Teacher Spotlight: A Talk with Susan German

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Teacher Spotlight: A Talk with Susan German Teacher Spotlight: A Talk with Susan German

Teacher Spotlight: A Talk with Susan German

by Britni Danielle

October 10, 2011

GOOD: What types of technology do you use in your classroom?

German: I’m an eMINTS (Enhancing Missouri's Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies) teacher, which allows me to have a SMART Board, a data projector, a computer plus a laptop, and I have 12 other computers. I run a two-to-one student-to-computer ratio in my classroom. I also have computer-based probes and various other little gadgets that students can use.

GOOD: How do you manage to teach outside-of-the-box and be creative, while also readying  students for student tests?

German: The tests and the standards are very important, but the thing that I think that has gotten lost is that the standards don’t tell you how to teach. You can still be creative in your classroom as long as you just make certain what you’re doing is highly focused on the standards. It has a purpose and you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck, because class time is very precious.

GOOD: What's the the biggest misconception about teachers?

German: Several. One is that we only work only from nine to three. My workdays are usually 12 to 15 hours. The time that I spend working on getting materials together, designing materials, and making sure my students have something that is relevant to them takes a great deal of time.

Another misconception is that it’s an easy job. We get a lot of second career changers coming through and one of the first things they always say is, 'Wow, I didn’t realize how hard this is.' So, it’s a great job and it’s a rewarding job, but you got to know what you’re getting into when you decide to do it.

GOOD: You’ve had a lot of achievements over the past 19 years. What has been your biggest challenge and biggest success?

German: My largest challenge as a teacher has been trying to figure out how to balance family with my profession. I have two children and they’re both in high school now, but it hasn’t always been easy figuring out the timing thing. Just like any other woman, you want to do well at your profession, but you always want to do well as a mother.

My biggest success as a teacher would be the 2,000 students that have been through my classroom and I haven’t heard a complaint yet about the job done. I get lots and lots and lots of compliments. It’s a really rewarding career and I’m glad I’ve done it.

GOOD: You’ve been so successful over the years, what advice can you give new teachers?

German: The advice I would give is to make certain that the students understand that you are the leader of your classroom. If you say something, you mean it, and that you need to learn to laugh with your kids. If you don’t laugh with your kids you’ll never it make it as long as I have.

Also, when you have the attitude of we’re all in this together and that you don’t expect more out of the students than you expect from yourself, you’d be amazed at what happens. Even the so-called toughest kids will do whatever you ask.

Read more from the GOOD Guide to Great Teaching here.

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