Last month, I was in Frankfort serving as Grand Marshal in Governor Steve Beshear’s inaugural parade. I was honored to represent Kentucky teachers on this historic day and look forward to sharing the message that education is the key to Kentucky’s future.
Such discussion of the future is certainly appropriate for this time of year. A new year means a fresh start for all of us, and for educators, it means a new semester. Christmas break, for me, will mean sitting down with my lesson and unit plans, purging what “didn’t work” and spending hours generating new lessons that (hopefully) do. You probably spend your Christmas break doing something similar. Planning. Reflecting. Revising. Change is such a constant part of our job, whether it be changes in legislation, changes in funding or changes in curriculum. Our success, and our students’, depends upon our ability to adapt and grow.
It has only been a few months since I was named Teacher of the Year, but I’ve already had some amazing experiences. I’ve spent time with former Teacher of the Year, Erika Webb. I had the privilege of meeting U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and was invited to attend his roundtable discussion in Louisville. And I’ve gotten to share my teacher’s perspective in this very column. All of these experiences have put me in close contact with educators from across our state, and I always walk away from these meetings having learned something from them.
I’m frequently humbled, and always reminded, that teachers must remain students themselves. I have to laugh (and sometimes cringe) when people make comments about me being a “perfect” teacher because of this honor. I represent Kentucky teachers, and like any good teacher, I recognize that I still have much to learn. I’m not afraid to admit that I still have those days where, in the middle of a lesson, I suddenly realize the kids are right – this IS boring. Or, those days where, after grading an assessment, I realize that perhaps I did not teach a skill as well as I thought I had. I’ve come a long way since my first year in the classroom, but I’ve still got 20 more. I have to keep growing.
As this semester draws to a close, and as our state looks forward to what is ahead, I’m reminded of how fortunate I am to be a Kentucky educator. We live and work in a state where education is a priority and where teachers have a voice. It is a state where an English teacher can be chosen to lead the governor’s inaugural parade. However, as I begin to plan for next semester, I’m also reminded that teaching is not easily mastered. I have to work harder each year to become the best teacher I can possibly be. And I’m not there yet.
Kimberly Shearer, an English teacher at Boone County High School, was named the 2012 Teacher of the Year on Oct. 18, 2011. During her year-long reign, Shearer is writing a monthly column for Kentucky Teacher that chronicles her experiences as a classroom teacher and as Kentucky Teacher of the Year. The column runs the second week of each month.