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St. John School Teacher Profiles: Meet Ms. Lillian Grant, Grade 3

Meet Ms. Lillian Grant, St. John School 3rd Grade Teacher
Meet Ms. Lillian Grant, St. John School 3rd Grade Teacher

Can you tell us a little about your background and how long have you been a teacher at St. John School?
This is my second year teaching at the St. John School, and my third year as a teacher. I moved to Boston to attend graduate school at Simmons College after graduating from Trinity College in 2010. After a year of graduate school, and a semester student teaching in a third grade classroom at the Lawrence School in Brookline, I was hired as a second grade intern at the Chestnut Hill School in Chestnut Hill. In the fall of 2012, I made the move to St. John School as a classroom assistant in K4B, and this fall I was thrilled to make the transition to being the third grade teacher at SJS.

What attracted you to teaching?
I never considered another career besides teaching. Elementary school was difficult for me; I often felt unable to be a successful student and was quickly discouraged. With the support and encouragement of some impactful teachers during middle and high school, I became a vibrant, excited student and life-long learner. Experiencing how significantly some dedicated teachers affected me as a student made me want to do the same for others. Elementary school is a perfect fit for me because it is in these grades that students develop a sense of who they are as a learner and develop the academic confidence I lacked in my early school years. I guess teaching runs in my blood, as my grandfather was a Headmaster, and my sister is a second grade teacher in New York City.

What is most rewarding about being a teacher?
The most rewarding part of being a teacher is seeing a student achieve the “ah ha moment”. This moment occurs when a student all of sudden makes a meaningful connection to a concept. Oftentimes you can see the physical manifestation of the understanding spread across the student’s face as they smile wide and exclaim, “Ah ha, it makes sense!” Nothing is more rewarding than feeling as though you had a small role in facilitating this moment. It is also incredibly rewarding to see the pride a student feels when they have worked hard to achieve understanding, and finally do so.

What is one thing you wish someone had told you before you started your first day of teaching?
There is a big emphasis on curriculum planning and lesson structure. I wish someone told me that while those things are important, there are going to be days and times when your carefully developed lessons do not go to plan, and that is okay! Sometimes activities take longer than anticipated, and you cannot get to something else you planned. Other times, student needs require you to think on your feet and change up what you initially had in store for the day. Teaching is fast paced and exciting, and requires you to be extremely flexible. I wish someone had emphasized the importance of flexibility and quick thinking before my first day in the classroom.

What’s the newest, freshest approach you are bringing to your job as a St. John School teacher?
The freshest approach to learning involves incorporating technology into lessons on a daily basis. There is a plethora of teaching resources online, and it is important as a teacher to utilize these amazing resources, and to keep current with best practices when it comes to technology. Technology plays a big role in the day-to-day lives of students, and thus it is significant to incorporate it into their daily academics. We often hear of teaching “20th century skills”, and many of these skills are linked to teaching students to properly use various forms of technology.   Plus, technology makes education interactive and fun!

What is the hardest thing about being a teacher?
The hardest thing about teaching is the time it takes to prepare each day. From grading papers, to planning and organizing lessons, to making copies and communicating with parents, it is a lot to balance. Teachers take great care and pride in their lessons, wanting them to be as engaging and exciting as possible for their students. It is not unusual for me to become so absorbed in planning a particular lesson that hours go by as all of these new ideas continue to come to me.

What is something your students have taught you?
My students have taught me the importance of slowing down and being present in the moment. As teachers, we are often thinking one step ahead of our students. Days at school feel so fast paced with transitions to and from various subjects and specials, that it can be easy to rush through small assignments, moments, and achievements that are significant for students. Slowing down and enjoying each moment of the day allows me to connect individually with my students, and keeps me aware of how they are progressing academically, socially, and emotionally. Pausing from time to time allows me to reflect on just how much my students are learning and accomplishing.

What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?
In my free time I love reading, and often find myself so absorbed in literature that I am unproductive until I finish a novel I have started. I enjoy traveling and exploring new places, and particularly like spending time at the beach and taking walks outside. Exploring outdoor farmers’ markets and experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen are two of my other hobbies. Recently, I have developed an interest in interior design, so I find myself watching quite a bit of HGTV!

What’s your favorite funny story about yourself?
When I was around two years old, I began taking ballet lessons. I developed a quick love of dancing, so much so that I changed my name to “Ballet” and refused to wear anything besides a leotard, tutu, and tights for over a year! I distinctly remember telling adults who commented on my attire that my name was “Ballet”, and reminding family members who called me “Lee” that my name was in fact “Ballet”. I still have a sweatshirt and water bottle from this time period with the name “Ballet” written on them to remind me of this quirky phase in my life.

What was your favorite toy or game as a child, and why
My cousins and I were passionate about rollerblading as we were growing up. I remember spending many days, nights and holidays rollerblading outside in my driveway and in my basement with my cousins. We would set up jumps and ramps, and have races to see who could rollerblade the furthest or fastest. To this day, one of the best presents I have ever received, and my most prized possession as a child, was my first pair of pink rollerblades. My mom searched high and low to find them in such a tiny size, and receiving them for Christmas answered many months of wishes and prayers on my part.