As many of you know, my husband Eric is a high school math teacher. I’ve always placed a high value on education and couldn’t be more proud of his achievements and dedication to his students. So in order to highlight the joint initiative between Office Depot, Teachers Change Lives and Adopt-A-Classroom, I thought it would be fun to pick Eric’s brain and share his thoughts on teaching and education with you.
So without further adieu…
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
When I first entered college, I thought I wanted a career in finance. But as graduation neared, I started thinking about what I really wanted. It became clear that I wanted a job where I got to help people, be creative, and talk about something I enjoyed. I really enjoy math, and teaching allows me to be creative in the way I present material while also helping people accomplish their goals. I love the fact that I get to inspire students to enjoy math as well as enjoy the process of learning.
Why do you think education is important?
Education is crucial in helping people achieve their dreams and goals. I don’t necessarily think that everyone needs to know pre-calculus in order to be a successful human being. But I think the organizational and critical thinking skills that they learn in school are necessary. Also, I think that the consistency and discipline children develop in school are necessary as well. School is definitely a training ground for those things. It doesn’t teach you everything you need in the real world, but it definitely sets up some good guidelines and skills that you’ll need in life – whether kids realize it or not.
What do you think makes a good teacher?
A teacher should definitely be very passionate and knowledgeable about their subject. Knowing a bunch of stuff doesn’t mean anything if you’re not passionate about it. Another thing that’s important is being able to express that passion to your students. Being personable is a big deal. You can definitely know your subject inside and out but that won’t necessarily make you a good teacher if you can’t effectively transfer that knowledge to your students in a way that’s compelling and interesting.
How do you share your passion for math with your students?
I come to class genuinely excited about the things the students are going to learn. I spend a lot of time thinking about how I want to present things to the students, and I think they can definitely tell how much time and energy I put into it. I share a lot of things outside of the curriculum with my students to help them appreciate the importance of mathematics and how it is applied. Every week, I also have my students explore issues outside of the classroom that are related to the real-world. I think it helps them see the importance of the mathematical ideas I’m teaching them. At the end of the day, I want my students to walk away with an appreciation for math. They don’t necessarily have to like it (although that would be great), but I at least want them to see its value.
What has been your proudest moment as a teacher?
I have tons of students that I’m proud of. And it’s not necessarily the ones that are doing great in the classroom. The desire, the drive, the dedication, the consistency that I see from some of my students is incredible. I’m proud of a lot of my students who just have great drive and tenacity. They just keep trying even when they run into issues, and I really appreciate that. I’m very happy to be able to help those kids out.
Good or bad, describe your most memorable teacher?
That would have to be Ms. Ross, my marketing teacher in high school as well as the sponsor for DECA club. She spent a lot of time talking to us about marketing of course, but she also talked to us a lot about life and shared her experiences and the wisdom that she’d gained. She was very relatable, and I appreciated that she was such a down-to-earth person.
What’s the hardest part about teaching?
Grading! There is A LOT of grading, and it’s not easy or fun. Besides that, there’s also the issue of getting students to buy in to what you’re teaching. Getting them to tell you things and explain them in their own words rather than just lecturing them all day can be challenging. I tend to give a lot of open-ended problems that require my students to give explanations and articulate their thought process. Students can always find answers in books or online, but I’d much rather have them wrestle with a problem and come to their own conclusions.
How has being a teacher affected you as a person outside of the classroom?
I think that a lot of the traits and skills I need to be a good teacher are also things that I need to be good person. My level of patience is extremely high, and I definitely think I’ve become a lot kinder and empathetic after teaching for so many years. I’m also more aware of people’s needs. So teaching has definitely affected my character. I’m also naturally a very introverted person, but teaching has helped me be more sociable.
Any final thoughts?
I enjoy teaching a great deal. I appreciate the fact that it’s different every day, and there’s never a dull moment. Most mathematical careers involve sitting at a desk all day, crunching numbers. So I love the fact that I get to see a change in my student, and I get to see real results from my work. I definitely feel that what I do has a profound impact on people’s lives in a very tangible way.
Teachers spend money every year out of their own pocket, especially in underfunded areas. Teachers are doing innovative things in the classroom and you can help them do more by donating. Adopt-A-Classroom is a nonprofit organization that helps connect donors with teachers to enhance the learning environment for students. Office Depot and Adopt-A-Classroom have partnered to raise awareness about teachers, and all that they do in the lives of their students.
#TeachersChangeLives, and these students are proof. Watch as students express how much their teachers mean to them.
How to Donate to a Teacher
- Go to Teachers Change Lives website (http://clvr.li/1emq4KF)
- Click on the teal “Donate to a Teacher” box on the Teachers Change Lives website (http://clvr.li/1emq4KF), which will take you to the Adopt-A-Classroom website
- Follow the corresponding steps from there