This is part two of an interview with Alina Fortenberry discussing motivating students, classroom technology, the evolution of education, and the characteristics of a successful educator. Alina Fortenberry is a Michigan-based educational consultant with a strong professional background in team building, coaching, school administration, curriculum development, and the cultivation of effective learning communities. As a result of her contributions to Michigan’s institutions, Fortenberry is recognized within her field as an accomplished educational leader.

For Thrive Global readers interested in viewing part one of the interview, please click here:

What advice would you give anyone interested in becoming an educator?

Teaching is one of the most rewarding careers and provides you with the opportunity to make a positive and significant impact on student’s lives. Yet, teaching can also be very challenging. If one is interested in becoming a teacher, seek opportunities to observe instruction and classroom management within classrooms of teachers who have a proven record of teaching and learning success. Make sure teaching is a passion and commitment that you are ready to take on.

What advice would you give to someone who has just landed a job as a teacher?

Having your own classroom to teach is extremely rewarding and gives one a sense of pride that he/she will have the opportunity to tailor their classroom environment based on their educational beliefs and values. Once you land your teaching job, you may begin to feel quite overwhelmed thinking about all that needs to be done. Take the process one day at a time, and prioritize your tasks daily by deciding on what’s best for classroom management and instruction for those first days of school. Make sure to read Harry Wong’s book, ‘The First Days of School’, which discusses strategies that should be used to be an effective teacher. It is important that you remember that the education you received to become a teacher, will not fully prepare you for your first year of teaching. Developing a classroom that is conducive to learning, is a process and takes time. However, it’s important to get a good start.

Collaborate with other educators within the school. Don’t be afraid to ask your principal questions. Connect with common grade level teachers within and outside school for support on classroom management and procedures and instructional strategies. Subscribe to several educational magazines to keep abreast on current educational initiatives and trends.

What place does technology have in the classroom?

The role of technology in the classroom is continually evolving. Technology within the classroom allows students to gain more information than in the past. The use of technology within the classroom by far, helps engage, enrich and support deeper learning for students. Additionally, the use of various technology tools within the classroom helps engage and enrich teachers in the instructional process.

The use of technology by teachers can be used to teach students, reinforce student’s skills, promote higher order thinking skills and overall enhance the curriculum. Additionally, teachers use technology for word processing, spreadsheets, graphing, presentations, internet use, and managing student records.

Overall, in today’s society, the role of technology in education is critical and necessary within the curriculum to enhance teacher instruction and student learning for school improvement and increased academic achievement

How has education evolved since starting your career?

Education Reform is a constant process within the educational realm. I would say that education has evolved into using more research based and evidence-based instruction since I began my career. More qualitative research has been conducted to determine best instructional programs and processes and to determine best instructional teaching practices and strategies that yields maximum learning outcomes for students. For example, the use of thinking maps to aid students in organizing information for the purpose of reading comprehension and writing is an evidence-based program proven to enhance student’s learning.

What characteristics make a successful educator?

First and Foremost, a successful educator has a Passion and Commitment for teaching. As John Maxwell says, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” A successful educator builds relationships of mutual respect with and amongst students showing their passion and commitment to student learning, by being a trustworthy supporter, motivator, and engaging students in the learning process. A successful educator has the ability to promote a Learner- Centered classroom, while engaging student’s parents and the community in the learning process. Successful educators assist students in becoming lifelong learners as well as learning independently. Holding high expectations for student’s learning is another characteristic of a successful educator as they provide guidance and support to help students live up to the expectations. Supports can include continually assessing students and using differentiated engaging instruction based on student assessment results while continuously monitoring student’s learning.

What are you most looking forward to after COVID?

Educatorsunderstand the strong possibility that many children may have gaps in their learning caused by lack of face-to-face classroom instruction. Not only will students need to catch-up from skills they did not learn within their past grade due to COVID, they will also need to continue with annual growth in their upcoming grade level.

My role as an educator is to continuously utilize my educational experiences and skills to work with other educators to assess and determine where the learning gaps are and provide engaging and evidence-based teaching strategies to help close learning gaps. I am looking forward to working within a K-12 educational setting to assist in this process!