This year I was nominated and elected, by the teachers in my building, as “Teacher of the Year.” What an amazing accolade to receive. I had to submit a one page typed paper on my philosophy of teaching, and a one page typed paper on my most memorable moment. I’ve included them both in this post so that you can read them if you wish.
From these two items, along with an application, I was chosen to be one of the top five finalists out of twenty-seven buildings. I then had to submit a letter from an administrator, a letter from a fellow teacher, two letters from past or current students, and a letter from a parent.
I chose one letter to come from a special education teacher teacher I co-taught with last year. I thought, how much better can you get than a teacher who had seen my teaching every day for a year. She gave me rave reviews. One student letter came from a student I taught last year. He had just moved here from China and spoke very little English. His math skills were superb, so I didn’t offer him an amazing amount in that area, but all of the cooperative learning activities we did helped him tremendously socially. I included his letter both typed in English and handwritten in Chinese.
The parent letter I submitted was from a parent of a student I taught last year who was moderately autistic. The student was decent at math, extremely organized, an amazing perfectionist, but lacked in social skills. He absolutely flourished under my teaching style and started writing me detailed word problems for the concepts we were studying.
I was surprised one morning, in my first hour, by a group of people that gave me the news I had been selected as one of the five finalists. I’m always telling my students that “Mrs. Kerr is the best teacher in the whole wide world.” A lot of times I have them repeat after me certain things that pertain to whatever we’re working on. After repeating the math stuff, I always end it with them repeating “Mrs. Kerr is the best teacher in the whole wide world.” The kids start laughing and then I question them why they are laughing, and it’s just a big joke in my classes. When that group came in and told me I was one of the five finalists, you should have seen those kids’ faces! After the group left I said, “See, I’m always telling you I’m the best teacher in the whole wide world, and now this proves it.” It was quite funny.
Last Monday, the five finalists and a panel of teachers in our district met for interviews to determine the “District Teacher of the Year.” I realized then that I was much better “being” a teacher of the year than I was explaining what I do that makes me teacher of the year material. I had already kind of prepared things that I was going to say, and when none of the questions fit the things I had prepared I got stuck. I know now that I should have made my answers fit. The questions they asked didn’t fit the things I thought made me good. They asked about discipline policies. I told them that I don’t really have one because I don’t have discipline issues. When students are engaged and focused, there’s no time for misbehaving. They asked about technology in the classroom, and I told them that I felt students spend a tremendous amount of time on “technological” things at home and everywhere else they are. I use game boards I personally make, decks of cards, and concrete hands-on materials. They asked how I motivate my students, and I answered that allowing students opportunities for success breeds intrinsic motivation. Those were a few of the questions they asked.
Needless to say, the ultimate award went to a drama/ television production teacher from one of the high schools. I was extremely disappointed for a couple of reasons, but quickly moved on once I started going through the basket of swag I received.
My son has a movie that he loves to watch. It’s called “Everyone’s Hero.” It’s about a scrawny boy named Yankee who wants nothing more than to be able to hit a baseball, but he always swings and strikes out. He is made fun of and ridiculed by the larger boys. It’s an adventure of Yankee, a talking baseball named Screwie, and Babe Ruth’s bat named Darlin’. It ends with Yankee as pinch hitter for the Yankees in the World Series. At the end of the movie, the baseball announcer says, “And it just goes to show you……You can be the smallest, you can be the weakest, you can be the worst player on the field, but when people tell you you’re no good, and you should just give up, you know what you do? You just keep on swinging.”
Below is a link to a copy of my philosophy of education and my most memorable teaching moment. I just thought I’d put it on here so that you could get a little glimpse of me as a teacher.