If I can do it, so can you: how I became KDP’s National Student Teacher of the Year

Jenna Haskins is a Long Island resident and certified elementary school teacher. She graduated from Dowling College in 2013 and was the 2013 recipient of the KDP/ATE National Student Teacher of the Year Award.

Jenna headshotI never thought I would actually be named the KDP/ATE Student Teacher of the Year, but when I found out about this opportunity, nothing could stop me from trying. No award of this importance is the work of just one person. There are many people who contributed: my professors, my cooperating teachers, my students, and my family.

I came across this award when I was in my last semester at Dowling College, completing my student teaching experience in a third-grade classroom. The combination of creating a lesson for this opportunity and wanting to leave my students with a lasting impression became my focus.

It did take a lot of work, and certainly a lot of creativity to put this video together in order to be ready to submit. I created a lesson on “Discrimination and The Power of Acceptance,” based on Jane Elliott’s 1968 “Brown Eyed, Blue Eyed Experiment.” I also used President Barack Obama’s, “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to my Daughters.”

Jenna at Convo 2I am grateful that this lesson won me this prestigious award, but the reaction of my students to this lesson was the true win for me.  Making my students feel discrimination first hand was the most powerful experience I have ever undergone. Being able to create an experience for my students, to be carried with them beyond the classroom, reminds me each day why I entered the field of education.

A few pieces of advice for new teachers from a new teacher herself:

  • Never lose sight of the end result. There will be moments, days, or even weeks that seem like an endless battle when you are in the classroom. DON’T GIVE UP! Your students need you!
  • Never stop inspiring hope in your students. For some, this is there safe haven and home away from home. Make sure they’re comfortable and encourage them to be their best every day.
  • Ignite your students’ imagination in every lesson you teach. Make it fun for them, so they care and want to learn more. Making your students care is the KEY to success.
  • Never miss a chance to go far beyond teaching the curriculum. Your students should be connecting every lesson you teach to the real world. Make them understand WHY they are learning it.
  • Lastly, always remember, you chose teaching for a reason!

I entered the teaching profession because I want to impact the world, and the art of teaching allows you to do that. Education, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful tools in society. Should there ever be a day you question what you do, just take a second and look in the eyes of your students and you will know you are right where you are supposed to be, making a difference. You have the ability to shape our future. Thank you for being a part of a profession that makes a world of difference!

Jenna at ConvoAnd remember, you’ll miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. So, my advice is to take the shot and apply for KDP/ATE National Student Teacher of the Year for 2014. This could be your year!

To view my lesson on “Discrimination and The Power of Acceptance,” visit my online portfolio

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