Wade Hampton High School
1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?
My role as an educator is currently split into two roles. One of those being the Instructional Technology Coach and the other being the Teacher Cadet instructor. With both roles, my primary focus is supporting others whether that is a current or future teachers.
My typical day starts with school wide logistics. I set up the 9 shared Chromebook carts before the school day begins. We will thankfully be one-to-one next school year so I can take that duty off of my “to do” list very soon! I then teach one of my favorite classes, Teacher Cadet, for the first hour and a half of my day. Is class is all about supporting future teachers and education advocates. Once this class concludes, the rest of my day is filled with a variety of technology focused activities. At any given time I could be researching new technology tools, observing teachers, supporting technology usage and needs in a classroom, tweeting about something awesome I saw in a classroom, or presenting and/or planning a professional learning opportunity for my teachers.
The best part about my job is that I get to work side by side with the teachers in my building to bring the best possible learning experience to our students. I may not have my own classroom, but I get to share a piece of every classroom in the building through technology integration.
2.) What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?
I believe that we, as teachers, must first build a trusting and supportive relationship with our students before we can help them reach their full potential both inside and outside of the classroom.
3.) Why did you become an educator?
Initially I decided to become a teacher because I fell in love with school in the third grade. I was, and still am, fascinated with the process of learning. I think it is amazing that students leave a classroom with new knowledge in their brain every day because of their teacher. I wanted to be a part of that processes. I wanted to spread and share that magical moment of learning. I was lucky to have passionate teachers very early on in my education path that inspired me to become to do just that, spread the love of learning! As I got older I came to find a second reason to become an educator. I wanted to have a career with purpose. An educator’s purpose goes beyond teaching content. Our mark often times is not seen initially but can last a lifetime for our students. The effect of a teacher can be monumental. Teachers are a role model, support system, cheerleader, a life coach, world of knowledge, disciplinarian, and so much more for their students! A teacher is often the most referenced person in someone’s path to success because a teacher believed in them. That opportunity to help others reach their highest potential felt like a calling that I had to full fill and I am so glad that I answered the call!
4.) As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?
I hope to contribute a more active role in supporting and pursuing positive and purposeful change in education. I believe the kind of change our state needs happens when teachers are leading the way. My participation in the SCASCD Emerging Leader program will give me the tools and connections to help the teachers in my community to develop their teacher leader skills and voices. I hope to lead by example by being a voice for student needs, teacher needs, and by taking the time to participate in professional learning with my fellow Emerging Leaders. Through advocacy with SCASCD I can help others understand how policy effects their students and classroom. SCASCD will help me to continue to grow my network of passionate educators across the state. Together we are stronger and better for our students!
5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?
Taking part in Greenville County Schools’ Instructional Coach Institute (ICI) had a huge impact on my career. I was able to find likeminded educators who supported my journey of becoming an Instructional Coach. This program not only taught me the specifics of being an Instructional Coach but also taught me the importance of relationship building with your faculty in order to truly facilitate growth. The support through learning together for a year in the ICI program helped me to find confidence in my skills and grow into the coach I am today. I found that attending the Upstate Technology Conference (UTC) made a difference for me both as a presenter and attendee. I was able to explore and share so many new ideas by attending UTC. This conference also helped me to grow my Professional Learning Network which I call on almost every day for support and new ideas. I believe professional developments that allow you to share, connect, and grow like ICI and UTC are the most impactful.
6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.
I have always felt called to be a teacher but I think a pivotal moment for me was when I realized I had followed the correct path to teaching specifically mathematics. It was during my second year of teaching and, I must admit, it’s because I made a student cry. I had recently added a “Wall of Awesome” where students were able to add their name to the wall whenever they made an A on a major assignment. Students took a lot of pride in adding their name to the wall! I was handing our most recently graded test and Wall of Awesome stickers to one of my college prep Algebra 1 classes and all of a sudden a student started crying. I was taken a back because she made an A on the test. When I asked her why in the world she was crying she stated that this was the first A she had ever made on a math test. The entire class clapped as she walked over to my Wall of Awesome and added her name. I was absolutely speechless. I had never considered the idea that my students would find that much joy in their math success or that they had never felt successful in a prior math class. I now look back on this story with so much pride because I helped her make that achievement. I was teaching Algebra in a way that she could understand. Experiences like this make me feel certain that I am in the right career and I will always cherish that moment when I made a student cry tears of joy!
7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?
I would change the focus on standardized testing. I do believe there is a time and place for purposeful standard based testing, however, often times students and teachers feel that taking a test is the major focus of their time in school. Teachers feel that they cannot deviate from a tightly planned schedule because they have to fit in all of the content before the benchmark, or the End of Course Exam (EOC), or the SC READY and PASS tests. Students end up falling behind because these teachers do not have “time” to reteach, they feel the pressure to move on to the next lesson. Even the best teacher can fall victim to the pressure of student performance expectations on these assessments. As a result, teachers leave the enrichment activities for any extra time after the assessments. Students tend to lose interest in the learning process by the time they reach high school because it isn’t about their interests. Their learning in the classroom is about a standardized test. This year, one of the EOC exams is over 60 questions long. College prep and honors level students all take the same EOC even though the classes are taught differently based on student needs. We would never expect college prep pre-calculus students to take the same final exam as the honors class yet we do this with state mandated EOCs. I have witnessed students taking over three hours to complete the Algebra 1 end of course exam and then fail with a score of a 59. This kind of testing does not support student growth when students feel defeated after spending half of their day staring at a computer screen to take an exam that their teacher never gets to see. We need to transition to a better system to ensure that students find joy in learning instead of defeat in testing.
8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?
One of my most rewarding experiences as an educator has been supporting and helping high school seniors pursue their dreams of becoming an educator! While teaching Teacher Cadet I have had the great honor and challenge of passing the torch to high school students who, at the start of the semester, are typically not sure if they truly want to go into education. After my first year of teaching this course I had a student tell me that my class and enthusiasm for education helped her realize that working with special education students truly was her passion and that she was so grateful to have been a part of the Teacher Cadet program. She has now gone on to become a Teaching Fellow at the College of Charleston. Igniting a love for teaching for that young lady made my teacher heart so happy and proud!