Two years into teaching and Sheridan feels like she started yesterday.
Originally from Kentucky, she moved to Franklin, Tenn. as a young child. After graduating from Centennial in 2009, Sheridan took on the University of Memphis until she graduated from there in 2013 with a degree in education.
The 25-year-old is now teaching at the elementary school she once attended as a child.
“I guess things come full circle,” she said. “Some of my teachers who actually taught me are still here so it’s cool being in the same environment as them and having that trust. A lot of them act like mentors to me because I’ve known them for so long.”
This fall marks Sheridan’s third year of teaching third grade at Moore Elementary in Franklin.
“It’s never the same thing every day and I definitely never get bored,” she said. “At this school we’re departmentalized so I teach math and science and my partner teacher teaches reading and social studies.”
She said she’s always known she’s wanted to work with children, she just wasn’t sure how or in what way.
Sheridan’s sister teaches at Popular Grove School in Franklin. She had the opportunity to watch her sister go through the process of becoming a teacher, but she wasn’t sure if she had what it took.
The summer before she went to college, Sheridan took a job at a day-care. After spending some time there she began to really enjoy being in the classroom setting, and that’s when she knew she wanted to become a teacher.
the GOOD and the DIFFICULT
“Math has always been my favorite subject, and it’s always been my niche and always come pretty easy to me, but I know a lot of people hate math and it doesn’t come as easy for them,” she said.
Sheridan said seeing growth and confidence being built into the children is one of the best parts of her job. At the beginning of each school year, she tells her students that even though they may or may not like math, she wants them to be comfortable doing it.
“Some of them go from not liking math to starting to like it, and I love seeing that,” she said.
She said the students are a lot of fun as well.
“They treat everyone with so much respect. That’s something that’s refreshing. I feel like adults can learn a lot from children because they have a better understanding of what it means to be respectful and tolerant of others.”
Sheridan said one of the most difficult parts of her job is feeling like she has failed as a teacher.
“Something that works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another child, so I guess trying to figure out what works and also keeping that confidence in myself because I’m doing the best that I can,” she said. “It’s my job and my responsibility to make sure they are suppose to learn the material.”
When she’s not in the classroom or grading assignments, Sheridan loves to run, spend time with her boyfriend and go four wheeling. She also just started a masters program in educational leadership online at Arkansas State.
“It’s a different aspect of what I learned in undergrad, and I am excited about that because it was something new,” she said. “In undergrad, you’re drilled on the same things over and over again so it’s another side of education. I thought it would be interesting, and so far it has been.”
Sheridan is pursuing her masters as a way for her to possibly advance in the future.
“Right now, I’m happy with what I’m doing, and I hope to do this for many years to come but with an educational leadership license, it opens up other doors and opportunities that I could do in the future,” she said.
She said one of her dreams is to write a book, but she’s still taking ideas on that.
ACCEPTANCE and COMMUNITY
“I define community as what’s going on around you, what’s taking place, and who you, as well as what, you choose to surround yourself with,” Sheridan said.
She said community has played a huge role in who she is and what she does.
“I try to surround myself with very positive people and by doing so I’ve found out that when you’re going through a hard time it takes the load off of you.”
She said if you surround yourself with negative people, it could be difficult to rise above it and be the better person. She said having that mindset has been vital in how she’s evolved and matured.
“Growing up, whenever I was upset about something my mom would always say, ‘Ask yourself if this is going to matter in three years from now.’ I still use that a lot now, and usually the answer is no, it’s not going to matter. It’s crazy how priorities change and you figure out what’s important.”
Sheridan said what matters to her now is God, her family and friends and her job as a teacher and keeping a positive outlook on life, but what concerns in the future is the acceptance of others.
“Dealing with what’s going on not only in my immediate community but in the world, I think some people have a hard time accepting others if they have different beliefs or if they are different from you,” she said.
Sheridan said children, unless they have been taught to believe a certain thing or a certain way, are a blank slate. She said what adults see in others as being different as being a bad thing. Most of the time, children say something that is different is cool.
“That’s why I love teaching because the children haven’t developed those negative concepts and those thoughts about others that are so negative. They tend to keep a positive attitude and they’re very accepting of their classmates,” she said.
Sheridan loves teaching in a diverse school and she said she’s always wanted to because it’s a real world situation.
Sheridan said more and more techniques are being introduced into the classroom and she doesn’t see it as a bad thing.
“I think of it as more ways we can positively affect the lives of the students,” she said. “The research that’s being done is different, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing.”
Sheridan said education in her community is going in the right direction, but she expressed that she strongly dislikes the fact that so much pressure is being put on students’ test scores.
“When these children enter my classroom, they are eight years old. I feel like sometimes we put them in a box. If they score horribly on this test, does it matter that they did great in my classroom all year? Does it matter that they have a huge imagination, and they are so creative? I hate the fact that those types of things aren’t taken into account when they take these standardize test.”
Sheridan said enough though creativity and imaginations aren’t taken into account in standardize testing; she tries to do so in her classroom everyday. She does activities and games where she gives her students different scenarios and has them come up with the solutions because those are the types of activities that relate more to what they’ll encounter once they’re out of school.
“I try to incorporate real world experiences in their everyday learning in my class,” she said.
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