Earlier this month, we got an opportunity to learn about 4th grade English/ Language Arts and Social Studies teacher Jalana Robinson. She completed the ABCTE program in 7 months and is now teaching at Genesis Promise Academy, in Kansas City, MO.
Tell us about your professional background and experience (etc. previous profession, job experience, alma maters, major/minor)?
My background includes over seven years in higher education where I did academic, career and immigration advising. I also was an adjunct instructor for Learning Strategies (a study skills course for academic at-risk students) and Health Sciences Seminar (a professional development course for Health Sciences majors).
I have a Master’s in Education from the University of Missouri, and a Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences from the University of Glamorgan in Wales, United Kingdom.
Why did you choose the teaching profession?
I always wanted to teach. Even when I was a little kid I would line my stuffed animals up in a row, pretend they were students and proceed to teach them out of a teacher’s manual my mom had. My mom graded papers for a local elementary teacher, so we always had teacher’s manuals around the house. In college, I was persuaded to take a different route with my major. After college, I substitute taught as I was job hunting, and the very first class I subbed in made me want to be a teacher. I continued to sub off and on for several years and explored getting my teacher certification. However, all avenues required between two to three years of college coursework along with observation and student teaching hours that would not allow me to work full-time as I needed. I longed to be a teacher and kept researching alternative options until I came across the American Board program which allowed me to pursue my yearning to teach.
How have you merged your real-life experiences with teaching?
Before working with K-12 students, I had the unique opportunity to work as an academic advisor that helped teach college students how to prepare for college. Every day, I try to instill in my students what it takes now to prepare for college.
I also traveled and worked with individuals from a lot of different cultures. These are experiences I like to share where I can in the classroom.
How did you hear about the American Board program?
I was at a college info session for a teacher certification program when they mentioned the American Board program. I immediately went home and researched it and attended an info session by Kim Polk the next week.
Why did you decide to have American Board help certify you out of all the available programs?
The American Board program was the most realistic option for me to complete while working full-time, and the most cost effective.
How long did it take you to complete the program?
About 7 months
What did you enjoy about the program?
That it was all online and at my pace.
What have been your most positive teaching experiences?
The most positive teaching experiences have been finding ways for struggling students to understand concepts, and then watching them catch on and seeing their self-confidence build!
What challenges have you encountered as a teacher?
Working in an inner-city charter school has been very challenging because of the behavioral and emotional issues the students bring to the classroom.
What is your advice to those who are considering becoming a teacher?
I would recommend that others considering the profession talk with current teachers to learn about the work teachers put in behind the scenes: e.g. lesson planning, communicating with parents and using assessment data to develop differentiated learning groups.
What are a few misconceptions that people have about teachers?
People don’t realize how much teachers are working during their weekends and time off.
Do you have any tips for landing a job as a teacher?
Be willing to look for teaching jobs outside of your ideal area and comfort zone.
What books or resources would you recommend to other teachers?
The First Days of School by Henry Wong is an excellent resource and a fast read!
Name two apps that keep your life on track.
classdojo.com (wonderful classroom mgt resource for giving/taking daily points for good/bad behavior, plus parents can login and track their student)
What principles do you use to motivate students?
I use a rewards-based system, especially with inner city students. For example, if they earn a certain amount of weekly DoJo points for good behavior then they earn a prize. I also have found that telling students that I’m looking for their best work to publish on the bulletin board for the school to see helps motivate them.
Are there any hot debates in education you are currently tracking?
The transition to the new Smarter Balanced standardized test has generated a lot of discussion in how we teach students.
What is your philosophy of education?
I believe education should be tied to real world examples and experiences whenever possible.
Like Jalana, you too can become certified to teach in 7 months or less. So enroll now to positively impact your community.