Can you tell us about yourself?
"My name is Michelle Ervin. I am a teacher. I teach ESL at Revere High School which is in Revere, MA. I have been at this school for almost 2 years but I have been teaching 21 maybe 22, I keep losing count, years total."
Why did you start a career in education?
"Why did I start a career in education? It was not exactly what I wanted to do. I originally wanted to get into international politics and work for the State Department. I had an opportunity to teach ESL to adults when I was in college, when I was a senior in college. I realized I loved it. I really really enjoy it. So, I went into the Peace Corp and I spent 3 years teaching in the Peace Corp and realized that's what I really enjoyed doing and something I was good at."
If you could have any other job what would it be and why?
"If I could have any other job, like any other job, I would be Secretary of State. That would be my dream job, that's actually what I wanted to do. I would love to be the Secretary of State or work for the State Department in some manor."
How are kids different now than 30 years ago?
"How are kids different now than 30 years ago, I definitively think social media has played a huge part into kids' lives. They can't just go home and forget about things. Everything that happens at school is in their house, it's in their lives forever. Sometimes literally forever because it's recorded and it's on social media and it's in the internet for like the rest of their lives. So, they can't ever escape any problem that happens at school. They can't escape problems; they can't stay away from people. It's completely bombarded. They are completely bombarded by social media and things that happens and they can't escape from it. I, also, think they're are a lot of societal issues: single family homes, homes where kids just don't have... the parents just don't have the opportunities to spend time with their kids because they have to work because it's so expensive. When I was a kid, a latch key kid, there were like a handful and we all knew who they were and they were the kids who didn't have parents at home. Well that is pretty much every kid now. There are very few kids that have parents at home waiting for them when they get home."
How is teaching different now than 30 years ago?
"How is teaching different now than 30 years ago? I was not teaching 30 years ago. Well close 22.. 21, 22 years ago. I can talk about how teaching was 15 years ago that's when I started teaching in the public schools. There was no social media. I think that's a huge thing. I think social media is huge. I love technology. I am a huge fan of technology. I think I was meant to be living in this era of technology but nobody is helping the kids navigate it. They are kind of navigating on their own and because they are kids they are not doing a very good job of it and the adults in their lives aren't doing a good job of helping them navigate that."
What would you tell someone who wants to become a teacher?
"What would I tell someone who is thinking about becoming a teacher? Unfortunately, I am not sure that I could. I could say that it's not a career that if I had a choice to do again, at this point in time and knowing what I know, unfortunately, I am not sure I could support someone's decisions to go into teaching. It's rewarding. It really is rewarding but there is so many issues and so many things going on with the teaching career that not exactly sure its something I would have pursued if it has been in this day and age. Although who knows? I am older. Maybe when I was younger, I'd feel differently. It's a tough job. It's super rewarding but it is definitely time consuming and tiring."
What is one thing you would change to help kids learn better?
"One think I would change to help kids learn better, I would definitely help them understand how to control and navigate technology. I think technology is super useful but kids just don't know how to use it. They don't know how to control themselves. They don't know how to self-control. They're so addicted to it, so are so many adults, but they are not able to focus all the time in school because whatever happened and it's on the social media or it's on the Snapchat, or whatever. They are constantly, when they have their phone on them, and it's buzzing in their pocket, so they need to know what happened. They think the world is going to end if they don't check their text message or check whatever it is that buzzed them. But adults are just as bad at it because it's a lot of the times it's the parents that are texting them during the school day and they are like "Oh, it's my mom that called." So I definitely think they need to understand how to self regulate when it comes to technology and learning how to not be as addicted to it. I think that would helpful to them."