In Support of Aspiring Teachers

By Laura Lensgraf, AP English Teacher, KIPP Houston


I read Colin Smith’s blog post in response to negativity surrounding the field of education and I feel compelled to respond. Like the naysayers, I also feel that education is not where it should be; yet my most important message to all aspiring teachers is this: our country needs great teachers — just like you.

Honestly, I haven’t been teaching that long – only eleven years. I have taught in both private and public schools; and by sheer luck, I found a teaching job with KIPP here in Houston. Something happened to me the day I walked into my first KIPP classroom. I realized that my job as a teacher was more than the public’s general perception of teaching: a robotic disseminator of information — the droning lecturer that bores us out of our mind. Quickly it became clear that a teacher’s job is to create an environment where students feel safe to learn – and challenged and pushed along the way. This environment begins with relationships, and relationships are the best part of teaching.

Today I had one-on-one student conferences with forty or so 11th graders concerning their college admission essays. As I spoke individually with each student, our conversation centered on each student telling me about his or her life and the world they live in. I believe that these conversations are the ones that matter in teaching, these conversations students remember.

So as you finish your degree — and I hope you do stick with it — then remember this advice. It doesn’t matter if you choose to teach pre-K, fourth grade, middle or high school. Each conversation presents an opportunity to build a relationship with a student, making a difference in his or her life.

I send you my best and hope that you will forgive the naysayers; they don’t remember (or sadly never had) a great teacher.