Happy Teachers Appreciation Week! - Charissa S. McAuliff
Editor’s note: It is National Teacher Appreciation Week. As part of the celebration, we profiled teachers throughout the state. Here’s one:
Charissa S. McAuliff, Dubuque Community School District
- Grade levels taught: Grades 6, 5, 4, 3, K for nine years; English Language Learners (ELL) grades K-5 for 11 years
- Subjects taught: English Language
- School: Fulton Elementary School
- District: Dubuque Community School District
- How many years have you been teaching: 20 years
Why are you passionate about teaching?
I am passionate about teaching because I love and care about working with children. I want the best for them and their future. I want to impart to them as much of what I know; I care about them both academically and socially. Instilling the love for learning and change is what I want them to remember about me along with a strong work ethic.
What have you learned during the past year teaching during the pandemic?
I have learned that it is possible to teach successfully online using technology as long as the students have the technology they need and have access to stable internet service.
What do you think are keys to a student’s success and how do you help foster that?
The key for a student’s success is to build a relationship with them and their families. This is done by frequent communication, doing home visits, and making sure that the families have the basic needs to survive – food, clothing and shelter.
The families I work with also need help navigating the educational system and the changes that happen. In the classroom, recognizing the strengths of our students and helping them use that strength to build up the areas that are not so strong. We also have to teach students at their level so they feel successful and are encouraged to take risks in their learning.
Over the years, how have you grown as an educator?
Education has changed over the 20 years I have been teaching. My growth as an educator has been in flexibility and acceptance. The reason is that I have been moved frequently between grade levels.
I have taught grades 6, 4, 3, 4, 3, 3, 3, 5, and kindergarten (in that order) before taking my position as an ELL teacher for the past 11 years. I have had to move classrooms about 10 times in the years I’ve been in the same building.
My professional growth has also been in learning different grade level curricula as my job positions changed along with implementation of new district-wide curricula and strategies. Also, as society has changed and our jobs have changed, our roles as teachers have included the work of parents, social workers and counselors. All that has been added to my skill set as an educator.
What opportunities do you see in the next few years in education?
My hope for the next few years is more acceptance of people from other cultures and the realization that there are mini-cultures within students’ families. There needs to be opportunities for people from other cultures to become teachers so the student body of a school reflects the educators in the building. We need to teach historical and cultural facts from various viewpoints. These are opportunities for growth in schools and can provide deep conversations for change. I think that more people who have worked in other sectors will be open to coming into education and bring the wealth of knowledge from the workplace to share with our children.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
My fifth-grade teacher Ms. Bernardino was my favorite teacher. She made me want to come to school and learn. She taught us in a way that made us want to listen to her and be like her. She loved us for who we were and saw us as little humans with our own stories to tell.