Hello faithful readers,
For our March interview, I’ve asked my sister-in-law, Rose Yutzy, to give us her story on teaching. Rose has been teaching grades 1-4 for seven years. She inspires me with her passion for creativity in the classroom. It’s more than just a job for her.
S: Hi Rose, thanks for joining me. So, who influenced you the most to be a teacher?
R: I’m not sure who influenced me the most to be a teacher, but my mom has been my biggest cheerleader. She has always affirmed and encouraged my school teaching career. And while I’m not sure who has been the biggest influence, I do know what has been the most influential decision in my teaching career. I took the two year teacher training program at Faith Builders, which changed so much of how I teach and even the level of enjoyment I get from it.
S: What are some rules for creativity you’ve adopted from other teachers?
R: “Every day of learning should bring some joy to the student.”
Although I’m always looking for ways to keep daily lessons from turning into drudgery, my goal is to do something additional each day. A small, intentional break in the routine. Sometimes it’s a funny poem or an unusual picture and sometimes it’s a game we play to drill math facts or phonics.
“Utilize your strengths.”
I love reading and all things books. So this is an easy way for me to practice creativity. In addition to the usual story time at noon, I try to read fun stories at sporadic times at least several times a week. I carry out armloads of books from the local library about twice a month to encourage my students to explore the world of books. I also use story books for science, history and creative writing class. It requires a minimal amount of energy to incorporate books into my lessons because it’s a passion I naturally have.
“The Spirit is the most creative teacher.”
This is one I’ve depended on a lot. I’ve been amazed at how often the Spirit has given me an idea when I needed one and remembered to ask.
S: I love the idea of doing something fun every day. Maybe we all could benefit from such a habit.
Teaching children to love learning requires a lot of creative thinking. What’s your greatest challenge in trying to make learning fun and interesting?
R: Creativity is hard work. It’s easier to spend five minutes preparing for a boring lesson, rather than taking the extra ten or even thirty minutes needed to make it a memorable one. Time obviously places certain limits on this, but my biggest challenge is to keep from letting the boring five minute lesson always become the default.
Also, creative output requires creative input. So another challenge is to invest the time needed to equip myself to have something to give.
S: What’s one thing you wish you’d known when you started teaching?
R: A teacher can easily get bogged down with a constant sense of underachievement. Lessons of character and academics both have nearly limitless potential for improvement. There will always be at least one student who needs better work habits and another who needs to learn how smiling is better than whining on the playground. Also, there will always be lessons that I didn’t teach as thoroughly as needed, whether for lack of preparation, time, or simply a lack of know-how. I wish I had known not to focus on my underperformance and allow it to define who I am as a teacher. Because we can’t get it all perfectly, it’s easy to not work on anything. But pick out a few things and make improvements. Focus on the growth you see, not the growth still left undone.
S: That’s well said. What’s the most fulfilling aspect of teaching for you?
R: The power to set the tone of my students’ learning experience. This is both fulfilling and also humbling. I receive fulfillment when the energy I invest lights them up with joy in the process of learning. When I see them having fun it energizes me to want to keep making it fun.
But this power I hold becomes humbling for me when I misuse it. I have days or moments when I create an unhappy atmosphere for them. I speak sharply to them and take out my frustrations on them. The thing that has humbled me repeatedly is their eagerness to leave that behind when I turn things around again. They want to be on my side and they prefer a happy experience to a negative one.
S: That is a great responsibility. We need children to remind us how to forget our mistakes and those of others!
Thank you so much for taking time to answer these questions. Teaching is a vital but too often undervalued gift.
And thank you, readers, for joining us here. Did you like this interview? Please share it.
Know any creatively inspiring people? Leave me your suggestions for interviewees.
I wish you an inspirational day.