When did you first realize you wanted to be a teacher?
I realized I wanted to be a teacher while sitting in my high school freshman biology class. My teacher, Mr. Rhodes, was a motivator as well as an educator. I also have several relatives who are teachers which helped reinforce my interest.
What keeps you in the classroom?
The learning! I do not believe that students should be the only ones expected to learn in my classroom. I enjoy learning myself so I try to learn and use new things in my classroom every year. I also believe my students have much to teach me, so learning is a reciprocal process in my classroom.
What character qualities make great teachers?
There are three character qualities that really stick out in my mind: great teachers are passionate, teachable, and visionary. Passionate teachers have strong beliefs beyond the idea that they “can” make a difference, but that they will make a difference. Teachers must also be teachable; having a willingness to continue to learn themselves keeps teachers relevant. Finally, great teachers must be visionaries looking beyond the daily challenges by forging creative new solutions.
What is your favorite part of the school year? Why? [You can’t say summer or recess]
My favorite part of the school year is the last 6 weeks of each semester. By this time in the semester students know the routine, they know I have their best interests in mind, and (most) students have figured out my sense of humor, so we have more lively class discussions!
What is the funniest thing a child has ever said to you?
I am a fan of manatees and I have a certificate of adoption for a manatee that I sponsor from the “Save the Manatee” club.
One of my students saw the certificate and said, “Ms. Allard! You adopted a manatee?!”
I said “Yes.”
And he said, “Where do you keep it?”
What is your favorite technology to use for engaging students in learning?
My favorite technology I use to engage students is the comparison microscope with a WiFi camera. My forensic students are amazed that they are using such an elaborate piece of equipment in class that “real scientists” use and they are able to capture the images on their cell phones from the WiFi camera and share the data instantly with each other.
Everyone likes to know the morning routine of successful people. What is yours?
I hit the snooze button 4 times before I get up. After I finally get up, I avoid turning on the lights as long as possible. When I let the dogs out I always stay in the open doorway so I can take in the sounds of the morning, be it birds, wind, or rain. I then pack my lunch in my middle school “Bionic Woman” metal lunchbox from 1978, pour my coffee, and head to work.
What do you tell students when they need encouragement?
Do not let anyone or anything define you. In the end a grade does not define you, but the effort that you put into whatever you are doing will.
What do you tell other teachers when they need encouragement?
Do your best. If you do all that you can possibly do to do something right, it will probably be right, and even if it is not right, it will probably be good enough because you did your best. There will always be a next time to try again.