We are pleased to honor Lisa McGovern as the October Graider of the Month. Lisa is currently a junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying History, Secondary Education, and Political Science. She is also president-elect of executive board for her local branch of the Illinois Education Association Student Program (IEASP), where she has served as executive board member for the past two years. In addition to her impressive leadership, Lisa is also making a tremendous impact on many students through her work with The Graide Network.
High school English teacher Brenton noted, “Students throughout all my courses look to see if Lisa was their Graider. They know her work by the amount and quality of the feedback. She is no longer just a Graider of the papers to the students, she is a writing tutor. Students trust and believe that her comments will make them better writers.”
Lisa first realized she wanted to be a teacher when she noticed that many people did not take teenagers seriously, but teachers did! She wanted to be one of those people who respected teenagers. Not to mention, she also had a strong interest in history so teaching high school history made sense.
Several amazing teachers have inspired Lisa’s pursuit of the teaching profession. Her high school social studies teacher created lessons that felt student-centric and made AP History exciting. Her high school math teacher was always willing and available to help outside the classroom. These role models have deeply shaped the type of teacher that Lisa aspires to be.
We asked Lisa why she wants to teach history in particular and she said, “History is one of the most underrated subjects for what it actually has the power to teach.” By teaching history, you are also teaching communication, writing, reading and critical thinking and doing so in an interesting way (because history is all about people!). Lisa believes that it is important for everyone to understand how people have acted in the past and use that understanding to reflect on the present more clearly.
What scares Lisa about becoming a teacher? Lisa mentioned that through her current clinical work she has realized how hard pacing is. As a teacher you need to plan out lessons but you will never know how students will react or how long a topic will take. Classroom management is another “terrifying” part of being a new teaching; “it’s hard to get into the heads of your kids, and communicate in a way that is not disrespectful but is retaining control.”
By working with high school English teachers on The Graide Network, Lisa was firstly struck by the sheer volume of time that it takes a teacher to grade writing assignments, even those that are only one page long. She appreciates teachers so much more for it! Lisa also developed skills for working with rubrics, which she found to be incredibly helpful. At first read, an essay might seem good, but when she referenced the rubric, she often realized that the student may have missed the assignment’s goal. As a student, Lisa sometimes felt overwhelmed by rubrics. After experiencing rubrics from a teacher’s perspective, she has come to appreciate rubrics in a whole new way.
Congratulations to Lisa from the entire Graide Network team. Keep up the good work on your way to the classroom and a career of impact and meaning!