Ashleigh Justice did not plan on becoming a teacher. Growing up in Arizona, she had a mix of inspirational teachers and teachers who did not always know how to handle all of her energy. “As a student with ADHD, I was a little bit more challenging,” she admitted.
Ashleigh began her college career as a psychology major. Particularly interested in learning how companies can work more efficiently, Ashleigh intended to utilize her degree in corporate environments to improve employee productivity and happiness. But after starting her junior year without a clear career path, she decided to take a break from school to gain some real world experience.
Working at a non-profit and attempting “the whole half school, half work thing” proved to be too strenuous. Then she had her son. With her new family in mind, she switched to medical supplies sales, even though she knew it wasn’t exactly what she wanted to do.
During a discussion about the teaching profession, one of Ashleigh’s clients— an iTeachAZ representative — asked her, “Why don’t you be a teacher?” She couldn’t think of a reason not to. After all, she grew up watching her mother enjoy a prolific career as a teacher, and she longed to make a real difference.
That casual conversation prompted Ashleigh to go back to school, but she had her doubts. Could she command a classroom? Did she have the necessary grit? Would the kids like her? Through trial and error, coupled with the support of her husband and peers, Ashleigh’s confidence grew.
Ashleigh also credits the Sanford Inspire Program for boosting her confidence and refining her skills. “It fills in the gaps,” she said.
As a psych major, Ashleigh studied learning from psychological and scientific perspectives, but she did not have the opportunity to study how learning influences teaching. That disparity made it difficult to manage student behavior and design inspirational lesson plans. Although Ashleigh “really love[s] math and teaching it,” she struggled to get her students to engage and even behave. The Sanford Inspire Program tapped into her love of learning and helped her catch up with her peers.
The Creating Class Rules module empowered Ashleigh with the tools necessary to establish academically driven, observable rules that promote a positive classroom environment. She used strategies that she learned from the Design a Problem-Based Learning Experience module when incorporating party planning into a math lesson. The students loved it. “They didn’t realize that they were working on ratios!” Ashleigh proclaimed.
Recognizing the value that the Sanford Inspire Program modules add to her own practice, Ashleigh regularly recommends them to her peers. For example, one of her mother’s students lost a brother in a car accident over the summer, so Ashleigh referred her to the Supporting Trauma-Exposed Students module.
The modules enable Ashleigh to learn when, where and what she wants. As a busy mom, she values their concise nature. “There was a lot of thought that went into what belongs and what doesn’t belong,” she said. Furthermore, she values the tangible tools that she can “immediately put into practice” after completing a module.
Ashleigh plans on utilizing the Sanford Inspire Program’s resources as she begins her new role in a 7th grade math class. Knowing that students learn best when they feel safe and comfortable, she aims to inspire her new students by fostering a warm and welcoming environment that combats “math anxiety.”
Reach out today to learn more about how you can use Sanford Inspire Program resources to enhance your teaching practice.