Meet Crista Baisley (she/her), a 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher at Carver Middle School. We recently connected to discuss her experiences after completing her first full year of teaching. Read more below.

Crista always knew she was destined to become a teacher. Her struggles as an auditory learner in a mostly visual teaching environment fueled her passion for education. Growing up, she learned better through listening rather than seeing or writing, often spending weekends with her mother exploring alternative learning methods.

“I felt this was unfair and decided to become a teacher to ensure that all students who learn differently are seen in the classroom,” she explained. 

Crista’s commitment to meeting student needs and engaging them led to many memorable moments. Her favorite involved one essay prompt asking if actions speak louder than words. The topic did not appear interesting to students at first, but student engagement increased dramatically after she encouraged them to draw from personal experiences. This prompted them to return for feedback and finish after school. One student’s enthusiasm underscored to Crista the importance of creating relatable lessons and fostering students’ interest in learning. “Thanks, Miss. I actually kind of like English now,” said the student. 

Support from her colleagues and administration played a significant role in Crista’s successful first year. The more experienced ELA teachers at Carver were always ready to offer advice on classroom management and project layout. She also benefited from weekly coaching sessions with her peer coach and designated administrator, learning essential skills for lesson planning and student engagement. This network of support helped her navigate the challenges of her first year and grow as an educator.

Throughout the year, Crista underwent substantial personal and professional development. Navigating the behavior of a specific group of students challenged her resilience and classroom management skills, fostering her growth as an educator while emphasizing her understanding of student needs. Additionally, she grasped the significance of setting boundaries, following her college professor’s advice to be available for her students while maintaining a work-life balance.

Looking ahead to the next school year, Crista is excited about her new role as team lead in the ELA department and the opportunity to witness her students’ continued growth. To new teachers, she offers the same wisdom provided to her at the beginning of the year by her principal: “Be true to yourself and build relationships with your students. Remember, teaching is not a race, it’s a marathon.”