The subway ad that changed my life

It said, “You remember your first grade teacher’s name.  Who will remember yours?”  At the time I was working long hours as a market research analyst trying to figure out why people bought one toothbrush instead of another.    That day on the subway it became clear that I was wasting my time doing something I didn’t care about.

So I quit my job and joined the program advertised on the subway. I was placed in what was labeled a “hard to staff” school with no real teaching experience and little training.  Yet, despite the challenges and heartbreak, I fell in love with teaching.

I taught for seven years, starting at the elementary school level, then moving to middle school math, and eventually coaching math teachers.  I also dabbled a bit in the policy world as a Teaching Ambassador Fellow for the US Department of Education.   My quest to learn more about teaching and learning led me to a Ph.D. program where I am now researching student learning in mathematics.  I also continue to work with current teachers as well as those pursuing a degree in teaching.

I truly believe that teaching is one of the most important and difficult professions one can choose.   Although other jobs have paid more, offered better working conditions and were more respected by my peers, it is the profession I am most proud to have been a part of.    I may no longer be a full-time classroom teacher, but I will always be a teacher at heart.

Over the last few years as a Ph.D. student, I have had the time and opportunity to think about teaching and learning from a different perspective.  Unfortunately, I think that those outside the classroom often speak a different language than those inside the classroom.  As a result, messages get lost in translation.  I believe that only through true communication across these different groups can we bridge the gap so that change can occur.  I hope you come along on the journey as I explore what that means and how we can begin to do that.


3 thoughts on “The subway ad that changed my life

  1. Nico

    A great story to introduce an even greater one!

    I appreciate the sentiment that, ‘those outside the classroom often speak a different language.’ It’s a difference worth mentioning. Also, a difference worth questioning, challenging, and as you say, exploring and changing.

    Thank you for sharing. I’m looking forward to hearing where your Ph.D. studies take you and follow you along the journey.

    1. Post author

      Thanks for the support! Exploring how these different groups (those inside schools and those outside schools) can best work together to make progress is something that fascinates me, especially now that I have spent some time in both worlds. I hope you continue to share your thoughts and experiences.

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