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Featuring Allison (Diller) Lienert '09

Position: Special Education Teacher

School: Harpeth Valley Elementary School; Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools

Location: Nashville, TN

Graduate School: Vanderbilt University

Graduate Program: Special Education- High Incidence Disabilities (Mild to Moderate)

Information about Allison's graduate school experience

(Profiled: 2011)

 

  How did you connect with this job opportunity?

♦  What attracted you to this position?

♦  What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?

♦  What has been/was your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?

♦  How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?

♦  What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for his or her future classroom?

♦  What job search tips would you give to GCC students?

 

How did you connect with this job opportunity?

I was hired for the 2010-2011 school year to co-teach 4th grade in a “model classroom.” I accepted this job, although it was not exactly what I wanted, because I knew the school was highly rated, and has strong support from the community. Throughout the school year, I had several conversations with the instructional coach and the principal about my interest in a special education position if there was an opening. At the end of the school year, the lead special education teacher announced her retirement, and the principal designated me to take her place!

 

What attracted you to this position?

I have a strong passion for students with special needs. I wanted to be a special education teacher in a resource room because I would have the chance to have my own classroom and a group of students that I would get to work closely with on a regular basis. I felt like I could make a bigger difference by working closely with a small group of students.

 

What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?

As many teachers do, I live for the “lightbulb” moments. That moment when a child finally understands, shows mastery of a skill, or meets an IEP goal is by far the most gratifying aspect of being a special education teacher. When the child’s eyes light up, and he gets a big smile on his face because he is so proud of himself, it makes me forget about how tired I am, how much work I have to do, and all the stresses of the day. In that “lightbulb” moment, I know I am doing what the Lord called me to do. Another gratifying aspect of being a special education teacher is having the opportunity to show children that they can be successful. I find it is such a blessing to get to work with children that have otherwise not experienced much success in their first few years of school. I get to be the teacher that shows my students that they can achieve, and I get to celebrate with them when they do. I love being a cheerleader and believing in them until they learn to believe in themselves. Finally, I have the opportunity to make learning really fun for my students. Research shows that children with disabilities learn best when they can experience the curriculum through hands-on learning. I strive to make my classroom a fun place where the children enjoy coming. My students ask me, “Do we get to come to your room today?” and they can’t wait to see what they are going to be doing. I also have other students ask me, “Are we ever going to get to come to your room?” It makes me so happy to hear that the students look forward to being in my classroom.

 

What has been/was your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?

Being a first-year teacher is a challenge. Nothing can prepare you for it. Student-teaching doesn’t bring you close to experiencing what teaching is really like. My biggest challenge was learning the ways of the school and the district. Every school runs differently, and every administration has a unique set of expectations for their teachers. I often felt like I was expected to know things without being told. I asked a lot of questions, and sought the advice of a teacher that I respected and knew I could trust.

 

How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?

Grove City gave me a solid foundation in the science and the art of teaching. I had a series of talented professors who taught me how to plan and implement effective lessons in the classroom. I still refer back to my portfolios from Grove City to get ideas for lessons. They also prepared me to view my students as whole children, educating them in academics, morals and life.  

 

What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for his or her future classroom?

Stick to what you know is best practice, and what you believe is right for your students. Depending on where you teach, you will feel a lot of pressure from your district, and maybe your principal to increase test scores. It is important to remember that you have good training, and Grove City has equipped you with the skills to be an effective teacher. However, you must remember (for your sanity and your peace of mind) that the most important things they learn from you cannot be measured by a test score.

 

What job search tips would you give to GCC students?

When looking for a teaching position, especially in this economy, I think it is important to keep your mind open to all the options available to you. Apply for every open position, even if it doesn’t fit your criteria for an ideal job. Experience is so important, and you cannot get experience without having a job. Be flexible and get your foot in the door. A great position may open for

you in a year or two!

 

More information about Allison's graduate school experience

 

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Maintained By: Deb Snyder | Last Updated: August 2014