Lisa Shechtman is a reading specialist at General George G. Meade Elementary School in Philadelphia. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Scripps College, a Master of Education degree from the University of Hawaii and her reading specialist certification from Widener University.

(Photo Courtesy of Lisa Shechtman)

(Photo Courtesy of Lisa Shechtman)

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What is your title and what is the school system that you work for?

“I am the kindergarten through third-grade reading specialist at General George G. Meade Elementary School (a public school in the Philadelphia School District).”

What is the most challenging aspect of teaching in the classroom environment?

“Teaching in a classroom environment presents a number of challenges. Finding interesting ways to engage students in curricular materials can be difficult. Moreover, planning engaging educational experiences/activities for students is only part of a teacher’s work. Among the demanding tasks a teacher faces are the following: creating a classroom environment conducive to learning, creating and maintaining positive relationships with students and families, gathering and using assessment data to provide instruction tailored to individual student needs and providing detailed feedback on student work.”

Are continuing education courses beneficial for teachers?

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“Continuing education courses are a great way for teachers to develop their craft. Most of a teacher’s day is spent working directly with students, and comparatively little time is allotted for teacher-selected professional development. Continuing education courses allow teachers to stay abreast of new teaching methods, technological tools and curricular materials. Even for veteran teachers, taking advantage of continuing education opportunities is a great way to re-energize and refresh your praxis.”

Do you feel a master’s education would be helpful in your day-to-day career?

“I believe a master’s degree in education is helpful for the daily work of a teacher. During a master’s program, teachers are able to collaborate with peers, hone their praxis and learn about current topics in educational research. While taking master’s level courses, as opposed to undergraduate course work, teachers can apply their learning directly to their current classroom. Teaching can be a very isolating profession with little time allocated for professional development, and taking graduate courses gives teachers the opportunity to have professional discussions with peers as well as to learn about and apply current findings in education research.”

Do you have any advice for people wanting to enter the teaching profession?

“An effective teacher must be dedicated, hardworking and committed to the success of his/her students. The first year of teaching can be especially challenging when trying to mold your teaching philosophy with the realities of the classroom and dealing with expectations placed on all teachers, regardless of their years of experience. I would recommend spending as much time as you can in a variety of classrooms and schools as a student teacher to get a sense of the teaching profession as a whole. Additionally, it is important to establish professional relationships with peers and colleagues (i.e. communicating with mentor teachers, professors and other new teachers, as well as reaching out to veteran teachers for support and advice).”

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Christina Thompson is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. She reports on various topics such as: Social Media, Local Events, Entertainment, Food and Drink and more. Her work can be found at