Say Hello to Amanda Marino, 4th Grade Teacher at Bullis Charter School, Los Altos
SVT: Is there something that or a favorite teacher who inspired you to become a teacher?
AM: I have always thought that teaching would be my career choice. I remember my mom telling my elementary school principal that I wanted to be a teacher, and she thought it was a great idea! As I went through high school and college, I explored other options, but I kept coming back to teaching. Nothing else seemed quite right for me, and I truly could not visualize myself in any other career. I continued into my credential program, and I haven’t looked back!
SVT: What do you like most about being a teacher?
AM: I am only in my fourth year of my career, and I already feel like I’m in for a lifetime of challenges, opportunities to grow and improve as a professional! I love that teaching is so dynamic and that there are so many facets of it. Granted, this is the same idea that often causes a lot of stress in the job, but I believe that stress is what motivates you to keep going, keep improving, and keep pushing yourself to be better.
Obviously, there are surface-level enjoyments about teaching- working with kids, reading, developing your own knowledge and sharing it with students, being creative, and even organizing things (because, there are about a million things to keep track of) for people like me who enjoy that kind of thing. Those things only get you so far, though. I believe that, to truly enjoy your job, you must feel a deeper sense of satisfaction than organizing your desk at the end of the day or feeling proud that you delivered an interesting lesson or presentation. One must be internally motivated to grow, learn, develop, explore, collaborate, experiment, and succeed… and teaching does that for me.
SVT: How do you like to establish rapport with your students?
AM: I believe that the first few weeks of school are crucial for developing a sense of community, rapport, and respect in the classroom. I do a number of beginning-of-year activities that are specifically related to setting expectations and building trust, such as discussing, voting on, and signing classroom norms, sharing 4th grade “hopes and fears,” taking a classroom tour (and reviewing expectations at each stop), and playing a number of team and class games.
Throughout the year, we have daily morning meetings, which set the tone for the day. Students greet each other with a proper handshake and eye contact, we review the schedule for the day, and I tell them about any upcoming announcements, assignments, projects, or events that the class needs to know about. On Friday afternoons, we usually have a class meeting to see each other off for the weekend and to read from “The Bright Side Wall,” which is a small bulletin board in my classroom on which students can post positive life events.
SVT: Is it a special joy you see in the growth and motivation throughout the year of your students?
AM: The joy of teaching and seeing students succeed is not only a special joy- it is an incredibly unique and exclusive joy that teachers and other adults who work with children are able to experience. It is usually a gradual joy that develops throughout the course of the year, so a teacher must learn to be reflective in order to truly see the tremendous growth made by students. However, sometimes the “light bulb” moments occur, when students quickly grasp a concept or idea, and that provides an instantaneous dose of the joy of teaching.
SVT: What can parents do to support literacy in their home for your students?
AM: Simply taking time to sit and read with a child is crucial to the development of each student’s reading skills. Students can read aloud to parents, listen to parents read, read silently as a parent reads silently… there are many combinations, but the key idea is this: parents can help tremendously in encouraging a love of reading in his/her child.
I even believe that little things, such as having children read labels and signs at the grocery store or other informal public activities can instill an appreciation for reading and an understanding of it as an essential life skill- not just an assessment done at the beginning and end of each school year.
SVT: What do you see as the role of the teacher in the classroom and learning process?
AM: The role of a teacher changes from period to period, and day to day. Sometimes, I am the direct instructor who is delivering a lesson and providing information for a group of students. Sometimes, I am the facilitator for a small group or a student-led project. Sometimes, I’m a mediator for students who need to work out a conflict and practice problem solving skills. Sometimes, I’m the encourager for a student who is almost in tears because he/she can’t think of a topic for a free writing session in Writer’s Workshop. Sometimes, I’m the bad guy, giving constructive feedback to the overachieving student who doesn’t want to hear it.
SVT: When away from school and homework of your own, what interests and hobbies do you enjoy?
AM: I enjoy relaxing as much as I can! I value time with my family on weekends and during breaks, so I try to spend as much time with them as I can. My husband and I enjoy wine tasting, going to movies, going out to dinner, and hiking. Personally, I enjoy taking some time for myself every now and then to work out, read, and shopping/window shopping.
About Amanda Marino
Amanda Marino is so excited to be returning for her third year at BCS as a 4th grade teacher! She is really looking forward to a new school year full of innovation and collaboration with the entire Bullis community.
Born and raised in Milpitas, Amanda has always called the Bay Area her home. She graduated from CSU East Bay with a BA in Communication, with an emphasis in Interpersonal Communication. She then transferred to San Jose State University where she was accepted into the TE Collaborative Partial Internship program and received her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. The following year, Amanda worked in the Milpitas Unified and Campbell Union school districts, where she gained valuable experience with students in grades K-6. She also coached an under-10 girl’s soccer team, which gave her a whole new type of teaching experience!
Amanda has always wanted to be a teacher, and is thrilled to be fulfilling her dream. She loves sharing knowledge, being creative and thoughtful about her teaching strategies, and getting to know every student in order to meet his/her individual needs. She enjoys the fact that every day in the classroom is a different one, keeping her on her toes and presenting new challenges! Teaching is an incredibly rewarding career, which is one of many reasons that Amanda was determined to be a part of it.
Amanda and her husband, Jason, recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary and are still getting used to married life. Jason is also currently working on obtaining his single-subject teaching credential in Chemistry, so they are certainly a busy couple! During her free time, Amanda enjoys spending time with her family and friends, wine tasting, watching movies, traveling, practicing her cooking skills, and playing with her cat, Nala, and her parents’ golden retrievers, Maggie and Cooper.