Eight Questions for Emerging Leader Annie Huynh

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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 young, promising educators and prepares them to influence education programs, policy, and practice on both local and national levels. Learn more about emerging leaders on the ASCD website.

Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?

Emerging leader

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

I teach 3rd and 4th grade students reading, writing, and social studies. In reading and writing workshops, I engage students to help them find their voices and identify as readers and writers. A typical day includes collaborating with ESOL, learning support, and grade-level partner teachers to facilitate learning for our students.

To create a community of learners who use skills for social justice, authentic purposes, and real-world connections.

Why did you become an educator?

I became an educator to make a difference in a child’s life. Seeing the growth of a student over the years is an amazing privilege, and students give me hope for the future.

As an ASCD emerging leader, how do you hope to have an effect on education in your community and beyond?

As an emerging leader with ASCD, I hope to use writing and presentations as a way to share teacher leadership and expertise from the classroom to influence education policy, teaching practice, and the teaching profession in the Philadelphia area and nationally.

What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses, etc.) have made a difference in your career?

I attended the Philadelphia Writing Project Summer Institute, a three week program that helps teachers explore the connections between literacy, learning, and teaching. The institute helped me find my teacher voice, rekindled my writing, and introduced me to the world of teacher networks.

The book Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development, edited by Enid Lee, Deborah Menkart, and Margo Okazawa-Rey, is a great resource for antibiased approaches to curriculum and professional development.

The book Understanding by Design, by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, was essential for me to plan and design curricula.

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

When I was teaching English as a foreign language in Taiwan, I taught students who were five or six years old. For most of the students, it was their first school and English learning experience, so many of them came to class crying and knowing no English. Throughout the year, the students adjusted and we learned the alphabet, read books, wrote, and sang songs.  By the end of the year, the students were conversing with me in English, using different vocabulary words, and had started reading and writing in English. At that moment, I realized how rewarding teaching can be and what an amazing privilege it is to see these learners blossom and learn over time.

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

If I could change one thing about education, it would be to create more hybrid positions in schools where teachers teach part-time and also take on leadership roles. By giving teachers the time and resources to do research, collaborate, and coordinate programs or events, the school culture and learning environment is positive, professional, and innovative, thus creating better conditions to facilitate student learning.

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

A student was holding an eraser wrapped in string and scrap paper hanging by a paperclip. When I asked him what it was, he said, “It’s a jetpack for a mouse.”

Connect with Annie Huynh on Twitter @TchrAnnie. More from Emerging Leaders on Inservice.