“I realized there are good teachers – and I wanted to be one.”
Kris Bethscheider, West Early College
When Kris Bethscheider was just a wide-eyed 13-year-old student, she used to tell her teacher that she hitchhiked to school. Whether or not that was true, it justifiably alarmed the teacher. So she did what good teachers do: She offered her phone number to Kris and urged her to call when she was in need of a ride.
“This made me realize that teachers are people too,” Kris said. “I also realized there are good teachers and I wanted to be one.”
A teacher at West Early College (mostly sophomores and juniors this year), Kris has been striving (and succeeding) at becoming a good teacher for nearly 18 years (16 with DPS). In this pursuit, she works to overcome some of today’s most often-cited classroom concerns. Lack of resources, over testing and lack of time are among the top.
“I want more time to teach and get to know my students,” she said, remembering the teacher who long ago took the time to get to know her. “I really want our district to be ‘students first’ instead of trying to put numbers to humans.”
As the chair for DCTA’s new Innovation Committee, Kris works with colleagues to help DCTA teachers manage and excel while working under innovation plans.
“We want to take a look at how we can support innovation schools and teachers working under innovation plans,” said Kris, who added that the committee’s work is just getting started. “We want to give them support, make sure they know what their innovation plan says and identify how we can support innovation schools as a union.”
Kris offered a few ways to address what she sees as today’s biggest teaching challenges:
- Be more human. “Our human capital is measured by numeric means,” she said. “This creates an impossible expectation for us as teachers to create data to prove that we are teaching or that our little humans are learning.”
- Teach knowledge, not test answers: “We have too much testing,” Kris said. “We are always teaching to the test.”
- Work to decrease turn over: Teachers are always worrying about jobs, schools, kids and administrative turn over, according to Kris. This creates uncertainty among teachers and contributes to job angst and turn over.
“We also seem to be pushing out veteran teachers,” she said. “With the lack of knowledge this creates, teachers are so unaware of the nuances of education. Without quality teachers who have been in the profession for a while, there is a significant loss to the profession.”
What’s more, Kris understands the importance of planning – and sees this as an area of improvement that can greatly benefit the classroom environment overall. Kris said that spending more time on planning would go a great way toward enhancing academic outcomes.
“We always have too much to do and not enough time,” she said. “I can teach more effectively and faster with more planning. If we increase planning time and decrease testing, we will have more than enough time to teach our students.”
If you know of a DCTA teacher that should be featured here, please email their name and contact information to Amber Wilson – DCTA Secretary.