Teacher Spotlight: April Allen
April Allen Baker Middle School 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher
1. How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for 4 years now. I started off as a special education teacher, then moved into general education.
2. What inspired you to pursue a career in education?
Honestly, I fought the idea of being an educator when I was in graduate school and undergraduate school due to wanting to forge my own path and not follow in my dad’s footsteps. I ended up initially on a whole other career path as a Graduate Level Therapist, specifically working with therapeutic foster kids. I became burnt out and heard about the TAPP program. I was ready after several years of running and working myself ragged in another field, so I decided to head the call of becoming an educator.
3. What is your favorite thing about teaching or your biggest success story?
I LOVE teaching because I get to work with a diverse group of young adults and help empower them through learning! My classroom is very interactive, as well as we are a team/family in my classroom and believe in collaboration. Seeing students blossom and be able to recognize personal growth and set goals for themselves just makes my heart swell! I also love being able to provide a safe space for my students to land and feel comfortable to learn. A few success stories I have is my students were able to connect CNN10 content to the women’s rights issues in Iran with a Clickbooks we did. Another time they were able to say why North Korea's government was secretive because they were an Autocracy, all because of the Clickbooks and activities under the Southern and Eastern Asia segment in Gallopade!
4. What challenges do you face in the classroom?
I think my challenges are a current teacher universal. The lack of respect for the profession. We are overworked, with little pay, and consistently under attack for doing what we are trained to do: educate. This year was my first year in education where I have felt support from my administration and was given more time to plan/prep.
5. How do Gallopade products or Gallopade Curriculum help you in the classroom?
I teach an array of students, but the majority of my students have an IEP, are ESOL, or come from homes without many resources. Gallopade provides my students with material that is understandable, relatable, and actually fun to do! My ESOL students are able to have the material translated within Gallopade. There are read-aloud opportunities for my students who need that accommodation, and it checks students' understanding along the way. I am able to provide so many different types of resources through the curriculum provided. My counterparts get tired of me “preaching” about Gallopade and how wonderful it is!
6. What is something that every student should know about teachers?
I think students should know that teachers are just like them. We have gone through similar experiences, are here to be helpful, and support them to grow. We are not the “enemy”. I also want students to know teachers have a life outside of school, so when we don’t get immediate feedback to them, that is ok! Just like they need “downtime”, we do as well. We are only human.
7. What advice would you impart to a new teacher or someone who wants to become a teacher?
I am a very “to the point” individual. I would let new teachers know first that you need to find your correct “pocket”. This includes subject, grade level, and school location. Some teachers are not meant to teach at Title I schools, while others may not thrive in other school settings. My next bit of advice would be to build strong relationships with students and their parents. Make more positive phone calls; that way, when a negative one comes, the parent is on your side to help redirect and grow their learner! (Many thanks to my principal, Dr. Sheffield, for implementing this strategy schoolwide.) I would also want to impart to a new teacher to protect their personal time. Don’t let anyone impede that time; it will impact your overall wellness. Finally, HAVE FUN! Learning should be fun; it's ok to break out the costumes, it's ok to teach creatively, it's ok to have students up and about, it’s ok to play music, and it's ok to have a little bit of noise in the classroom as long as it is productive. Find ways to engage students through strategies you love! Be willing to be flexible, and just HAVE FUN!
8. What do you love to do when you're not teaching?
When I am not teaching, I love to spend time with my family, talking to friends, reading, listening to music, watching/making TikToks, watching a good movie/tv show, and cooking! I also love to travel when I get a chance, because what better way to teach about a particular place than provide a few artifacts and stories of the experience. My husband and I have set a goal of taking a big trip once a year to go explore this great big world with our son. I definitely take time to take care of “me”, so others get to have the best version of April Allen.
Do you know an educator who goes above and beyond the call of duty to inspire their students? Nominate them to be our next Teacher Spotlight!