Can you tell us about yourself?
"Hi, I'm Ashley or Ms. L as my students call me. I teach at Liberty Middle School in Spanaway, WA. I teach Special Education Resource at middle school level. I teach mostly co-taughts but I also teach Social Emotional classes and reading invention. I've been here for 2 years. I used to teach out at a North Carolina high school."
Why did you start a career in education?
"I started my career in education because my teacher said my life basically in high school and I wanted to pass that hope onto another generation of students who I can tell them that you can survive so many things. It does get better and you can get out of that pit of poverty by working hard."
If you could have any other job what would it be and why?
"If I could have another job, any other job, it would be a school psychologist or a forensic psychologist just because I have seen a huge need for that especially teaching in special education. I have seen such a huge need for school psychologist and what a big impact they can have in students being able to succeed in school and we have a really high shortage of them right now."
How are kids different now than 30 years ago?
"Kids are different now than 30 years ago and they have a much less stable family environment. 30 years ago, there was a much higher rate of a standard, pretty formal, reliable, nuclear family and dinner at home was a thing. Parents were able to keep a much better tabs on their students and that has made a significant difference in the levels of trauma that our students are dealing with now and the follow-up at home and sense of responsibility that students now don't really know what to do with."
How is teaching different now than 30 years ago?
"Teaching is different now than 30 years ago, in that, we are everything for a lot of these kids. I am the only stable adult in many of my students lives and so I am answering all kinds of questions that you wouldn't really expect to be dealing with as a teacher. There is a lot of social emotional learning that they aren't getting at home and I have to ingrate that into my classroom to help them deal with the traumas that they are dealing with from their home lives which you wouldn't have had 30 years ago."
What would you tell someone who wants to become a teacher?
"What would I tell someone right now who is thinking about becoming a teacher? I would tell them that get a background in psychology because it has been such an enormous help and I hear the same thing from my teacher friends. To have that background in psychology, to help understand how the mind works because our students today are not the same as the pedagogy that you've been taught."
What is one thing you would change to help kids learn better?
"One thing that I would change to help kids learn better, I would bring back books. I would bring back physical books instead of digital textbooks because that physical book gives them information that feels more cement whereas they are Googling everything. My school has 1:1 IPads and so the students are so distracted by having YouTube and Soundcloud and music access all the time instead of every letting their minds quite and just read or just study from a book. Everything feel impermanent to them is what they have expressed to me."