While we all have our own personal experiences with education, being a teacher is a lot different than being a student. Through our teacher highlights, we aim to showcase the experiences of our teachers in education and with the Residency program. Read below for Lilly Moss’s experience with KCTR. This blog is transcribed from an interview which was conducted and recorded on November 5th, 2019.
What brought you into the education field?
“I come from a family that is full of educators, from principals to teachers to coaches. Education is something that has always been really important to my family. It was never a matter of “if” I was going to go to college, it was about where I was going to go and what I was going do when I got there. Originally education was not the path that I had planned for myself, just because coming from a family with so many educators, I wanted to create my own lane and to do something that I felt like was different than them. So I started off in journalism and in marketing and communications, but I wasn’t really satisfied with those jobs. I felt unfulfilled and so when I started looking at other career avenues education was something that always kind of popped back up into my mind.
My Grandmother was an elementary school teacher for over 40 years. Being able to see so many of her previous students come back and visit her 40 – 50 years later said a lot to me. She was teaching them when they were in first, second, and third grade. Seeing them come back as adults really showed me the impact that my Grandmother was able to make on so many different students’ lives. And when I saw that, it all kind of “clicked” for me that this was something that I was really interested in doing. Even though I might not be seeing the impact I’m making right now, it’s going to come full circle.”
What’s been the most rewarding experience you’ve had in education so far?
“I would say that one of the most rewarding things that I’ve come across so far while doing my residency is honestly building relationships with my students. Because I am in an elementary school setting, I’m with the same students every day and I’m going to be with them throughout the entire school year with them. Building relationships is something that I love to do in general. I love to talk to people and get to know them. Getting to know each student on an individual level has been interesting. It’s been really fun getting to talk to them about their weekend and what their plans are and their families and things like that. So I think that building relationships with them and really getting to know the students has been one of the most rewarding things.”
Why did you choose the Kansas City Teacher Residency?
“There are a lot of education programs out there. I did my research and I looked into some quick certification programs, but the thing that stood out to me with KCTR was the support that they have, as well as the residency model. Being able to work in the same classroom for an entire school year is something that’s really important to me. It allows me to build relationships with some of the students that I have in the classroom as well as being able to work alongside a mentor who is helping me become a great teacher. Being able to work alongside my Mentor and learn different styles and different techniques as well as having support from KCTR is something I think is really important.
We do get a coach that works with us for our support and I think that’s really important and that’s kind of what stood out and made a difference to me. The coaching aspect is extremely important. We are getting weekly check-ins with a coach and they are someone who really wants the best for us and wants us to be successful and wants to see us succeed. I feel really comfortable and at ease whenever I’m having an issue or whenever I need to talk to someone about the things that are going on within the program. If I’m needing some additional support or just a little bit of a boost that’s what the coaches are there for and I really appreciate having that.
As I was moving into education I had a lot of people ask me, “Why are you going to get your Masters in education? Why can’t you just teach with your bachelors?” For me, KCTR is going to give me the tools and the things that I need to really succeed and if I can help get some of that paid for, with some of the stipend and with some of the grants and things like that, then I just felt like why not take that opportunity?”
What would you say is the most important thing to understand before becoming a resident teacher?
“In my opinion, the most important thing to understand before becoming a resident is the time commitment that you are going to have to put in for this program. I’m not going to lie – we are extremely busy. We’re taking grad school classes. We’re in a classroom in elementary school or possibly maybe in middle school, four days a week. It’s a lot of time. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of energy. We’re constantly at meetings with our mentor teacher. We go to the same meetings that our mentor teacher goes to. We plan with our mentor teacher. We attend some of the same events that our mentor teacher does. So it really is a time commitment, but it also is really worth it. I will just say it’s important to prioritize and to be able to organize your life. I’ve definitely had to start using a planner a lot more than I did previously just because of all the different things that we have going on!
Being a teacher is more than just being a teacher. It’s more than just being an educator. As a teacher, sometimes you are educating, and you are teaching, but you’re also a mentor to your students. You’re a role model to them. Sometimes you are a friend or you are a mediator. There are so many different roles that come into play when you are a teacher. It is a lot of work and there is a lot of work to do outside of work. But I think that the reward that comes with teaching really does pay off.”
“This is a full-time thing. In some other professions, you have the opportunity to go to work and then you go home and that’s it. You don’t have to think about work. You can get everything thatyou need to get done within your workday. That is not the case for teachers. Teachers often come in an hour or more before students are even here. It’s not just for planning and grading. There are meetings and professional development. People always say, “but you get summers off” or, “But you get winter break!” and while that is partly true, there are meetings, and lesson planning, and more professional development going on during that time. It’s not like we can just be at home all day during breaks sleeping in and watching Netflix. There’s a lot more that goes into it that I don’t think a lot of people realize. It really is a full-time job. It’s really like a full-time-and-a-half or two full-time jobs just because of the amount of work that honestly goes in. When you really care about your students and when you want to really push them and see them succeed and you want to perform and give them high-quality teaching, that takes time. It’s not something that you can just wake up and throw together. It really does take time to truly plan a lesson that you know that your students will get.”
Lillian Moss is a 2019-2020 KCTR Resident and is currently serving at Crestwood Elementary in North Kansas City.