Why I Chose and Continue to Choose To Be An Educator
Published: March 30, 2023
Author: Alyssa Jones
I believe that every child deserves a quality educational experience; not by chance but by design. Every child deserves to have adults who believe in him/her. I believed this at the beginning of my career, and it continues to be a driving force behind my why for staying in this field. Prioritizing strategies to maximize the impact on student learning is a foundational piece for how I live this out.
This can be summed up in four words: I have a tribe. For me, understanding my why is only part of the equation; my community of people is what I need to thrive. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Who we spend time with influences who we become as these people can elevate us or bring us down. I am better because I sit at the table of an army of educational greats. At this table, it is safe for me to be out of my comfort zone which helps me gain clarity on my purpose in both life and work. Being anchored in purpose helps me to manage setbacks and challenges. At this table, I am surrounded by collective genius - each person bringing unique strengths, gifts, and talents.
In this space, I can wrestle with vulnerability because these people are Marble Jar Friends. In her book Daring Greatly, author Brené Brown tells a story about her daughter Ellen who came home from school one day completely distraught, crying uncontrollably. Ellen described that something really hard happened to her at school and she shared it with some close friends at recess. By the time she got back into the classroom, everyone in the class knew what had happened, and was laughing at her, to the point of being so disruptive that the teacher had to take marbles out of the marble jar. The teacher kept a jar in the classroom and each time the class did something positive a marble went in the jar. Conversely, when the class veered into the land of negatives, marbles were removed. Ellen describes it as one of the worst moments of her life, and said to her mother, “I will never trust anyone again. ”Her mother, Brene, responds, “Trust is like a marble jar. You share those hard things happening to you to friends who have, over time, filled up your marble jar; who you know you can trust and tell difficult things to.” My Marble Jar Friends speak truth to me - even when I may not like it - which keeps me grounded. These people are my soft place to fall when I make mistakes. These people root for me; they believe I can do hard things.
I also believe that individual and collective celebrations, as well as the practice of gratitude, are capstones in staying in the field of education. Shifting to a stance of appreciation helps to build our resilience. Good things happen all the time in classrooms and schools, and we have to practice pausing to see and celebrate them. Developing this habit brings joy to my work. Chase Mielke is an award-winning educator, writer, and speaker who focuses on preventing teacher burnout and increasing student engagement. I saw him speak at a conference a couple of years ago. In my notebook, I scribbled down his words that spoke right to my heart, “purpose is a fire that must be stoked often.” For me, it isn’t enough to be “on fire” as an educator as fire alone will not sustain and keep me in this field. But because this “fire”- also known as my why - is stoked often through conversations at the table with people who refine, challenge, and inspire me, I can continue as an educator. The work we do within this field makes a difference in the lives of students - who are our future. It is an honor to be a part of something which holds the power for such great impact.
Alyssa is an Instructional Coach in Illinois where she leads educators in professional development aligned with best practices and collaborates with teachers during coaching cycles. A Google Certified Educator, Alyssa values the combination of tech tools and learning intentions to create a masterful design for instruction. Alyssa has a BS in Special Education, a BS in Elementary Education, and a MA in Curriculum Development and Instruction. She is currently finishing her Ed.S in Educational Administration and Leadership. Alyssa is also a National Board-Certified Teacher. She has presented at various state and national conferences on social-emotional learning and cultural competence, assessment and grading practices, language arts instruction, project-based learning, and digital citizenship. Alyssa’s husband Mike is a Middle School Principal and they have three children: Maddie who is eight and twins Hannah and Hudson who are three.