For week three of “From the Classroom of” series, we would like to introduce to you Mrs. Eardley. She is a devoted high school science teacher from Creekside High School in St. Johns County, Florida. Mrs. Eardley wakes up every day inspired to make an impression on her “tiny people,” as she lovingly calls them. Read what she has to say about the joys and challenges of teaching public school:
Q: How many years of experience do you have teaching?
A: 12 years.
Q: Why did you choose to teach?
A: I kind of fell into a teaching job after college; I wasn’t sure what to do next. I ended up loving it, so I decided to keep on keeping on.
Q: What grade level do you teach?
A: High School. I’ve taught all levels, but mostly 11th and 12th grade.
Q: What do you find is the most challenging aspect of your daily routine with students?
A: Getting kids to stay engaged. In the technological world we live in today it’s hard for kids to see the value in learning and thinking for themselves when they carry all of the world’s knowledge in their pocket.
Q: How do you get organized for the first day and first week of a new school year?
A: Lots of Post-it note reminders! I have a big fat planner that I start every year in August (which is teacher new year… I don’t care about Jan 1…). I’m very meticulous with putting my stuff away at the end of the year so I can get my room set up quickly to start working on the meaty things (lesson planning, syllabus writing, checking IEP (individual education plans), making copies, etc.)
Q: What subjects do you teach?
A: Physics and Earth/Space Science.
Q: What subjects do you most enjoy teaching?
A: Physics is my all-time favorite. If we’re being super specific, AP Physics C, which is calculus-based, college level physics.
Q: Have you developed any unique strategies for teaching, staying organized or anything else?
A: Not really. Teaching is a profession full of re-users. I’m constantly on Pinterest or Facebook groups looking for new ideas. I am a big fan of interactive notebooks for students to manage all their knowledge.
Q: What has been your biggest lesson or point of personal growth since you first became a teacher?
A: First and foremost, coming out of my shell. I’ve always been very self-conscious and teaching has made me stop. But really and truly the relationships I have with some of these kids are the reason I keep coming back. I am truly blessed to get to spend my days with these tiny people. Even though teenagers are mostly grown, inside they’re still kids. They have these ideas and plans and their whole lives in front of them. It’s really fun to get to know them all.
Q: Is there a burning question you WISH someone would ask you about your job?
A: I just wish more people would recognize that this is a hard job. Unless you’ve spent a few years in the school system, you don’t understand how it can tear you down year after year. So many people say teachers have a part time job because we get summer off and winter break and spring break. But we don’t get paid then. We don’t get paid when we show up an hour early (because we have to get ready for the kids) or stay late to help a kid out or grade papers. I probably work 55-60 hours a week and don’t get overtime like other jobs. And teachers NEVER stop thinking about school. I’ve woken up in cold sweats thinking about school, copies I forgot to run, tests that need to be written. It’s not a job that you just clock out at the end of the day and don’t think about until 8am the next day… And forget about taking sick days. It’s easier to show up and suffer than it is to write last minute lesson plans for a substitute.
Thank you to Mrs. Eardley for sharing your compelling stories and experiences of being an educator! We’re wishing all the teachers and students a successful new school year as they head back to their classrooms. Be sure to meet us back here next Monday for the final week of our “From the Classroom of” series!