Teacher’s Personal Perspective – STORIES FROM SCHOOL AZ


For this month, I wanted to interview teachers at different experience levels and see how similar or different their answers are depending on their experience in the classroom. The teachers that participated have taught for 2 years, 5 years, 9 years, 13 years, 14 years, and over 20 years.

The first question I asked was what made you want to become a teacher initially? The answers varied slightly, but no matter the experience, they all wanted to get into the education profession to make a positive difference in the lives of students.

I also asked why they continue teaching, is it for the same reasons as previously stated? Everyone I spoke to said the same things. They continue to teach to make an impact on student learning. They mentioned that it has become more difficult lately, but that is all the more reason to stay. The most experienced teacher mentioned that her perspective has changed slightly to impact students and teachers at her school site to make a difference to more students overall. The questions that got a more varied response were about what they believe they do well, and what area they feel they could improve in.

What have you become better at?

2 years: I have become better at having students track and identify their data.

5 years: I’ve become better at prioritizing what must be done each day and leaving the rest until tomorrow.

9 years: Setting boundaries and balancing my professional and personal life.

13 years: I feel that I have become better at understanding how their little minds work.

14 years: This year I am better at small groups and pulling students over to re-teach. I have been better at a solid routine for the day and not doing things on the fly.

22 years: Organization and data tracking

What is an area that you feel you could improve in?

2 years: I think I could improve in Phonics.

5 years: I always feel that I could improve my time efficiency. Sometimes I overexplain and I think it’s unnecessary at times.

9 years: As I do more coaching, I’d like to make improvements on my confidence in teaching adults.

13 years: An area that I can improve in would have to be trying new things and sticking with them.

14 years: Always need to improve in not collecting so much data and sticking to small groups. It always feels like I am testing 1:1.

22 years: Being flexible. With so many standards and expectations for teachers, it is hard to be flexible with new things.

It was interesting to see what the perspectives were about what they feel great about and what could use some improvement. I believe the answers to these questions change from year to year. Perhaps we all grow and change, no matter how much or how little experience we have in the classroom. What are your answers to these questions?

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Sarah Kirchoff

Sarah Kirchoff is a kindergarten teacher in the Higley Unified School District. She has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. She began her teaching career way back in August 1999, when everyone was worried about Y2K. She did not even have computers in her classroom at that time! Since then, she has taught first grade for four years, preschool for three years, second grade for two years and kindergarten for twelve years. She has worked for three different school districts during her teaching career. During this time, she has been able to identify which grade she found to be the most enjoyable. Her greatest teaching passion is for kindergarten. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. She was teacher of the year at her school in the 2019-2020 school year. Most recently, she became a National Board Certified Teacher as an Early Childhood Generalist in December of 2020. She currently serves on numerous committees at her school including school site council, the instructional leadership team, and the culture and climate team. She is a mentor teacher at her school and has mentored numerous interns and student teaching candidates. When she is not busy with school commitments, she spends time with her family. She has a husband who is also a teacher, and four children. Two of which are students at NAU and two that are in high school. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading books and spending time with family, friends and her two dogs.

Young children need a teacher that is always advocating for them, socially, emotionally, and academically. Sarah wants every student she encounters to realize their potential and she is willing to help in any way she can. The impact early childhood educators have on students reaches far beyond their younger years. Sarah wants to leave a positive impact on her students so they can continue to have wonderful educational experiences beyond her classroom.


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