Teachers are not only meant to help students learn but to prepare them for the world after school. Working with students on life skills and preparations for their careers can be more fulfilling than other aspects of education. Amber McCoy talks about her career in education.

(Photo Courtesy of Amber McCoy)

(Photo Courtesy of Amber McCoy)

What degree program did you study?

“I earned a B.S. in mathematics in 2005 from the University Of Houston, Clear Lake. A few years later, I entered Pasadena’s Alternative Teacher Certification Program and began teaching in 2009.”

What does your current job entail? 

“I work at Tegeler Career Center in Pasadena, Texas. I am a ninth grade algebra teacher at a school for at-risk learners. My job entails what most teachers’ jobs entail: classroom management, engaging learners, and keeping parents informed about what goes on in class.  We are a one-on-one campus so I use technology every day. I spend a lot of time using an app called Remind to engage my parents and students and to keep them informed. Students and parents love that I am always available to answer questions and share news. Remind is something I use just about every day in an effort to always keep parents and students in the know. That seems to be the most important role as a teacher when the students leave for the day.”

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role? 

“Yes and no. It prepared me to teach my content. It did not prepare me to deal with the behavioral, social, emotional, and physical issues most of my students and parents deal with on a daily basis. I had a huge learning curve when it came to things other than the math.”

Have you participated in any form of continuing education? 

“Of course! I feel you are as good as your last training. I attended summer workshops and institutes throughout the summer every year, from conscious discipline to how to use the one-on-one technology more effectively in my classroom. I also attend a very unconventional type of education through Twitter. I have learned so much from following other educators. Twitter is where I found the Remind app that has changed my classroom information system.  If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest in education, how could you not be using Twitter and continuing to learn new and better ways to engage students?”

Do you have any advice for people wanting to pursue a similar career? 

“Know your students and their families and what they have to contend with every day. Find common ground with your students and build a relationship from the things you can build upon. Once a student knows you care about them, they will be open to learn. That was the hardest thing for me to get my head around. Embrace technology and use it every day. Gone are the days of pencil and paper and taking notes while a teacher lectures. Mix it up and have fun!”

Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston. She graduated from Rice University with a great love for all performing and visual arts. She enjoys writing about arts and cultural events, especially little-known ones, to help Houstonians learn about what’s going on in their city. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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