Read to your children.
So many of our nation’s children begin school without the literacy skills they need to be successful. And unfortunately, they never catch up. Reading is the gateway for every subject taught in school—if a student lacks literacy skills, he or she will struggle in all content areas. Help your child start his or her academic career with a love for reading. Keep books and reading materials in the house, visit the local library, read to your child often, and let your child see you reading. By doing so, you ensure your child has every opportunity to succeed in school and in life.
My students (and I) are so much more than answers on a bubble sheet.
Some things can’t be measured. My students are more than a test score. I want my students to be passionate, creative, and innovative. I want them to be thinkers, problem-solvers, and communicators. Some of the work we do in our classroom to tackle these goals can be captured by a multiple-choice test; a lot cannot. The relationships we build in our classroom, and the ways we grow together each day—these experiences matter more than a test given just once a year.
Be your students’ biggest fan.
Children can’t flourish academically unless they are motivated to succeed. Part of that motivation comes from their belief in themselves. Teachers must help foster such confidence in their students. Set high expectations for all your children and work hard to recognize and develop the strengths they already have. Tell your students why they are worthwhile and why you enjoy having them in your class. Let them know, “I see you, I know your importance, and you can do great things.”
It’s okay to smile before Thanksgiving.
Rookie teachers are often told to be stern disciplinarians, and to never show a friendly, personable disposition to their students. I find this ridiculous! Teaching, good teaching, is about building relationships and about building trust. It’s okay to be warm. It is okay to laugh and have fun. It is okay to be who you are—to be real—with your students.
It’s not about me.
My English class can’t be about my favorite works or authors. It can’t be about my interests. My class has to be about my students and their needs. I have to hand over the reins, and use their interests to drive my instruction. Their goals for the future, and their strengths and weaknesses must shape what I do each and every day.
The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.
The 2012 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, Kimberly Shearer, is an 11th grade English teacher and assistant librarian at Boone County High School in Florence, Kentucky. Mrs. Shearer has spent her entire teaching career at Boone County High School, and has served as the building’s writing coordinator. She earned a BA in English from Georgetown College, an MA in Secondary Education from Northern Kentucky University, and an MS in Library Media Education from Western Kentucky University.
Mrs. Shearer currently writes a monthly column for Kentucky Teacher, and has written for numerous publications, including the Community and Junior College Libraries Journal. She has been a presenter at the ACT Summit and at the National Council of Teachers of English national conference. Mrs. Shearer belongs to the National Council of Teachers of English, the Kentucky Education Association, and the American Library Association. Recently, she was featured on the television program, Education Matters.
Mrs. Shearer and her husband, Jason, have been married since 2001. The couple has two daughters, Mila and Stella, and resides in Burlington, Kentucky.