Dr. Phyllis Schiffer-Simon is a professor at Kaplan University's School of Education. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Florida Atlantic University.
What motivated you to become a teacher?
I always knew that teaching was my calling. My mother was a teacher and as a child my favorite activity was to play school. I remember with particular clarity being in elementary school and when other kids went out for recess I would ask the teacher if I could erase the board and help grade papers. It was just a natural place for me to be.
When I was doing my undergraduate work and student teaching, I truly realized this is where I belonged. I was delivering a lesson and all these little eyes were fixed on me. It's hard to put into words or describe the feeling. It's probably one of the most satisfying, wholesome, and valuable feelings as human beings we can experience. That moment when you know you are making a difference in someone's life. I think it's when you know you're where you're supposed to be and when you establish that connection. It's what keeps teachers in the profession. It's definitely not the salary, or the challenges in today's classrooms, but it is watching that light come on in that one student. That feeling is intangible and hard to put into words, but it's why we do what we do. And when I had that first teachable moment, I knew it was where I was meant to be all along.
What have you learned about yourself since you started teaching?
I think the primary thing I've learned about myself is that it's not only that I enjoy teaching, but that I get so much gratification and satisfaction from seeing the impact on not only students but the teachers that I teach.
What do you find most rewarding as a teacher?
What is most rewarding for me is working with students and watching them go from eager, but not necessarily confident in their ability, to self-assured, confident students. All in all, it's building their efficacy in their ability to succeed-not only is it based on whether or not they understood an assignment or got 100% on a paper, but their belief that they can be successful and that they can make a difference.
What advice do you have for someone who is considering teaching as a profession?
I believe that teaching is still the most rewarding profession because every day you get to see the benefits of your investments in your students. The profession needs people who not only have the desire to teach but the dedication and the belief that all students can succeed. My advice is for teachers to be open-minded and flexible, and bring their own talents, abilities, and skills into the classroom. There's no prescription or recipe for effective teaching, but there are strategies that we can all learn. It's a blend of the dedication, the talents of the individuals, and the strategies that make for a successful teacher.
I used to have a poster in my classroom that said "teaching is not learning." Just because you're teaching doesn't necessarily translate into learning. It's a transformational process of how you set up a lesson, how you engage students, how you provide opportunities for them to discover on their own and that is learning.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author(s) and are not attributable to Kaplan University.
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