Tuesday, June 14, 2011
A Short Conversation With...Greta Sandler @gret
How long have you been teaching?
I’ve been an English as a second language teacher for about 8 years. I used to teach young adults at the university level and then moved into elementary education. Teaching kids has made a huge difference for me. It’s such a gift to be able to reach out for them and help them flourish!
Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?
Yes, a lot! I’ve always believed that connecting with our students was really important to build a safe learning environment in the class. I’ve always thought that teaching was way more than just following a curriculum. However, it wasn’t until I was really able to reach out for a kid that I felt the power of being a teacher for the first time. Since then, I’ve been way more focused on bringing out the best in each of my students.
I also used to think technology wasn’t important in the classroom. To be honest, I was totally clueless about the amazing things we could do with it. The world has changed and it keeps changing. I’ve become aware that we need to connect our students’ learning with the world in which we live in and technology can help us bring the world into the classroom and expand our classroom walls. Thanks to technology, we can recreate the world in our classroom and create meaningful learning opportunities for our students. What’s more, technology can also help us connect with our students in a stronger way and it can help us build a better learning environment.
Has Twitter played a role in your evolution as a teacher? If so, how?
Yes! It has! Thanks to Twitter, I’ve built my PLN. My PLN has had an essential role in my professional and personal growth.
I started tweeting actively about a year ago. I was too shy to get involved in conversations at first, so I just lurked. I spent a lot of time reading blogs and I slowly began commenting on them. This led to conversations on twitter and soon after, I began participating on twitter chats such as #elemchat, #ntchat, #edchat and #eltchat. I have also taken part in great online educational conferences and webinars. I always find out about these amazing opportunities on Twitter.
I have learned about the wonderful things we can do with technology in our classrooms, I have connected with incredibly inspiring educators from all over the world and I ended up writing my own blog. What’s more, I got my students blogging and skyping with experts and other classes. Let me tell you, these have been the most amazing experiences in my teaching career.
My PLN keeps challenging and inspiring me to reflect on my teaching. I keep learning and growing thanks to it. I interact with the people in my PLN mostly on Twitter. That’s why I feel Twitter is my staff room; a place where learning takes place 24/7.
What's the best advice you have received as a teacher (or can give to a new teacher)?
My first year as an elementary school teacher, I heard a teacher say we should love our students before actually meeting them. To be honest, I didn’t really understand what she meant at first. It was at the end of that school year that I became aware of how powerful what I had heard was. I had a student who had been a victim of sexual abuse and he was about to be kicked out from school. His behavior was really bad and his performance wasn’t exactly the best. All I heard about him were awful comments. That boy became my favorite student right away. When I met him, I felt he had always been my student. I showed him how much I cared and we connected right away. At the end of the year he was a total different kid. Not only did his behavior improve, but also his performance.
Our job is so powerful! I seriously believe we can make a difference for our students and help them flourish. It’s way easier to reach out for our kids, if we have a strong connection with them. The key to a successful connection with our students is to love them before we know them.
Greta Blogs here