When I first began this journey, my initial goals are much the same goals as I have now. Working in the virtual environment, it can be tough to "connect" with students and families who are struggling in various ways. On top of that, when students and families are in that kind of place where they may be close to giving up, it is extra challenging to get them to engage, attend classes, return phone calls, or make themselves available to receive the help that they need.
My personal area of strength in my field is my ability to relate to students. I feel that I have been where many of my students are emotionally and socially. I don't patronize them, but rather empathize as someone who gets it. My goals moving forward are simple: I never want to become disconnected from the students that I have chosen to serve. I never want to become ineffective, unapproachable, or too burned out to help the ones who need it the most. I strongly believe this comes from continuously connecting with students on their level, never looking down from the perch of an educator, but as an equal human being with all of the same emotions and struggles. The only difference being having the life experience of knowing how to deal with the issues that younger people face from a slightly older person's perspective.
One great compliment that I received from my current supervisor and mentor, Dr. Emi Koga, was this: What stands out to me the most in my work with Zack is his innate ability to connect and relate with families who are often times marginalized or labeled as “difficult”. He has a genuine concern and care for the students he works with, and it is felt through the computer, phone as the families put their full trust in Zack to guide them through on what he feels is best for the student."
Any new teacher, I feel, needs to be able to step into the shoes of the student. If you can't truly relate and empathize, I don't know that you can be as effective as you need to be with the students who need your support the most. I would encourage all prospective teachers to search themselves and be honest about their ability and desire to connect with kids who may need an extra push, or a lot of extra effort.