Rachel Roberts has devoted 25 years of her life and career to teaching for the right reasons. That’s important. There are many reasons someone can teach, but teaching because you truly care about the kids and helping them overcome obstacles and have those special moments where everything clicks? That’s certainly one of the right reasons that so many teachers are driven by, and Rachel Roberts embodies that.
Treye Hanner: Tell us a little about you and how you decided to become a teacher?
Rachel Roberts: I have been married for almost 16 years to my husband, Corey Roberts. We have two children, Cameron who is in the 7th grade at Bragg Middle School and Kinley who is in the 6th grade at Bragg Middle School. I have always loved helping children learn and grow.
Growing up I always wanted to open up my own daycare. However, after enrolling in college at UAB I quickly decided that I wanted to go into elementary education. I have taught first, second, third, and fourth grades.
I am now in my 25th year of teaching, currently teaching third grade math, science, and social studies at Gardendale Elementary School.
Treye Hanner: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
Rachel Roberts: There are so many things that could be my favorite part of teaching. However, my absolute favorite is when you see the excitement and joy in the students eyes when they have accomplished their goals in the classroom. The ah-ha moments are the best!!!
Treye Hanner: Are there special moments where you say to yourself, “this is why I teach?”
Rachel Roberts: There are so many special moments when I tell myself “and this is why I do it” – when students come and give you that hug and say “you are my favorite”, when students come to you and say “thank you for being my teacher”, when students come to you and say “you helped me understand”, and when students you have previously taught come back and say “thank you”.
All of these make you realize that you are in it for the right reasons.
Treye Hanner: What challenges have you experienced while having to teach through the pandemic?
Rachel Roberts: The most challenging thing I have experienced while teaching through the pandemic is not being able to be with my students and guiding them through their challenges. Teaching over a screen is not the same as being in person. You cannot possibly give the students what they need over a zoom meeting.
Students need face to face instruction, they need to be with their peers, they need paper and pencil, they need one on one instruction, they need a routine, and they need to be in the classroom with the teacher’s guidance and instruction. Being away from the classroom we have noticed a dramatic increase in students being behind and not on grade level.
Teachers are expected to continue on with the pacing guides, however, students are not ready to move on.
Treye Hanner: What’s the one thing you would like people to know about teachers?
Rachel Roberts: A teacher’s job never ends. Just because our hours may say 7:45 – 3:05, our role goes far beyond these hours.