Eight Questions for Emerging Leader Jill Thompson

We’re always looking for new ways to insert ASCD voices into our conversations on Inservice. With this in mind, we’ve developed a question and answer session for our ASCD Emerging Leaders. The Emerging Leaders program recognizes and prepares young, promising educators to influence education programs, policy, and practice on both the local and national levels. Learn more about Emerging Leaders on the ASCD website.

Jill Thompson Emerging Leader Philosophy1. Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?

I am an Instructional Technology Specialist. My job is to support teaching and learning through aligning the curriculum with technology by providing planning support, professional development, and guidance for schools in my district.

2. What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?

My educational philosophy is to create an innovative, 21st century learning environment by teaching a rich, meaningful, and well-balanced curriculum of skills and concepts through age appropriate activities for all students, setting the stage for their entire academic life and encouraging children to become lifelong learners.

3. Why did you become an educator?

I struggled in school, not learning to read well until I was in 5th grade. A vivid memory was when my 3rd grade teacher told me that I would never make it to college. This statement had a very negative impact on me, and to this day, there are times when I wonder if I am “good enough.” In 5th grade, things changed for me. An inspiring teacher cared about me and wanted to help me learn. Due to his great instruction and guidance, I learned to read well and by 8th grade, I was in honors classes and constantly reading. I will never forget the impact that these two teachers had on my life. My 3rd grade year brought such negative feelings about learning, while my 5th grade year brought feelings of empowerment and a love of learning. I wanted to make a difference like my 5th grade teacher did for me.

4. As an ASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater impact on education in your community and beyond?

As an ASCD Emerging Leader, I hope to have a greater impact on education through leadership. I like to share my experiences and learnings with others through Twitter (@edu_thompson), blogging, and conferences.

5. What professional development books, DVDs, webinars, and courses have made a difference in your career?

The PD book that has made a difference is, Never Work Harder Than Your Students & Other Principles of Great Teachingby Robyn R. Jackson. The PD ‘course’ would have to be Twitter and http://www.codecademy.com. All of these resources have helped me become a better educator and leader. I believe in being a lifelong learner as I am always trying to improve myself.

6. Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.

My first year teaching, when I cried like a baby at their end-of-year ceremony. I was so proud that all my students had made at least a year of growth and had become wonderful well-rounded young adults but also because I knew how much they had taught me as well.

7. If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?

I want all students to be agents of their learning and have teachers facilitate this deeper learning through the student’s passions. I think personalizing learning is the key to our students’ success to be college and career ready.

8. What’s the craziest thing a student has ever said to you?

A student had been moved from several classrooms due to behavior into mine. After a few weeks, his behavior was much better and you could tell he was trying. I asked him what had changed during one of our conferences and he said, “You are peanut butter and I am jelly, we just go together.” That was good enough for me.

Tina Byland is a public relations and social media professional on the ASCD Communications team. She helps manage various ASCD social media channels and the ASCD Inservice blog, while also working in traditional media outreach. Before joining ASCD in 2013, she was a pre-kindergarten teacher in Annapolis, Md. and a selector for D.C. Teaching Fellows. Prior to teaching, Tina has six years of public relations experience.