Every Sunday morning, educators from around the globe join #sunchat to participate in an edcamp style Twitter chat. I love this chat because the conversation usually goes in many directions allowing educators to truly understand a topic on many levels. Each week, Starr Sackstein fearlessly leads the discussion on #sunchat, contributing her expertise and encouraging others to share. She also is the author of Blogging for Educators which has inspired us here at Four O’Clock Faculty.
We are proud to have Starr share her insight with us this week!
5 Questions with… Starr Sackstein
- What do you most want your students to take with them from your classroom, school or district?
The highest goal I have in my classes is self-actualization. Every child should walk away from my class confident about the world he or she is walking into, knowing that he/she is ready. Teaching mostly seniors is a unique opportunity and I’m investing in making them life ready providing them with essential writing and communicating skills as well as time management, collaboration and innovation opportunities all year long. These creative projects coupled with reflection provide students with the tools to understand themselves, what they know and can do as well as how to ask for help when it is needed.
- What are the most rewarding and/or the most frustrating aspects of education?
The most rewarding aspects of teaching are those moments when students in my space get it and recognize that they do. Simple exchanged of gratitude in a smile or the realization that they can do something now that they couldn’t before and they know it. I feel honored to be a part of that process – that they let me help them and value my judgement. The most frustrating part is on the other side of that when students can’t get out of their own way because they think they know best. They don’t understand that their choices are hurting themselves and I’m just trying to help them. This adolescent shortcoming coupled with administrative edicts passed down from above makes teaching harder than it needs to be. That being said, there is a certain level of expectation that these things exist and although frustrating, it doesn’t outweigh the good.
- What advice would you give to young teachers?
Treat yourself kindly. You will make many mistakes and that’s okay, although sometimes it won’t feel that way. Treat yourself as you would treat a child learning something new. Don’t be afraid to take risks and most importantly, ask for help, often.
- What has influenced your career the most?
So many things have influenced me over the years, but the many teachers of my childhood who later became my mentors are a big influence. Their impact on my life, has continually made me strive to be that kind of role model for my students. In addition to the wisdom that came before, the folks I’ve met on Twitter have helped me take risks in my practice which have really changed my teaching.
- As an educator, what are you currently focused on?
My current focus is on education reform in the area of assessment. We need to get rid of grades and take the emphasis off competition in learning. Students need to focus on mastery of skills and learning and less on beating their friends to an A by playing school. This past year, I’ve documented my journey and continue to find ways to better serve my students by shifting the mindset.
Starr Sackstein currently works at World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing, N.Y., as a high-school English and journalism teacher. She is the author of Teaching Mythology Exposed: Helping Teachers Create Visionary Classroom Perspective and Blogging for Educators . She blogs for Education Week Teacher on “Work in Progress” in addition to her personal blog StarrSackstein.com where she discusses all aspects of being a teacher. Sackstein co-moderates #jerdchat and #sunchat and contributes to #NYedChat. In speaking engagements, Sackstein speaks about blogging, journalism education, throwing out grades and BYOD, helping people see technology doesn’t have to be feared. Follow her @MsSackstein on Twitter.