ClassTag Hacks / Oct 13, 2016

ClassTag Stories: Ava’s Journey From Engaged Parent To Fulfilled Teacher

 

We’re always excited to learn about experiences, stories and  challenges of ClassTag teachers. Today’s guest post illustrates one of many paths that lead to a fulfilling teaching career: Ava’s journey began as an active and engaged parent. Today, she’s been teaching for over a decade, collecting precious nuggets of wisdom about partnerships and communication in the classroom along the way. Many thanks to Ava for sharing her story with the ClassTag community! Read Ava’s story below.

My name is Ava and I’ve been teaching preschool, part-time, for about 14 years. I fell into it, as many moms do, because I had trouble dropping my son off and leaving (Don’t worry, I was not an annoying parent; I’d just watch through the door for a while.) At age 5, this was his first and only year at a private, religious preschool; I wanted him to have at least one solid year of exposure to his religion, since I didn’t do much with it at home.

From parent volunteering to a new career path

Perhaps because it was a private preschool, it was more receptive to parents hanging around in the hallways! After a while, I asked if I could volunteer in his classroom. The teachers were friendly and receptive, and were happy to have some help. Both of these teachers were experienced and saw that I was good with children, so they recommended that I apply to work at the school. I began subbing and then the following year, worked with a lead teacher in parents and tots. Throughout my eight years there, I worked with all the different age groups: tots, 2’s, 3’s 4’s and 5’s. Then the economy fell and I was laid off abruptly. Although I was nervous about working in a new school, I was also relieved, as I never felt I quite fit in to the culture at that school, at least at that time. I might never have left on my own.

One of my co-teachers heard that a similar school, just down the street, was hiring for summer camp, so I applied there. I began subbing almost immediately and then worked summer camp. My first school year there I co-taught in the toddler class. It was fun but also physically stressful. I also found that I got bored with that age. I had my B.A. this whole time (in another subject entirely), but around this time the State of Colorado introduced a requirement that all ECE lead teachers had to have at least two ECE classes. At my new school, they have co-leads, not a lead and as assistant. So my new co-teacher was asked to train me as a lead, and I also completed my two required ECE classes. I was happy to have a director who encouraged me to advance.

The power of partnerships at school

One of the hardest things about co-teaching is finding a compatible co-teacher. Whether you are a lead and an assistant, or co-leads, it’s like a marriage. You work closely together and don’t agree on everything. That first year my co-teacher and I weren’t compatible in our teaching styles, despite that I liked her personally. As there wasn’t another classroom for me at the time, I did other things for the next couple of years, “snack queen” and subbing when a teacher was out. Finally, my opportunity for my own class once again came when another teacher took an extended leave of absence. I stepped in midway through the year. My co-teacher and I did well together, and have been paired together ever since. We teach ages ages three or four. I’ve been at this school for six years now.

For me, I’ve learned that teaching three days/week is enough. The constant noise is overwhelming if I teach five days. So I am lucky that teaching three days is an option at my school. I am also the ‘librarian’, however unofficially, and will soon be planning to come in on another day each week for storytelling. I am glad to use different skills and grow in a variety of ways.

Personal relationships supported by technology

We get the best results when we have a greater relationship with a parent and ask them for something or discuss something with them in person. For example, one of our ‘repeat’ parents emailed us today about a project we had discussed with her and were interested in undertaking as a class. She is moving ahead with it, taking the initiative. So we are doing this in person and followup through regular email. It is just more automatic and personal to do it that way. 


Would you like to share your take on parent-teacher communication or tell us about your experience with ClassTag? Get in touch with us by emailing team@classtag.com. We’re turning parents into partners – try ClassTag today and join the movement.

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