Sheila Bates is a fifth grade ELA teacher at Bryan Elementary School in Plant City.
I absolutely love what I do. This is my sixteenth year of teaching and all of that experience has been at high needs schools.
I’m needed, and I love feeling like I’m making a change in some way.
The reason that I became a teacher was not because I “loved kids.” I was a biology major. I became a teacher because I became a mom. That was my driving force – wherever she goes I’m going – and as I began to teach, I fell in love with the profession.
These are my school babies. They know that they mean something to me and that I care about them. That relationship, establishing that I do care about them, is one way I connect with them. I pull from that connection with my own kids, and I strive to make them all feel important. We’re all valued, and it’s a mutual respect.
You have to love the job and know what you’re getting into. This isn’t an easy paycheck. You have to know the students and their needs. You have to plan in order to meet those needs, and the needs of these kids can be challenging sometimes.
They don’t come in with the background knowledge or the vocabulary that you may have at a non-Achievement School. That’s what I love, because I can relate. I grew up in a single-parent home, in poverty, and my reward with my students is seeing their growth and change in attitudes.
Where they may have had low expectations of themselves or feel that people had low expectations of them, when they come in here, I have very high expectations. I tell them all the time: I’m not going to lower my expectations, and I expect you to reach them. So, to see them with the attitude of “I can do it!” and witnessing that change, I love that.
Some of my former students came to visit me with their siblings and parents, and one mom hugged me and said that her son’s doing great and is on the principal’s honor roll. Getting messages back from my former students in middle school that I made a difference – I’m very proud of that.
This is Why #WeAchieveTogether.
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