For our final week of our “From the Classroom of” series, we’re sharing Ms. Sylvia’s story! A second year English teacher, Ms. Sylvia has an admirable approach for teaching her Sophmores. She’s a Jacksonville local and teaches for the Duval County Public School system. Learn how she’s making a positive impact on young lives below!
Q: How many years of experience do you have teaching?
A: This is my second year teaching.
Q: Why did you choose to teach?
A: Honestly, the job kind of fell into my lap! I graduated with an English degree and I had a friend working at the school I now work at who let me know they were losing a lot of English teachers. So I applied and here I am! I did start my college career in education! Kids have always given me joy and the high schoolers give me way more joy than I thought! Haha
Q: What grade level do you teach?
A: 10th grade
Q: What do you find is the most challenging aspect of your daily routine with students?
A: The most challenging thing I find is to keep track of what each child needs. It’s extremely difficult to assess what each student struggles with and then figuring out how to help! Of course their attention span doesn’t help either hahah.
Q: How do you get organized for the first day & first week of a new school year?
A: This year, the first week was a breeze! I already had all of my routines in place from last year: how classwork is turned in, how makeup work is handled, my behavioral expectations for them, etc. Last year, I had no idea what I wanted or expected. I was just going off of what everyone else told me worked for them. Honestly, once you have your classroom together and organized the way you want it, the rest is fairly simple. If your space is calm, cool, and inviting, then it makes things run a lot smoother.
Q: What subjects do you teach?
A: I teach English 2! Sophomores
Q: What subjects do you most enjoy teaching?
A:….English hahah I love literature and communication!
Q: Have you developed any unique strategies for teaching, staying organized or anything else?
A: One thing that I’ve made sure to let the kids know is that I respect them. I respect their decision to be in my classroom every day and ready to learn! I find starting out that way, them knowing that I respect them when they are constantly feeling disrespected by society because they grew up in a rough area and treated like they don’t know anything, it creates an environment they are comfortable in and they have more respect and willingness to listen to me because of it. Reciprocity of respect.
Q: What has been your biggest lesson or point of personal growth since you first became a teacher?
A: I think I’ve been able to really see each child for who they are. Past their tough exterior and past their pre-conceived notions of who I am as a teacher. Of course, not every child is reachable. And that’s the tough part to accept. You want to be able to help and nurture each child to the best of your ability. But sometimes you just have to accept that you might not be the person to help some of them.
Q: Do you have any success stories about a particular student, or anything else? If so, share one!
A: Honestly, being my second year, it’s overwhelmed me with love at how many of my students from last year have come to say hi and give me a hug and tell me they miss my class. Even the kids that I just flat out didn’t like… so the fact that they sought out my classroom and wanted to see me…just fills me with love and appreciation. I got a letter at the end of last year from my favorite student (I know we’re not supposed to, but every teacher has a favorite. Get over it lol) and he thanked me for creating a space for him where he felt calm and comfortable. He thanked me for always being someone he could talk to and someone he could look up to and help motivate him to be a better student. And that he loved me like a mom. He did call me “Ma” by the end of the year. And he’s come to my classroom every day this week. If I can form at least one meaningful relationship with a student like this every year, to help motivate them to learn and be better every day, then I’ll be happy.
Q: Additional thoughts you would like to add?
A: Teaching is the most unbelievably challenging thing I’ve ever decided to do. But it’s the first week of school, and already my new students are saying hi to me in the hallways between classes and working hard right off the bat. There will always be challenging students, and there will be student’s who love you right away. But the ability to reach all of them is something truly to strive for. And I hope I can achieve that.
Thank you to Ms. Sylvia for participating in our “From the Classroom of” series and giving us all a little insight into the life of an educator. We hope you’ve all enjoyed this back-to-school series, and wish everyone beginning a new school year the best of luck. If you’re sending your children back to school, check out our organization tips on the Simply Stamps Resource Center!