Can you tell us about yourself?
This is Dana Hedgepath. I'm a teacher at Alexander Graham Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina. I teach seventh-grade social studies. And I've been here. I've been teaching since, um, like 99, the fall of 99, so 21 years. And I've been here for 13 years. I was here for five and I left for five and a different middle school and actually went to China for a few years to teach. And then I've been back for the past, I think, eight years.
Why did you start a career in education?
Oh, why did I start a career in education? I think that I just always knew that I was going to be a teacher. I, you know, as a kid, we all have lots of things that we want to do when we grow up or be when we grew up, but teaching was one of them, so it was one of mine.
If you could have any other job what would it be and why?
So, Oh, one thing I always did was I saved magazines that came to my house. This one's from 19, the fall of 1989. I have one on one Christa McAuliffe, um, on the anniversary of that crash. So that's kind of fun. I just have a couple of those really old magazines just because when I was a kid, I thought, Hey, maybe I'll be a teacher and maybe this will be important. Um, I still love collecting magazines by the way. If I could have any other job, other jobs in the world, what would it be? Two things actually, I would love to be maybe an author. I'm not because I always thought I'd be an author, but because other people have thought I would be good at that. So I had a, um, an English professor in college who talked to me about eight being an English major, which I didn't change at the time. And then I've had friends since then saying, you'd write really good children's books. And so I have over time, I've just thought, huh? Maybe I would like to do that. The other thing I would like to do is, um, be a guidance counselor. I think because more and more as I teach, I just realized I want to be involved in the kids' lives and let them know that I am here for them.
How are kids different now than 30 years ago?
You know what I think that, um, kids these days today are under a lot more pressure to be specialized at. There are different things in life, right? So like, um, 30 years ago, um, the best athlete was an all around athlete, right? You played three sports or you were the most athletic because you did all of these sports, but now, um, students have to choose a sport and they played basketball all year or they play soccer all year long or they, you know, play whatever their sport is all year long, or they play that violin and they go to practice where they are in gymnastics three to four times a week, or the same with dance. Um, I feel like kids are just having to be put under such pressure to not only be good and even great at something, but to be like super great and super the best.And unfortunately, that's the competition we're in right now. I have a friend who tried to get her middle school son in a rec kind of baseball league just to get him exposed. And their rec league manager told them, you should just go ahead and get him a job because he should have been playing when he was nine or seven. He's in middle school. And the rec baseball manager said, you should just go ahead and get them a part-time job. I can't even believe it. Um, how is teaching different now than 30 years ago? I mean, the obvious one is all the technology, right? I mean, I started teaching over just at Ron 20 years ago and I used a chalkboard with white or yellow shock, and I had the Chuck dust on my black sleeves and now I'm using zoom. I mean, come on. And unfortunately, that's the competition we're in right now. I have a friend who tried to get her middle school son in a rec kind of baseball league just to get him exposed. And their rec league manager told them, you should just go ahead and get him a job because he should have been playing when he was nine or seven. He's in middle school. And the rec baseball manager said, you should just go ahead and get them a part-time job. I can't even believe it.
How is Teaching different now than it was 30 years ago?
How is teaching different now than 30 years ago? I mean, the obvious one is all the technology, right? I mean, I started teaching over just at Ron 20 years ago and I used a chalkboard with white or yellow shock, and I had the Chuck dust on my black sleeves and now I'm using zoom. I mean, come on. And remote learning and canvas and all of those things. So that definitely makes it different. I also feel like teachers are, teachers are expected to be a lot to carry a lot of different roles for kids like guidance counselors or, I mean, goodness gracious. There are so many things that I didn't want to say out loud right now, but teachers are expected to wear a lot of different hats for kids. And I do feel like that's a little bit different than how things were 20 to 30 years ago when teachers were just required to go in and teach and have the kids take notes and take their test and do well at school.
What would you tell someone who wants to become a teacher?
How would you, how would you tell someone right now that is thinking, what would you tell some right now that is thinking about becoming a teacher? I would tell them to do it. Um, you know, people who whisper, you should be a teacher. You should be a teacher that everybody has that whisper. So I would tell him to follow that whisper. Um, but you know what else I thought about as I looked at the questions is that when I was like, you know, young, so college, 20 plus years ago, people would say that those who can do, and those who can't teach, I'm going to cry. I think that it's the opposite. I think that those who can teach and those who can't teach, do other things, goodness gracious. So sorry. I've seen a lot of teachers come and go, who can't take it, you're Betsy because it's middle school. Um, but they do other things. So if you think that you want to be a teacher, then do it because there's always something else you can do if it's not for you.
What would you change to help kids learn better?
And then question number seven, use me. What is one thing you would like you would change to help kids learn better? Oh my goodness. I gave everybody access to technology and the internet and, um, I don't know, small working pods. They could work collaboratively with small groups and I would give everybody like an adult with a group of students only six or seven bigs. They can always have access to that adult if they need help. Anyway, those are some of the things that I would do. Thank you so much. I'm excited for headphones. I have kids who, um, really need headphones now that we're back in school in Charlotte and doing remote and, um, remote learning and, and in class learning simultaneously. Um, I just don't like kids to feel badly because they, um, don't have headphones. I want to be able to slip them headphones just because I can. And the reason why I found out about you guys is because a couple of years ago, I had a mom who gave me some of your headphones and I've been able to continue to use my 50 and I'm down to the end of my back. So I just looked at, I just looked at the website and that's where I found you. So thank you so much for what you do for education, um, and what you're doing for all of us teachers to make our lives easier. Goodness gracious. I need to go home. It's been a long day. I'm just kidding. It's been a wonderful day. Thank you. Bye-bye.