May 22, 2013

Teachers Talk Back: Joanna Fuller

Joanna Fuller is a middle school teacher and Math Department Chair at Audubon Middle School. She is in her third year of teaching.

Why did you become a teacher?

I believe that relationships are why we are here. It’s not about money or success, but how we relate to people and how we can best serve others. Teaching is one of the few jobs where you get to build relationships with people constantly and where you can see results from the investment you’ve put in. It’s definitely something that is worthwhile.

What keeps you in the classroom?

The fact that I am recognized by my administration and by my colleagues is huge. But the real reason I stay is because I go home knowing that my students are thinking about what happened in class today. For 55 minutes each day, I am able to impact my students through the way I model life, through the way I relate to them, and through the way I view math as an important part of everyday life.

When my students tell me they think or talk about our classroom culture outside of the 55 minute class period, I know I am doing my job and I’m making a lasting impact.

What drives your success with students?

Relationships. Kids want to be known. They want someone to see them for who they are and to recognize them for their strengths, but also to identify their weaknesses and work with them to improve.  I think also, my students would say class is fun. Class is engaging because we talk about math in real life situations. I bring in YouTube clips to get them hooked and keep things fun and interesting.

How would you like to see public education changed?

Teachers need the time and space to be able to relate to their students holistically. Education is not an assembly line – it’s about developing them as whole people.

Of course academic growth is important and we need to be held accountable, but it can sometimes mean we end up focusing on one test, one day, instead of focusing on teaching them how to think and become better people.

Why did you become an E4E member?

E4E is fighting for the rights of the students. What I want for my career and my classroom is whatever is best for my kids. I appreciate that there is no hidden agenda.  It really is about the students.