The Modern Educator: Sara Bailey

April 21, 2017

Hector Boldo works with teachers every day- but not in the classroom. As an integral team member at SchoolStatus, Hector is one of the first in line to assist with your special reports, smart tags, or helping teachers and administrators make their first calls using Channel. Hector recently took the opportunity to sit down and chat with Sara Bailey, a 4th grade teacher from Lamar County School District.

Hector: Hi Sara! Thanks for talking to me. I'm just going to jump right in. How has teaching changed your life?

Sarah: Teaching changed my life by allowing me the autonomy to have an impact on our future generations. I still have memories of teachers from when I was in grade school. I hope that my current students' experiences may impact their lives positively in the future.

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Hector: I feel sure that they will! What do you like most about teaching as a career?

Sara: I enjoy making a difference in the students' lives. I enjoy seeing the joy and excitement in the students' faces when they learn a new skill or complete a difficult task.

Hector: I can understand why you feel that way! I'm curious about the less fun stuff, too. What is your least favorite aspect of teaching?

Sara: My least favorite aspect of teaching is the amount of extra paperwork that takes away time from planning effective lessons and my family. I, as every teacher, spend many hours throughout the evenings and weekends planning, grading, and preparing to have the most positive influences in the classroom during the school day.

Hector: The amount of work outside the classroom seems to be invisible to most people, for sure. That's definitely something we try to help with. Ok, let's switch gears: describe the "worst" or the "best" lesson you have taught. What did you learn from it?

Sara: I cannot think of a specific "best" or "worst" lesson that I've taught. Many lessons are successful or unsuccessful based on the students you have at the time. Finding ways to connect with students and keep them engaged is an ongoing task. What works for one class may not work with another. In my opinion, teachers must learn about their students first in order to plan successful, engaging lessons.

Hector: Ah, I see. Every class and every student is different. Speaking of that, I know every student faces a different set of challenges. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students today?

Sara: There are many serious challenges facing students today. I think one major challenge that all students face is learning responsible, caring behavior in the face of all the irresponsible behavior shown, and even promoted, by the media – television, radio, the Internet, etc. Unfortunately, too many adults base their behavior on what they see and hear in the media and provide poor role models for students.

Hector: I agree. There are a lot of mixed messages in what students hear. What would you say is the most difficult aspect of teaching today?

Sara: The most challenging aspect of teaching for me is probably making sure every lesson connects with the students. Although I consider this to be challenging, I believe it is also the most important part of creating a lesson. Connecting to a varied group of students with different attitudes, interests, and backgrounds is a big task. If you demonstrate to students that you are eager to find something that interests them, they will work for you. Every day, every class, every lesson - this a challenge. However, it's also the key to creating meaningful knowledge and experiences for your students.

Hector: That sounds like a necessary as well as inspiring goal. Is there a particular way that you find to motivate your students?

Sara: I encourage and motivate my students by providing a positive, encouraging, and safe atmosphere for students to learn. In addition, I believe in providing my students with a lot of positive reinforcement.

Hector: That sounds very basic- but nothing can happen without it. I am grateful for safe atmospheres when I was in school. I think a lot of that can be grown from strong community building and parental engagement. How do you establish and maintain good communication with the parents of your students?

Sara: I find it easier today to keep an open line of communication with parents than when I first began teaching. Technology offers many outlets that allow me to stay in contact and communicate with the parents of my classes. The use of messaging apps, phone services, and email allows for easy and consistent communication with parents.

Hector: That's great! As a company, we have dedicated a lot of time to the intersection of data analytics and parental engagement. Do you have any advice for others on how to establish and maintain good communication with parents?

Sara: The best advice I can give others is to utilize every communication outlet that is at their disposal. We have moved pretty far into a technology driven era. A simple note home in the backpack or phone call during school hours may still be the best, but it is not always the most efficient. Utilizing technology such as messaging services, email, and other applications makes communication easier and more impactful.

Hector: You are right, Sara! Thank you so much for your time answering my questions, but more importantly, thank you for all that you do with students in Lamar County! Cheers!

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