"For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher," Victoria Hogan, APT's January teacher of the month, said. "I adored my first grade teacher, and knew I wanted to teach." Hogan is a teacher with 20 years of experience who one parent said in their nomination was "created to teach kindergarten." Hogan is currently working at Highlands Elementary in Dothan, Alabama, a town she described as a big city with a small town vibe. "One minute, you can be shopping and the next you can be on a farm. Dothan has a great sense of community," she said.
Inside the Classroom
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love getting to be the first “big school” experience for students and families. Making home to school connections and getting kids excited about school and learning is one of my favorite things about teaching kindergarten.
What inspires you?
Seeing my students work hard on a skill that is difficult for them and mastering it, and watching my kids find ways to help and encourage their friends.
What’s a common misconception about your job?
So many people think kindergarten teachers play all day. I don’t think they realize that we are teaching students to read and write, teaching number sense, and teaching them how to be part of a classroom community. Just because kids are only 5 and 6 does not mean they can’t do hard things.
How do you use APT and PBS LearningMedia resources in the classroom?
I actually use portions of many of the shows available on APT/PBS like Sid the Science Kid and Daniel Tiger to assist with teaching social skills. My kids love the songs that are part of the show, and I like the way these shows give a fun, catchy way to learn about these social skills. We also love using resources from Super Why to reinforce literacy skills.
How do you stay motivated in the classroom?
Teaching is for sure not an easy job! It can be physically and mentally draining, but having the support of family and coworkers makes it much easier. My husband is very involved in my classroom and will often come listen to kids read, play soccer with them, and even act as our conductor for our Polar Express day. I also work with an amazing team who help me stay motivated.
What do you hope that your students remember about you and your classroom?
I hope they remember that they were loved and that their kindergarten year was full of fun, learning, and magic.
What is your approach to teaching students?
I have very high expectations – for academics and behavior. I want to make sure my classroom is structured but loving, and a place where students feel safe to express ideas and make mistakes. I want to make learning fun and get students excited about learning, so they can rise to meet those expectations. Many people call our kindergarten team “extra” because we do tend to go all out for various projects and special days, but we want our students to feel like school is the most fun, magical place.
What part of your job do you wish you’d known earlier?
To know that some days, academics are the last thing we need to focus on. Sometimes, we need to have some quiet time, play a game, have extra recess, read some extra stories, or just talk to each other.
What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
Relationships and routines first. Academics can wait. The success of your year depends on the routines, structure, and classroom community you build in those first few weeks. Don’t be afraid to have high expectations. Your students will almost always rise to meet them!
What would you say to the class of 2023-2024?
Always do what’s best for you. I think it’s hard when you’re young to stand up for yourself and do what’s best for you. However, it’s not worth being unhappy to do, or not do, what others are telling you.
Do you know an extraordinary teacher in your community? Nominate them for the APT Excellence in Education award!