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Distinguished Teacher Clay Dagler

  • Luther Burbank High School
  • Sacramento City Unified School District
  • Mathematics and Computer Science
  • 9th - 12th
  • Math

What advice would you give to people considering a career in teaching?

My short answer would to be to say stop thinking about it and start. It is a very rewarding career for many reasons. As a teacher, you know you are making a difference in others’ lives because you see your students grow throughout the year in your classroom. I do not just mean they gain skills in the content you are covering, but you also see the students mature by developing the skills they need to become successful after they leave your class. Some of these skills include positive relationships, self-management, and good decision-making skills. Teaching is a profession where you contribute to the lives of others, which in turn gives your own life meaning.

What's the best thing about teaching?

Aside from building meaningful relationships with my students and watching them grow, the best thing about teaching is you always have an opportunity to learn. The first few years of my teaching, I mostly taught intervention classes, and at this time, I attended workshops that helped me improve in classroom management and taught me instructional strategies that gives all my students an opportunity to master the content covered in my class. I have never stopped teaching these intervention classes, but I have also taught mathematics in the International Baccalaureate program where I went to trainings on how this rigorous content is covered throughout the world and what the top students need for the next step in their academic career. For the past four years, I have stepped away from these IB math classes and moved towards computer science and robotics. Now, I am attending and leading trainings on how to incorporate robotics and coding into mathematics classes in order to improve students’ engagement and understanding of the standards that are being covered. Being in a career where you can learn and grow like the teaching profession keeps what you do on a day-to-day basis exciting and rewarding.

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