I Am a Teacher and A Student


Guest post written by Casey Mitchell, 2nd year tutor at James K Polk Elementary School

The moment when I knew I wanted to teach elementary school happened at 7:45am on a Monday. Very few revolutionary things happen for me at that time. I am an 11am superstar in comparison. But really, that’s the point I’m trying to make. I was calmly happy to start my day of tutoring students. Content and full of purpose, I realized this is what I should be doing – teaching. Now, a year later, I have joined the Metro DC Reading Corps for a second year at my service site as a K-3 tutor, serving but also learning. Unsurprisingly, tutoring has made me a better student. Every time I sit down with a student to read, I explain, I model and I guide their practice. While I develop as a teacher, I also need models to look to and learn from. Luckily, I have my own teacher whom I have come to value greatly as an explainer, a model and a guide. Kathy Harrington is my Reading Corps Internal Coach at my service site, James K. Polk Elementary School. She is an Instructional Coach/Reading Specialist with Alexandria City Public Schools.  In the 15 months we’ve worked together, she has been a model for me of how to interact with parents and support co-workers. She has answered over 150 of my questions about possible career paths in teaching and she even gave me homework about understanding reading fluency when I was having trouble putting all the pieces together. Not to mention the numerous occasions when she has helped me understand the behaviors of my students so I can help them become even better readers. In short, Kathy is a great supporter of teachers as they are also students. She is also a generous and funny person, and someone I look forward to seeing daily.

My next steps will be pursuing an M.Ed and Elementary Education teaching certification. I am very excited about this journey largely thanks to Kathy. Being a teacher is a difficult career and a big risk to take because of the impact I will have on the lives of my students.  Having the support of someone who knows my work well and is a specialist in the field is a gift. Her confidence in me inspires even more confidence in myself. Kathy encourages my questions about what it means to teach well. She shows me what kind of teacher I am aspiring to be and that teacher is pretty great.