Interview with Christi Fultz, Indiana Third Grade Teacher
We recently had the opportunity to interview Indiana teacher Christi Fultz, an eight-year veteran of the third grade classroom. Christi earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and after teaching for several years, she returned to school to earn a master’s degree as well as an all grades reading specialist license. During our conversation, we discussed Christi’s motivation for becoming a teacher, her advice for teachers who are considering starting a professional blog, and how she incorporates technology into her classroom.
Was there a particular person or experience that inspired you to become a teacher?
This is going to sound so cliché, but I wanted to be a third-grade teacher because of my own third grade-teacher. Mrs. Martin was the best teacher I ever had. She took us on safaris around the playground, loved us to death, and pushed us to always get better. I earned my very first (and one of the only!) B’s in her class and will never forget it. I worked my tail off to get back up to an A because she knew I could do it and I didn’t want to let her down. She knew what teaching was really about and I wanted to be just like her.
What characteristics of third graders do you appreciate the most? What makes them unique from other age groups?
Third grade has always been my favorite. I love the ‘in the middle’ stage where the students have both primary and intermediate qualities. They’re old enough to have some independence, but young enough to still enjoy all of our seasonal projects and thematic units. It’s also a year where I get to see tremendous growth. They still like giving hugs too!
What techniques do you use to create a harmonious work and life balance?
I try to use my planning time wisely at school, even though there never seems to be enough of it. I’m super organized and I stay a week ahead in my lesson plans. This makes adjusting to unexpected events in my personal life easier if I need a last minute substitute. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to say no sometimes to being on that extra committee or volunteering to work another after-school event. We deserve to have a life outside of our classroom responsibilities, too. My husband is also very understanding of the demands of teaching and often chips in to cut out lamination or decorate bulletin boards over the summer. It takes a while, but you’ll find a balance.
How do you use technology as a tool for learning in your classroom?
I think the biggest new way I’m using technology happens outside the classroom. The teacher-blogging world has exploded and there are so many ideas out there for new teachers and experienced teachers alike. Our classrooms might be far away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t share ideas, network with each other, and provide stronger learning opportunities for our students because of it. The interactions I’ve had because of my blog are the best professional development I’ve experienced in my entire teaching career.
Inside the classroom, I use computers often. Research, centers, online games for content, even just word processing can be so much more motivating and engaging on a computer. We’re lucky enough to have two desktop computers and two netbooks to share in our classroom and eight iPads are on their way soon. I also can’t imagine going back to the days of teaching without a document camera and an overhead projector for it and the computer. It’s so much easier to show the details during whole class instruction when you can project the work.
Can you share any words of wisdom for teachers who are thinking about starting a blog? What essential components or features should be included on a blog?
Blogging can be intimidating at first. It takes a little while to gain followers and find your niche. I joke that I was talking to myself for the first month, but stick with it. Follow other bloggers around your grade level, comment on their blogs, join ‘linky parties’, and most importantly write strong content to share your wonderful ideas. Our little community is so supportive and you will wonder what you ever did before you started blogging. The most important thing, even if you’re writing anonymously, is to show yourself in your blog so we can connect with you. Don’t forget to add follower options so we can always find your new content too!
What advice can you share with someone who is considering becoming a teacher?
Don’t let anyone tell you it’s an easy job because I can promise you, it isn’t. I’ve yet to have one of those magnificent ‘summers off’ I keep hearing about. And honestly, the pay isn’t great but the rewards of teaching more than make up for it. I’d also recommend getting into the classroom early and often. It’s very different being the teacher than it was being a student. Your heart has to be in teaching. Above all, you have to just love kids… even the challenging ones, because they often need it the most.
We sincerely thank Christi for sharing her candid insight about what it’s like to be a teacher, and we wish her well as she incorporates new technological gadgets into her classroom this year. Be sure to check out Christi’s blog, Ms. Fultz’s Corner, for lesson-plan freebies and more teaching inspiration.
Read about how to become a teacher in Indiana.