Welcome to Tanya Yero Teaching.
A place for educators that is designed to make teaching rigorous and fun!
My path to becoming an educator has been one with forks and speedbumps. As a child I was called an “old soul.” I was curious about the world and enjoyed hanging out with older kids and adults. I liked to learn new things, but that didn’t transfer into school. I struggled. In elementary school, I had a hard time following auditory directions, so spelling tests were a nightmare. I would fail every spelling test, even though I knew the words. I just couldn’t keep up with the speed of the teacher. I would go home crying to my mom every Wednesday explaining to her “When I hear the teacher say each word it gets scrambled in my head and I have to unscramble the letters before I can write them down, and then I run out of time.” Knowing what I know now about education, I was battling with a processing issue. I was a perfectionist by heart so my less than perfect grades made me feel negative about school. I had already disconnected with education by the time I reached 3rd grade.
Thru middle and high school I was an average student. I learned to cope with my processing disorder independently but it was still a battle. I found drama club my freshman year of high school and fell in love. Finally an opportunity to show my talents. On stage I could be someone different, but yet it was all me. Drama club got me thru high school.
When it came time to select a career path, the idea of becoming a teacher felt more and more like a reality. I have three younger siblings and I spent my childhood taking care of them and teaching them what I knew. It was a rewarding and comforting process I was familiar with. When I started telling my family I wanted to become a teacher I got a lot of kickback. The negative feedback had me reconsider my choice. After high school I took a year off to figure out what I wanted to do. Feeling misunderstood and lost I got into the idea of speech pathology. I would go volunteer with a speech pathologist my mom knew each week. I loved working with the kids and felt such delight when I got the chance to observe their development.
Around this time I met a guy who would become my husband. I was planning on heading to Pennsylvania for speech pathology school, but after dating for a while I was finding myself not wanting to leave. One night we were talking about the uncertainty of the future and I came clean about wanting to originally become a teacher. I remember Mark looked directly at me and simply stated “Tanya, it’s your life. If you want to be a teacher, be a teacher.” So I did. I enrolled at the University of South Florida and loved every minute of college. As an adult education was easier for me. I knew how to manipulative letters and numbers to help me focus, and I was more disciplined. I graduated with a 3.9 GPA and my degree in Elementary Education.
But, I was graduating at one of the worst economic times. It was 2009 and finding a job was hard. I lived in a school district that was on a hiring freeze for teachers. I also graduated in December so the school year had already started. I had no hope of finding a job, but in the weeks after I graduated I visited every school in the three districts near me and hand delivered my resume. I wanted a job and I was going to fight for one.
One day I was browsing thru a website USF gave to us graduates that would post teacher jobs. I saw a job listing for a school about 30 minutes away. I interviewed for the position two days before Christmas. I called Mark on the way home and told him about the interview. Knowing my impatience he said to me “Because it’s so close to Christmas, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from them for a while.” I had just changed out of my interview outfit and into my sweatpants when my phone rang. It was the principal of the school offering me the position that very same day. I graciously accepted the position and cried that whole afternoon in sheer delight.
I worked at my first school for 3 years teaching 3rd grade. I loved every minute of it. It was in a rural, modest county. My school was Title 1 and 87% of our students were on free/reduced lunch. My students didn’t have a lot, so I wanted to give them as much as I could. I spent my nights planning and prepping, being the best teacher I could be. It was the end of my 3rd year in my first school district that the state of Florida was talking about performance based pay. I wanted to stay but knew that the social-economic diversity of my district made it difficult to show growth and now my pay would be based on school progress. The school district that I lived in was hiring again, so that summer I decided to transfer.
I interviewed at a school that was the only full-time gifted public school in the state of Florida. I didn’t expect them to callback because I wasn’t gifted endorsed and surely someone else interviewed that was. But sure enough I was offered the position and again graciously accepted.
I entered a position that was the polar opposite of where I came from at my first school. It was different, but I enjoyed gifted education. We departmentalized so I loved the opportunity to really focus on a passion of mine, math. It was my 2nd year at my new school that I attended a professional development workshop. It was all about conceptual understanding and that moment was my biggest AHA moment as an educator. I knew I was a good teacher. I knew my curriculum, but I could be expecting more rigor from my students. That workshop forever changed me as teacher. I completely revamped how I taught math after that.
Teaching has changed so much in the mere eight years I have been part of it and sometimes it hard to manage. There are greater expectations and demands today. There are days you feel like the worst teacher. There are moments where you feel like your students will “never get it.” But then I remember that I have changed too. I’m not the same person I was when I first started teaching. I was barely 23 when I taught my first group of students; a baby with overzealous dreams of “fixing” every child that came my way. Now I’m wiser and more experienced. I have grit and poise.