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So, You wanna be a teacher?

Updated: Oct 15, 2019


During this episode of the EduMagic Podcast, I sit down with Kathleen Trace. Listen in on our conversation and learn more about the importance of building a PLN before you leave college and to not give up on teaching and yourself. 💜

🔊 Listen until the end of the show to learn how you can win signed copies of EduMagic and Wanna Be Teacher - an Instagram challenge! 

Today we have the amazing Kathleen Trace. Kathleen and I connected last semester she was a virtual co-op for an amazing student, Mallory and they worked together creating artifacts with technology with purpose and authenticity. Before we get started into all of the amazing advice that you have for preservice teachers can you share with my listeners a little bit about your teaching story.

Kathleen's Teaching Story

Well I was one of those people who said I was never ever going to be a teacher because both of my parents were educators. My mom taught special education for 30 years and my dad was a school psychologist and I thought it for as long as I could and then I actually started substitute teaching when I was in college and I interned at all different kinds of places and I never felt more at home than when I was in a school. And I think if you like substitute teaching that tells you something. And so I actually did not get certified to teach when I was an undergraduate. I went and got my certification and my masters and I have never regretted it.

I double majored in undergrad in the areas of literature and cultural studies which basically meant English without the Shakespeare and poetry. I got to focus on what I really loved which was writing. And I was deciding as I was graduating college if I wanted to pursue the English or if I wanted to pursue psychology and I really did not enjoy the research aspects of a graduate degree in psychology or the kind of independent lonely nature of being a psychologist. Whereas the thought of being a teacher and having had that substitute teaching experience just made me believe that the schools were a place where I was going to feel energized and excited and my guy was really making a difference. So then I went to UVA School of Education to get my masters in secondary English education.

Favorite teaching moment from college

I had an absolutely amazing cooperating instructor when I was in my student teaching at Charlottesville high school in Charlottesville. Michael Irani and he's now principal but he was so interactive with the students. We actually did this activity he called agreed disagreed that I still do to this day where he would pose a statement on the board and then the students would either have to agree or disagree with that statement and they would move physically to the side of the room which was either agree or disagree.

Then they would have to give specific examples as to why they agreed or disagreed. They got so in-depth and so eloquent in what they were saying that I felt like these kids were learning about themselves and they were learning about life and they were learning about literature and they were learning about history. It was just one of those moments where you went home and you felt like this kid changed today and this is an amazing thing to be able to do so loudly and as teachers we get to see them on a daily weekly basis whether it's a whether it's a small change or a large change. It's one of the best perks of being a teacher. Feeling like you really helped somebody find something they were passionate about or help them learn something about themselves and you are very passionate about raising up that next generation of educators our future teachers.

What advice do you have regarding EduMagic that future teachers need to hear?

A PLN. I just honestly it's only been probably the past year maybe even less that I've really tapped into a PLN. The people beyond my school and the people that I actually interact with in my division and I met you through Twitter. I met Mallory through Twitter through you and it's just been such an amazing experience. Seeing this whole community out there that is just as passionate as I am and has all these ideas that they're willing to share.

I think one of the most dangerous things in teaching is teachers who curl up in their rooms and don't want to share and don't want to help other teachers engage their students in ways that are new and exciting.

People are on social media and it's been a really eye opening experience to me and I know you teach your students that because Mallory has been absolutely amazing and she's taught me so much and it's been a really cool experience.

Can you share a little bit about the virtual co-op experience that you did this semester?

So when Mallory Mallory emailed me several months ago and at first I was like I'm not even sure how we got connected. And she said OK well this is what we're doing and I've never done a virtual co-op before and it sounded really interesting. Then she started we we did a face time where we just chatted and she was just darling. Throughout the semester she said here's what we're learning about. I want to use this tool to make something for you to use in your classroom. It was so neat because I could give her the content and then she made like a I'm not even sure if I'm going to say it right because I'm not familiar with it I'm learning from her like tools such as Gynzy. Which was so cool and she made this she made a google form which we used for the newspaper to collect data. She made a review game for my newspaper kids and we're actually going to use next week.

I haven't even used everything that she's created for us but it's really been neat because I've been able to share with her my classroom experiences and then she's been able to share with me the technology that she's learning currently in her education program which didn't exist when I went through my education program 15 years ago.

It's a beautiful collaboration. They're able to bring the tech in and what's going on in the tech world. And you guys bring the pedagogy the experience the methodology and blended together. It's a beautiful virtual learning experience. It really is, I highly recommend it to people.

Back to your passion for a preservice teachers and raising up the next generation. What is one piece of advice that you have for those teacher educators out there listening today?

The biggest piece of advice that I have is that it's worth it. There's gonna be people that tell you constantly Well you don't make any money you know you don't get respected. I've been at it for like I said 14 years and there's been very few things other than having my own children. That has been more rewarding than what I get to do in the classroom. Sure I'm not buying a yacht off my teacher's salary but I'm getting paid in points of personal happiness and well-being and knowing that I'm making a difference in the lives of future generations.

