Why I’m Proud to Be an Elementary School Teacher

Why I'm Proud to Be an Elementary School Teacher

Recently, a new acquaintance asked me, “You’re an elementary school teacher, right?” Shockingly, my immediate reaction was to say, “No, I’m not.”

This is absurd for many reasons. The first and most obvious is that I am, in fact, an elementary school teacher. But for me, the title evokes an image of a middle-aged woman in mom jeans and tennis shoes, teaching songs and art to a small group of children for a few hours each day.

What I Learned About Being a Single Parent and New Teacher

What I Learned about Being a Single Parent and Teacher

Joining Teach For America meant a lot for me. I wanted to change the lives of children, hopefully in a city I loved, but I also joined for me. As a single parent, I know I have to work extra hard to be the best example for my son, Isaiah. From my training at Institute through the last day of school, I have learned more about Isaiah, my students, and myself.

The Most Transformative Words I’ve Said in Class This Year

The Most Transformative Ideas I've Said this Year

Last month, during testing season, stress levels are at an all-time high—for my 8th graders and their teacher. So when a student stopped doing his homework, I stopped letting him into my classroom. He sat on the floor in the hallway and moped, while I circulated with the other 24 students in my classroom and let my emotions stew. And then we both went home angry.

Moving Beyond Mediocre to Be a Better Teacher

How to Be a Better Teacher

My principal recently told me that I am well ahead of the first-year teacher learning curve. This is a compliment that all first-year teachers pray, wish, and hope to hear. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anything but thrilled. My administration thinks my 4th grade classroom always seems to “have it together.” I majored in education before getting my masters from the Teachers College at Columbia University. I should “have it together.”

The problem is: I don’t.

Failing Forward: How I Learned to Apply a Growth Mindset to My Students and Myself

How I Learned to Apply a Growth Mindset to My Students and Myself

Sometimes I think that my kids deserve a better teacher. I feel this way especially after a giant behavioral meltdown, an assessment that shows little to no growth, or an administrator evaluation that didn’t go as smoothly as planned. At these points in time, I feel like a lousy educator, and I can’t imagine ever being a good one.

Why I’m Staying in the Classroom

14396077993_9269de7b29_bAccording to recent studies, nearly 40% of new teachers leave the classroom after three years. I’m not surprised by that number because that was my path.

I was teaching two subjects to two middle school grade levels, and putting in 60+ hour work weeks in a portable classroom with a leaky air conditioner. Parents yelled at me for giving their children homework, administrators denied my plans to bring in guest speakers, and a student kicked a hole in my wall. I was 24 years old, and after three years of anxiety in the trenches, I wasn’t sure I could do it forever.

Shameless Optimism: Kids Are the Reason

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Last weekend I FaceTimed with one of my 1st graders for two hours. She gave me a complete tour of her house and introduced me to her abuelo and abuela. Her abuelo kept saying, “She loves you Ms. Grant. You’re all she ever talks about.” In this moment, I thought, just like I had a thousand times before, that kids like this one are the reason why I decided to do this work.

Teaching Is Leading: How to Be Your Best Self

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On Christmas Eve I received a text message that a dear friend of 12+ years was in the ICU in critical condition from an ongoing eleven-month battle with cancer. I met Zack in August 2002 at summer camp for children with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease; cancer was likely a result of medicine he was taking to stabilize the chronic disease we shared. With every day that passed of winter break, I sat by my phone waiting for an update on his condition. In January, Zack was taken all too soon from his family, his fiancée, his friends, and his camp family.