This week’s feature is Haley Holland, a fourth grade teacher at Provost Elementary. Haley enjoyed the relationship she had with teachers growing up and wanted to have that same influence on her own students. She finds teaching is constantly giving her opportunities to learn and experience new things. Here is what Haley wrote about her reasons for teaching:

Why I Teach…

by Haley Holland

I teach to create positive relationships, to help others think in new ways, and to grow as an individual.

I teach to create positive relationships with my students. When I was in high school I read 2 books that changed my life: The View from Saturday and Wednesday Wars. Both books show teachers who took the time to meet the needs of the “kids they had”. While reading those books, I was able to reflect on my own experience with teachers growing up. I remembered how much I valued my relationship with my teachers, and how they helped me to grow and learn as an individual. That inspired me to choose teaching as a profession. (Essay continued below video.)

Now, having positive relationships with my students is my driving force for teaching every day. I look forward to greeting each of my students every morning and shaking their hands as they come in. I love thinking of individual students as I plan a lesson. For example, I recently changed my teaching strategy because I knew one of my students needed more hands on activities to stay focused. I also love that I can be a positive mentor in my students’ lives. One of my students recently made a plan of what she could do when she was feeling depressed. She wrote down that she could come and talk to me and I would help her. I love knowing that my students can trust me and that I can be a positive influence in their lives. That’s why I teach!

I also teach to help others think in new ways. In 4th grade we get to learn about Utah History! One of our standards is to talk about how human rights have changed throughout history in Utah. This year I taught my students about the Japanese Internment camp in Utah. It was hard for them to imagine that people would have to move and live in a fenced area, just because they had Japanese heritage. But, as they learned more about this challenging subject, my students were able to think in new ways. For example, one student was able to make a meaningful connection with a picture he saw. He saw a class of students at an internment camp and they had their hands on their heart and were saying the Pledge of Allegiance. My student said, “They probably said the pledge, because even though they knew they didn’t have justice, they hoped that one day there really would be justice for all.” I love helping students get to the point when they can think about things in a new way and make deeper connections. That’s why I teach!

Finally, I teach to grow and improve as an individual. I have never done anything in my life that is more difficult than teaching. But, when I have new expectations set for me, it has been an opportunity for me to improve as an individual. For example, last year I took a Learning Targets class through the district. They challenged us to have a Learning Target in every lesson. I took the challenge, and I improved as a teacher! The high expectations set for me have motivated me to improve.

I have also grown because of the support of other teachers. I am a third year teacher and I work on a team with 2 master teachers. Each week I share my concerns at my PLC and my teammates coach me on how to help my students. Last week, my students were struggling with fractions, so my team and I discussed strategies that I was able to implement in my class. As I have applied what I have learn, I see myself progress as a teacher and I make a greater impact on my students. That’s why I teach!

In conclusion, I teach because of positive relationships, the opportunity to impact my students’ thinking, and to grow as an individual.

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