When I have students that contact me years after they graduated and say I remember that project I'm using that skill now in my job. That's just something you can't get in any other career. And you've really got to push through all that negativity that's in our culture right now about education to get to that point where you can be that teacher that's making that difference. I know that these preservice teachers can do it. If they they don't let all that negativity get to them they're gonna be amazing educators and they're going to change the face of future generations.

I couldn't agree more. Keeping keeping with it is so worth it. Like you said absolutely. So not only are you impacting the lives of the students in your classroom but you're also impacting the lives of future teachers through your book Wanna Be Teacher Guide.

Can you share a little bit about your book where we can find it a little elevator pitch about it.

Sure. So. I wrote Wanna Be Teacher Guide after only having taught for a couple years. I started on it while I was in maybe my second or third year teaching because I felt like my teaching program didn't prepare me for the actual experience of teaching. You get the theory and you get the minimal classroom experience. But I wanted a checklist for what to do during three service week. And what do I need to get done on the first day of school in the first week of school in the first month.

I felt like I had now the experience that I could share in a very kind of quick and easy to read and bullet pointed because no new teacher has time to read something long that they want to get the answer they want to get it fast. I felt like I could create that resource and that's what I tried to do to kind of take it from I think I want to be a teacher to surviving that first year which is by far the toughest. But we all get through it.

We all survive it and we're better teachers for it. I feel that we are better and better each year. Absolutely and can only get better from there. Everyone has to go through their first year there might be scars and might be tears and tons of lapses be tons of smile yes but we all have to get through it. We do.

You can find it on Amazon Wanna Be Teacher Guide. It is on Kindle and paperback.

I remember hearing you in a different podcast The Ed tech guys PODCAST. You said it's it is on budget for is budget friendly for teachers. I know what it's like to live on ramen noodles. You're a teacher and you're not only are you not. You're not even a teacher yet you're in preserve as teacher. It's not it's not easy. Bullet point is this gives us all the ins and outs of surviving that first year and also budget friendly. That is so considerate of an author as an author.

Thank you and I encourage actually in the book because a number of the checklists I encourage readers because it is an inexpensive book rip the checklist pages out take them to your desk the first week of school literally check the things off the checklist.

Rip this out right out now.

I self published so that I'm constantly learning every day and things in actual government and policy as far as education go are changing every day and by doing that route I can literally if a new law goes into place on a Wednesday I can have the book updated and all the new information in it on Thursday. I chose to go that route so that it can constantly be fresh because it's a career that is different every day every week every year.

Who do you recommend preservice teachers follow on Twitter or Instagram and why?

I've been following the teach better team and participating in their Thursday night Twitter chats. I have gotten a ton out of that and they asked great questions and they're not only focused on their pedagogy but last week was focused on teacher self care which is something we don't necessarily talk about. So I highly recommend #Masterychat

What is one tech tool that you love using in your classroom?

Well I'm biased because I'm a newspaper woman. We use Photoshop and InDesign every day and we just got the new updated versions and we are loving it and creating some awesome stuff for our student journalists.

What song gets you pumped up to teach?

Ever since several years ago on the very first day of school I was driving into school and this Katy Perry eye of the Tiger came on. Not the original eye of the tiger from rocky but it's the Katy Perry version. I'm not sure if that's the title but you know what I'm talking about ever since. That on my way to school on the first day and the mascot of the school that I happened to be teaching at at the time was the tiger. So that gets me pretty pumped up.

What is in your teaching bag. What is your favorite teaching accessory. One thing you can't have without during your class? Mine is a cup of coffee.

I actually like to keep chocolate covered almonds with me at all times. As a teacher you know you often go long stretches without having a chance to eat and if you're in front of a class and your blood sugar drops and you're like. "oh man watch out".

What are you currently binge watching on Netflix or Hulu Amazon Prime or whatever streaming service you use?

My favorites are not on right now. I am totally a period piece sucker. I love Victoria. I love the crown but none of them have new episodes on right now so I'm very sad.

One more thing before we go!

For the first year of teaching I just think that it's important that they know that it's okay to not feel like you really know what you're doing. Take it day by day and sometimes not have a lesson that goes great. And to learn from it and to make changes and just keep growing and keep persevering and it'll get better and better. Then you'll be able to tangibly feel the difference that you're making in the learning that you're creating.

Contest time!

We have a special giveaway going on through Instagram! This contest will run through This contest will run through August 31st at midnight Eastern time so I look forward to hearing all your takeaways and your posts and I look forward to connecting with all of you. Good luck.

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Step 2: Post one takeaway from this episode using hashtag #EduMagic

Shout outs in this episode include @mtrumbull5, @MichaelCIrani, @GynzyUS, @edutechguys, and @teachbetterteam

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