Kathy Lassalle: How to Create a Teaching Career That You Love
Zach Long interviews Kathy Lassalle on episode 5 of the More Than Teachers Movement podcast. Through their conversation, we hear about the importance of life-long learning, growing over time in your teaching career, and building meaningful relationships with your co-workers. Focusing on these three areas will help teachers to create a career that they love.
Who Is Kathy Lassalle?
Ever since Kathy Lassalle was a little girl growing up in Puerto Rico, she has wanted to be a teacher. She was that child who made the others play school and even taught her younger sister how to read and write. After completing pre-med and pre-law undergrad programs, Kathy discovered special education. New York City was offering an incentive program to pay for a master’s degree in special education while you taught in an NYC classroom. Kathy jumped at the opportunity to teach special education students and use her classroom as a laboratory. She’s been teaching for over 22 years and considers it the best decision she ever made.
The Importance of Life-Long Learning
Education is obviously extremely important to Kathy Lassalle– not just for others but for herself as well. Pre-med and pre-law are rigorous courses of study for an undergrad student, and Kathy pursued them both. She followed that achievement up by earning a master’s degree while she was teaching in a special education classroom. Kathy’s desire to learn continues today as she is finishing up her doctoral thesis. This pursuit of lifelong learning has led to Kathy’s growth as a person and as a teacher. It’s helped her to be the best teacher she can be and create a career that she loves.
Growing Over Time In Your Teaching Career
Another way that Kathy has cultivated a career that she loves is by being willing to evolve. She understands that, as times change, so must our techniques and strategies. The students we teach today are different from students twenty years ago. With the accessibility of the internet and social media, student mindsets and attention spans have changed. Unfortunately, the education system hasn’t caught up with these changes, and teachers often have to take it upon themselves to figure out ways to reach their students. Kathy recognizes that educators need to be innovative and that maintaining the status quo will only lead to frustration and burnout.
Co-Worker Relationships Are Key
Kathy has learned over and over how powerful relationships with your co-workers can be. Through working on her doctoral thesis and interacting with teachers as a part of that process, Kathy has found that teachers who are isolated feel overwhelmed and discouraged. At the same time, she saw that teachers who build connections with their peers and administrators have a more positive perspective and are able to more constructively face challenges.
When Kathy ran an educational center in Puerto Rico, she also saw the power of co-worker relationships. She worked really hard to get to know the teachers through dinners, drinks, and conversations. So, when Kathy had a health crisis and had to leave for an extended amount of time, those teachers were there to pick up the slack. They were happy to help out because of the positive relationships that had been built.
When Kathy moved to Florida and found herself in a new school, she again leaned on the power of relationships. She bonded with her new co-workers through birthday celebrations and coffee which led to sharing, collaboration, and growth. Kathy has seen firsthand that building meaningful relationships with your co-workers is a big part of of creating a teaching career that you love.
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