Dr. Aleta Schexnayder, a TeacherReady® instructor, knew she wanted to become a teacher at the young age of six or seven. Most of us did not know our calling at such an early age, and many of us may still not know. Recognizing your passion and following your calling in life can take time. However, regardless of when you realize your passion for teaching, the results are always the same: an enriched, rewarding career. Dr. Schedxnayder shares with us a little about her love for teaching, where it has led her, and why the TeacherReady® program is the right choice for getting one step closer to your teaching career:
How did you know education was your calling?
I can credit my first grade teacher with my interest in becoming a teacher. My father said that I came home from school in the first week of first grade and announced that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. My mother and father instilled in me the values of working hard and doing your best. They encouraged me in all my schoolwork, but it was my first grade teacher who helped me realize what a wonderful difference teachers can make. I admired her kindness and interest in all her students. She made me feel important and I found that I loved school. Over the years, I learned to love learning and books. Teaching is the profession of sharing and caring, and I knew that I wanted to add my contributions to helping children.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Any specific occurrences that reignited your passion for teaching?
I entered college with the intentions of becoming an elementary teacher at the time that special education was receiving national focus. I decided to visit programs for children with special needs, and my heart was captured. I majored in elementary education and special education and taught third and sixth grades for about five years. However, the majority of my teaching years were in special education. I taught children with mental disabilities, learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, physical disabilities, hearing impairments, and/or autism. My most rewarding experiences were watching my students grow confident in their academic skills, their communication skills, and their social-personal skills. I remember one child who was severely dyslexic in first grade. I worked with him for two years and was quite concerned that he would remain a non-reader. Later I saw this child when he was in eighth grade, and he walked up to me and said, “Ms. Schexnayder, I want to thank you because you are the teacher who taught me to read.” I was so touched that he remembered me and that he gave credit to my efforts in first and second grade to help him to read.
Now I work as an instructor for TeacherReady after forty years of teaching and supervision of special education. I am honored to share my knowledge and experiences with a very dedicated group of young people who have the same calling for teaching that I had. I appreciate the opportunity to reach out to the next generation of teachers with words of encouragement and great ideas and tips for teaching.
What separates TeacherReady® from other certification programs?
Many traditional teacher certification programs in the colleges and universities have seen a decrease in enrollment of teacher candidates. America and many areas of the world face a teacher shortage. What makes TeacherReady so unique is that it has recruited individuals with superior content mastery in their respective fields who are now drawn to teaching. The combination of a specific degree field with TeacherReady training for classroom pedagogy will produce some of the strongest, most dedicated teachers we have ever seen in our profession. TeacherReady candidates are in the classrooms and are benefiting from the day-to-day teaching experiences and student interactions. Other certification programs often postpone this experience for later coursework. TeacherReady is a world-wide program with students in the Far East, South America, Europe and in most of the states of the United States. TeacherReady is having a positive impact on education throughout the world.
Any tips you may have for aspiring, current, and/or new teachers?
The advice I would give aspiring, current, and new teachers is to understand learning to be a teacher is a lifelong process. What you know as a first year teacher is only the beginning. Do not be afraid or hesitant to ask for assistance or to turn to a peer and ask for advice on teaching techniques, behavior management, or record-keeping. We must support each other and utilize collaborative planning.
The second advice I would have for teachers is to love your job but also find time for yourself. You will be a better teacher if you have relaxation time, exercise time, family time, and just plain fun time. Teaching can be very demanding on your time so you must learn to safeguard it.
Are you ready to take the first step towards achieving a career in education?
Asti Kelley, TeacherReady®