Last week was Teacher Appreciation week at my daughter's school, and it led to a little reflection that I just had to share.
I've wanted to be a teacher since the 4th grade, which is coincidentally when I first wrote the letter you see below.
To my students' chagrin, I failed to follow through on my pledge to avoid homework, but I did fulfill the rest of the letter.
This letter is especially meaningful to me because becoming a teacher would have been my last answer if you had asked me that question just one year earlier, in 3rd grade. We've all had bad teachers, so you can probably relate when I say my 3rd-grade teacher was the female version of Professor Snape, intent on Expelliarmus-ing away my happiness and confidence. I don't remember many of my teachers' names, but I remember hers...hi, Mrs. Vaughn.
What changed in that short elementary year? It's more like who changed—enter my 4th-grade teacher, Mrs. Jamieson. Sticking with the Harry Potter angle, I'd say she shared Hagrid's gentle nature and height, but embodied McGonagall's commanding demeanor and pedagogical talent. She probably never realized back then that she was the catalyst that changed the direction of my entire life. Thanks to her inspiration, I earned a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Education, and spent the first six years of my career teaching at the K-12 and college level.
I loved creating new curriculum and improving existing curriculum, but it wasn't until my first online teaching experience that I had a critical ah-ha! moment:
I wasn't in love with teaching; I was in love with the art of teaching: crafting quality curriculum that breaths life into learning.
I was asked to develop online courses for students with chronic health problems, and the existing curriculum I was handed opened my eyes to the vast inequities that existed for this population of students when it came to their education. The content provided to them during their extended absences was a hodgepodge of reading assignments and worksheets with little to no engagement or guidance.
As I crafted new content, tools, and resources for these students and saw the positive impact it had on them, I realized the potential of online learning as a means to provide more equitable learning experiences for students who may not have access to high quality in-person education. Since then, I've earned my doctorate in curriculum and instruction and have dedicated my professional life to creating high-quality online courses and teaching others to do the same.