teaching is a profession that requires reflection, modification, and flexibility. I am constantly trying to keep my classroom, teaching styles, and expectations evolving with those things in mind."
What is your most rewarding experience from teaching? "One of the most rewarding experiences in the classroom is definitely the "aha moment". The moment when the child you have been working with so hard finally just "gets it". You can clearly see the light bulb come on over their head and their face glows with understanding. More often than not there is no real reason or method that provoked the aha moment, rather a combination of all your efforts finally making sense to the child. It's this moment that makes it all worth while."
What has been a challenge during your teaching career so far? "One of the most challenging experiences in teaching is dealing with parents. Parents can be a teacher's worst nightmare. Some parents have the hardest time accepting, and many do not, that their child is not the angel they deem them to be. This affects the child's behavior at home as well as in the classroom and in turn behavior effects learning socially, emotionally, and academically. There are also the uninvolved parents, that no matter how hard I try they just do not get involved in the child's education. Some parents feel like education is taught at school and there is no home connection. An uninvolved parent can lead to an uninterested or falling behind child, which can make my job frustrating knowing that with a little extra support the child could be making strong gains. Then of course there is the over zealous parent that never leaves the classroom and pushes their child to the point of tears. This parent doesn't realize that they are missing the best parts of their child because they are too focused on what the child lacks. I feel like I have had a lot of parent interaction that has better prepared me for parenthood. I'm constantly taking mental notes on what I do or don't want to do as a parent involved in my child's education."
How would you describe your sense of style, and how does that change within the classroom? "My fashion sense/style is actually not as defined as I would like for you to believe! I generally follow the rule "If you don't LOVE it, then don't buy it." This keeps me from buying things that I would wear once then leave in my closet for months until I make a donation pile. My style inside and outside of the classroom differ as well. Inside the classroom, I typically look for comfort. There are too many times a day where I am sitting with my class on the floor, creating a science experiment, or running a game on the playground to dress how I really like to. Not to mention the runny noses and Cheetos fingers, which inevitably leave their prints on me without warning. All of that said, Monday through Friday I'm generally a jeans and cardigan kind of girl. Outside of the classroom I love lace, scallops, collars, dresses and all things girly.
I dress with the expectation of getting messy and being accessible to my students. I also keep in mind that I am teaching Kindergarten which requires a different form of dress than teaching say high school or an older grade level. Dresses and skirts are out most days because I know we will have a lesson in circle time on the floor and I also enjoy being active at recess with the kids. Kindergartners are also at a very loving, nurturing age and they tend to be very touchy; I've discovered pants and jeans are safer. I lean towards colored or pinstripe pants as a fun way to dress up my teacher wardrobe while still maintaining the accessibility I need in my daily wear. Scarves and belts are also an easy way to add pops of color to the same old outfit."
I noticed that you have many tattoos, and I as well. Has there been any reactions within your teaching career toward this? "I do have tattoos and have experienced schools that did require me to cover them up as well as my current school that does not. I initially enter a professional workplace with my tattoos covered out of respect for the environment and staff that I have yet meet. I like for people to get to know me and my work ethic before judging me based on tattoos. Unfortunately, tattoos still create bias opinions despite their ever growing popularity in the work field. Once I have gotten to know the administration and staff of a workplace and gotten a better feel for the environment I will then make a decision on whether or not I think it is appropriate for my tattoos to show. If not, then generally it is not somewhere that I would choose to work full time. My current school is very multicultural and open minded. We are a small private school, so we have more freedom to choose what is allowed or “acceptable”. I have never had a parent complain and I feel that this is because they have always experienced me as a teacher first and made their opinion about me before they realized that I had tattoos. The tattoos were kind of an after thought by the time they found out. I always check with the administration before waltzing into school with tattoos showing proudly. I do however have some tattoos that never show at school. This is not because I feel like anyone would find them offensive or anything of that nature, but because of their placement. I have one on my chest, that I choose not to show because I would never want to give a student a reason to peer down my shirt. I think at that point the tattoo would become a distraction and would be inappropriate for the classroom. I also have a tattoo on my upper thigh that does not show for the same reason. The ones on my biceps, wrist, shoulder, and knee are fair game. My students have gone months without noticing them before and then out of the blue they'll say something like "You have a tattoo!" and I have to laugh because they've been there all year. My coworkers are usually surprised when they see the amount of tattoos I have, which is actually not many in the tattoo world. I think that is because they've unknowingly formed opinions about tattoos; then they meet someone as "sweet" as me and cannot believe that I would have tattoos! I love seeing people's reactions, both positive and negative."
Find more of Angela on Instagram, here.