Monday, February 16, 2015

Memorable Teachers and How They Made Me a Better Educator: Part Four

I am lucky to have had five teachers who made a powerful and positive impression in my life and, looking back, I realize they greatly influenced the kind of teacher I am today. For this five part series, I will talk about why the teachers were important to me and how I use what I learned from them in my own classroom.

Part Four: Graduate School with Dr. Yost

In undergrad I met a woman named Dr. Yost. She was the director of a rigorous program called the Professional Development Center that allowed first year teachers to teach full time with the support of a mentor while also getting a Master’s degree in fifteen months. She came to one of my education classes to recruit students for the rather competitive program.  I met with her in her office afterward and discussed the PDC program with her and she encouraged me to apply. She followed up with me several times that semester to make sure I was going through with my application.

During my student teaching experience the next semester, in a small town in South Dakota, she came to see me in the classroom—bringing with her the superintendent of the district. After they watched my lesson they told me I was accepted to the program and they wanted me to continue to teach in that school. Of course I accepted their offer. I got to know Dr. Yost during that very demanding year and developed a huge respect for her and her no-nonsense approach to teaching and life. If I or any of the other first year teachers in the PDC program made a mistake we’d hear about it. She wouldn’t be mean, but she was honest and told us how it was and how we could improve. She never beat around the bush.

The entire PDC program, which was largely facilitated by Dr. Yost, taught me invaluable lessons about teaching that I use every single day in the classroom. She stressed the importance of self-reflection. All first year teachers wrote reflections about their teaching experiences several times a week. Dr. Yost read everything and provided feedback.  She emphasized how much it’s possible to learn from other teachers and required us to observe our mentors, other first year teachers, and teachers of different grades and subject areas. 

Dr. Yost ingrained in me the values of self-reflection and learning from others. Because of her, I have grown as a teacher much faster than I would have otherwise. I will always have a great respect for her, be grateful for her encouragement in applying to her program, and thankful for such an incredible first year teaching experience.

Take a look at the other teachers who are a part of this series.
Part One: Elementary School
Part Two: Middle School
Part Three: High School
Part Five: School of Life

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