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Why I Still Love Teaching: an Interview with a Talented Social Studies Teacher

Social Studies teacher Nicole Pocklington shares why she still loves teaching, about her passion for improvement, and why students believe “Mrs. Pock Rocks!”

“I love interacting with my students, with how much they make me laugh and make me a better person and teacher. The students are what get me through each day.”

Find Nicole on her website, Behind the Classroom, and on Instagram.

Meet Nicole – a talented social studies teacher

Hi Nicole – welcome to the Series, Why I Still Love Teaching! Tell us a little about you. Where do you teach, what do you teach, and how long have you been in the profession?

My name is Nicole Pocklington, but students often call me Mrs. P! I teach in Washington state. I’m coming close to finishing my third year of teaching. I am a high school Social Studies teacher, mostly teaching 10th and 11th grade, but I’ve taught 12th graders before, too. I’m also endorsed in English and have a little experience teaching English. So I incorporate English into my Social Studies classes often.

Check out some of Nicole’s great resources on her website, including these 10+ FREE Middle and High School Social Studies resources!

Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher, Nicole, or did you come to this career after another one?

When I first went to college, I wanted to be a Zoology major – I know, not even close now. But while I was taking math classes, I would often help my friends understand it. For a while, I wanted to be a math teacher, but during my 8AM Linear Algebra class, I realized I didn’t want to learn about numbers for the next 4 years, but I loved my education class. So I did research and found Social Studies, which had history, psychology, and anthropology – all subjects I loved!

Wow, so you came to love education over time! Think back – what was your initial goal in becoming a social studies teacher?

I want to change the world – whether it be changing the world for one student or person or making a change in society.

That’s a very worthy and admirable goal, Nicole. I suspect I know the answer to this but, do you feel as though you’ve made a difference for students so far?

Definitely. Whenever students come to see me and ask for my advice, I know that I’m meeting my calling. Oftentimes, students don’t have a trusted adult and I love when I can be that person, to help navigate life.

Student Inspiration

Can you tell us about a student or students who’ve helped you grow as a more effective teacher?

The current class of 2020 at my school. They were a challenging bunch of students and I got them during my first year of teaching. They pushed me, and instead of calling it quits, I researched new methods and strategies, and reflected more than ever before. Now I see these students as seniors and they always tell me how I changed their outlook on education by never giving up on them.

Wow! It must be powerful to remember them as underclassmen and to see them now. Why do you love your students?

My students make me a better person and a better social studies teacher. They challenge me and I’m always blown away when they accomplish great things.

The Power of a Mentor

Think back to your first year of teaching, Nicole. I imagine every one of us teachers can recall a mentor or inspiration who helped us get on our feet. How about you? Who has helped you become the teacher you are today?

During my first year teaching, the district assigned a mentor teacher in building. She taught in my neighboring classroom, and her name is Carole Layton. I got the awesome opportunity to be hired at my alma mater. Believe it or not, Ms. Layton was my U. S. history teacher, and I TA’d for her my senior year! I observed her class when I had to begin observations during my education program, and she was even on my interview committee. I had a close relationship with her. She has a focus on social justice and cultural diversity. She is a great person who is willing to fight for students. She no longer works at the school, but I still meet with her almost every month.

Ms. Layton sounds like a great mentor and that she’s been a part of your story for a while! Let’s shift gears and talk about staying in the profession. It’s no secret that teaching is tough; in fact, I’ve heard it referred to as “the hardest job you’ll ever love.” How do you recharge your batteries, Nicole, especially when you’ve had a hard day?

Anytime I have a hard day, I usually watch a Disney movie to get my emotions out. I also cuddle with the dogs and cat and make Stouffer’s Mac and cheese – it’s my comfort food!

No judgment here – mine is a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup! (Readers, feel free to comment below – what is your tough-teaching-day comfort food!?)

Do you have a “teacher bestie?”

Yes! My husband is a teacher as well, and I always confide in him. He reminds me that I’m a good teacher, it’s okay that I’m learning, and often lets me cry it out.

New Teachers

Wow! I suspect there’s lots of other readers out there who are married to teachers, too. How great to have your “person” in the comfort of your own home. Well believe it or not, Nicole, you’re no longer the new teacher at school! What do you love about those teachers who are just joining our profession?

When seeing new teachers entering the field, I love their openness to new ideas. I still have that openness, but there are times that it’s hard. Keeping the willingness to change is so important and I love that new teachers are open to anything!

To those of us who are tired or disheartened in our profession, what do you advise?

I’d say – find where you’ve made a change– like when you have a positive relationship with a student, have a good laugh with a colleague, or even a happy spot in your classroom that students enjoy.

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