Essential Educator Award Teacher Q&A: Lauren Calvert
Part three of our Q&A series with the Essential Educator Award winners. Read on for more from our Katy, TX Independent School District winner Lauren Calvert.
What made you want to become a teacher?
I have “been a teacher” since I was five. I come from a family of teachers all the way back to my great grandmother – boy would she be proud. I remember sitting in the hallways of the University of Houston (where my mom was taking classes to earn her teaching certificate) and listening through the cracked doors of the classrooms. I took the parts of the lessons that I could understand and created my own lessons that I would later teach to my dolls. When Santa surprised seven-year-old me with an overhead projector, my mom had no choice but to allow me to transform our guest bedroom into a classroom for every doll in the house. I used this new space to teach for the next several years. My dolls were among some of the best educated in the neighborhood! Although I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher, it was not until my junior year of college that I realized exactly what being a teacher meant. Ms. Frieda, my beloved Junior Methods professor, introduced me to a concept that I adhere to daily – heart before head. Simply put, we must reach our students’ hearts before we can attempt to reach their heads. My greatest accomplishment is sending my students home from school knowing that they are loved.
What have you learned about your profession in the past year?
This year I have learned that not only are students resilient but so are educators. As I reflect on the past year, I see teachers who have adjusted their instructional practices countless times in order to best meet the needs of their students. I see administrators working behind the scenes to support both students and teachers. I see everyone around me pitching in to do their part in ensuring that we are teaching students the value of resilience and grit. My profession models this belief every single day.
What has been the greatest challenge this past year?
This year, due to Covid, some of my students are online only. Adjusting to teaching both in person and online was a bit of a challenge at first. I wanted my online students to feel just as much a part of the community as my face-to-face students. The adjustment wasn’t easy, and I sometimes found myself flailing. During those times, I centered myself around my belief that heart comes before head. Once I grounded myself, I was able to build communities of learners, both online and face-to-face, by really getting to know each student and providing time for them to get to know each other. Learning about each other provided the basis for trust. Once trust is established, students are more willing to attend to the content. Getting to this realization was a challenge, but challenges are meant to be met.
What has been the greatest reward this past year?
This year has been full of rewards, and they are all related to seeing my students’ faces light up when they experience success. These successes all revolve around the work they do in Lexia PowerUp. So many of my students come to me with comprehension issues and by working through the lessons in PowerUp, they have actually experienced the benefits of improved comprehension. Also rewarding is listening to my students as they become invested in earning streaks in Lexia PowerUp. Their emotions rise and fall as they experience successes and setbacks.
One of my favorite rewards, however, is watching my students transfer the skills they’re learning in Lexia PowerUp to their independent reading. Along with improved comprehension, my students’ reading stamina is increasing. They are no longer stumbling through texts and giving up when it gets a little hard. I see more confident readers who are willing to push through the hard parts using the tools they’ve learned in Lexia PowerUp. Lexia PowerUp has provided the foundation to provide differentiated, quality intervention.
How does it feel to be honored with the Essential Educator award?
I am deeply honored to earn this award. Earning it was completely unexpected as I really feel like I was simply doing what needed to be done in order to provide the best learning experiences for my students. This award was not earned in isolation; I have had tremendous support from educators in my district and through our partnership with Lexia PowerUp. At no point was I ever alone in the implementation journey.
The monetary donation to the Kids in Need Foundation absolutely thrills me as their mission is to provide equal opportunity to quality education which I believe is fundamental to student success.