Can you tell us about yourself?
"Hello. My name is Tiffany Ledford. I am a first grade teacher at Leroy Massey Elementary School. I've been teaching at LMEs for five years, all of which have been in first grade."
Why did you start a career in education?
"I started a career in education because I love to learn. I also want to help shape kids' lives like some teachers did for me."
If you could have any other job what would it be and why?
"If I could have any other job in the world, it would probably be a Marine biologist. I just love oceans and Marine animals and I just think it would be really cool to be able to get out there in the ocean and study about the, the Marine life."
How are kids different now than 30 years ago?
"I think kids are different now and that a lot of kids grow up and titled they come to school and expect to be given answers and don't think that they have to adhere to the rules and the policies that we have. Fortunately, first graders aren't usually too entitled and a lot of times if they are, we can kind of teach them that there's a better way to act. Um, but besides that, I don't think kids are really changed too much. Um, it's the parenting, I believe that has changed a lot."
How is teaching different now than 30 years ago?
"I obviously didn't teach 30 years ago, so I don't really know for sure how teaching has changed from 30 years ago to now. But I have spoken to teachers that did teach during that time and they said that teaching used to be really fun. They used to plan lessons and they used to put it all around a central theme and they were able to teach the kids but the kids kind of didn't know that they were learning. It was fun, it was like a game. And now kids have a lot of expectations in the amount that they have to learn. Our first graders are learning stuff that even I, myself, who am 30 years old didn't have to learn until I was in second grade. So the expectation on what they need to know is a lot higher now and that unfortunately that means a lot of times we have to skip the cutesy fun stuff and kind of dig into the uh, subjects."
What would you tell someone who wants to become a teacher?
"If I were going to tell prospective teachers about teaching, I would just tell them to go ahead and do it. My job, although it's very stressful and very time consuming, it is very rewarding. Every year I get to teach a different set of kids. I get to help them learn and grow. I get to watch them with their big accomplishments and I get to cheer them on and I get to teach them right from wrong. Which I know a lot of people say it's the parent's job, but I mean I'm with them for eight hours a day. So I kind of feel like I have a kind of say in that too, a voice in that. Um, I get to go to bed every night knowing that I make a difference. Um, I would just caution upcoming teachers that the job is not easy regardless of what anybody says. I would talk to them that the expectation is really high and that sometimes it's, I mean it's hard and sometimes to rise to the expectation, but that's okay. We do the best we can do and that's okay. It is also very time consuming. A lot of times I carry my work home with me and have to work on it at home when I'm supposed to be spending time with my family. And it doesn't happen all the time, but probably like two or three times a month. But that's okay because to me it's worth it. The reward is so much worth more than the, um, the setback or the, um, challenges."
What is one thing you would change to help kids learn better?
"Um, the thing that I would do to help kids learn better is I would pay the teachers more. Now, I don't want to be one of those that says, Oh, I don't get paid a lot because, I mean, I do get paid decently for around here, but I have a master's degree and I make what somebody with a bachelor's degree and another career would make. I think paying teachers more would allow the field to retain more quality teachers. And I think the better a teacher is at his or her job, then the more the students can learn. Thank you so much."