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“5 Things You Need To Know To Be A Highly Effective Educator”, With TeKedra Pierre

At the heart of it all, curriculum should provide a strong foundation and the alignment of student interests. Students should be able to make daily connections to what they are learning in the classroom and how it relates to everyday life, potential career, etc. The days of just being a doctor are over. Doctors are […]

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At the heart of it all, curriculum should provide a strong foundation and the alignment of student interests. Students should be able to make daily connections to what they are learning in the classroom and how it relates to everyday life, potential career, etc. The days of just being a doctor are over. Doctors are teachers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and more. Curriculum should support the ongoing needs of students and the progression of our global economy. The points below are critical because they help support the entire student, not just their academic strengths.

As a part of my interview series about “5 Things You Need To Know To Be A Highly Effective Educator”, I had the pleasure to interview TeKedra Pierre.

TeKedra Pierre is the Director of Experiential Learning at The Village School in Houston. She actively builds relevant partnerships that prepare students for post secondary opportunities through experiential learning.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the “backstory” behind what brought you to this particular career path?

Ihave always been passionate about the intersection of academics and industry. As long as I can remember I have asked the question of why, and have always had the most inquisitive mind. Growing up, I initially wanted to be a teacher. Then a doctor, which led me to a career in healthcare for 10 years. During that time, I was training, mentoring, and growing, I never stopped learning. Once I decided to teach, everything changed. It was as if all that I had done before, prepared me for the role as a high school teacher. Not just in the areas of academics, but the life and industry experiences that I brought into the classroom. I am a firm believer that the best teachers are those that have worked in other industries, as seen in Career and Technical Education (CTE). I am very passionate about CTE and it is the framework of my work with The Village School. My current role as Director of Experiential Learning allows me to pull together relationships and opportunities that have spanned over my 20+ years professional career. I truly enjoy what I do!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your teaching career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I started my career in education in 2006, so a lot has happened since then! I get to visit a lot of interesting places, companies, facilities, hospitals, laboratories, etc. I also get to meet a lot of interesting people. For me, one of the most interesting things I have done is coach cheerleaders. Random right?! I was never a cheerleader myself. However, I saw a need and filled it to the best of my ability. I had no idea what I was doing! Well, I had some idea…Through education, I became the only certified coach in the district I was working in at the time, and I had the opportunity to shape student-athletes lives outside of the classroom. Becoming a coach was when I knew that I was destined to do more with students than teach. That leap of faith led to more opportunities outside of the classroom, like curriculum development and to today, where I am creating a global experiential learning program for K-12 students. I love watching students learn when they don’t even realize they are learning.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

The essence of my work is to create new and exciting programs for students so I’m always working on something exciting! I am developing partnerships with universities in the area to further enhance what we are doing here at Village. Working at the university level gives me an opportunity to ensure that our students are receiving the best education possible while preparing them for the next phase of life. I am curating experiences for our students in grades K-12 because it is never too early to tap into learning potential. Our elementary students are so creative and innovative. I am always excited to hear about what they are working on. Their ambition gives me ideas to take to the middle and high school students with increased rigor and expectation. The universities want to learn more about what we are doing with younger students and how they can get involved. Exciting things are on the horizon, I cannot wait to talk about it!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. From your point of view, how would you rate the results of the US education system?

I think the United States’ approach to education has been in place for a long time and served students well. Yet at Village, we take a holistic approach to education through experiential learning, curriculum development, innovation, and wellness. The goal for all our students is to graduate with more than an academic education, but with a global education that includes a variety of opportunities that have connected their classroom learning experiences.

Can you identify 5 areas of the US education system that are going really great?

At Village, we pride ourselves on bringing top quality education to an international community of students. In fact, that is a huge differentiator for us. Our students are immersed in a global educational setting daily. The international diversity found on our campus is like nothing else provided in the Greater Houston area. Our programming is innovative, such as the Entrepreneurship Diploma program that allows students to understand the entrepreneurial mindset and apply it to any industry they choose. Our ability to incorporate technology into the classroom, to utilize innovative technologies from companies like Microsoft give our students a unique and competitive edge. We also have the ability to connect students to mentorship that will help guide them through their personal and professional journey.

Can you identify the 5 key areas of the US education system that should be prioritized for improvement? Can you explain why those are so critical?

At the heart of it all, curriculum should provide a strong foundation and the alignment of student interests. Students should be able to make daily connections to what they are learning in the classroom and how it relates to everyday life, potential career, etc. The days of just being a doctor are over. Doctors are teachers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and more. Curriculum should support the ongoing needs of students and the progression of our global economy. The points below are critical because they help support the entire student, not just their academic strengths.

  • Experiential learning
  • Education and industry partnerships
  • Student engagement
  • Curriculum
  • Fundamentals like financial literacy, leadership development, and the return of courses like home economics, sewing, woodshop to help support efforts for a more sustainable environment.

Super. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Know To Be A Highly Effective Educator?” Please share a story or example for each.

If I were asked this question before the COVID-19 pandemic my answers would most likely be the same. Being a highly effective educator means taking care of yourself before taking care of others so you can be at your best.

1. Patience — Have patience with yourself and your students

2. Flexibility- Can adapt to a variety of environments

3. Professional Development- Be a lifelong learner

4. Personal Development- Continue to be involved with things you enjoy or are passionate about outside of our work-life. Keep a good balance of priorities and activities.

5. Leadership- As the leader of your classroom, lead with empathy and understanding of individual student needs.

All the above were tested during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic…teachers who were great with in-person classroom management may have had challenges with the virtual classroom. At Village, we introduced the Virtual School Experience (VSE) before many schools in the US. Being a part of a global network of schools, many of our campuses in other countries had already experienced lockdowns so we had somewhat of a reference point to look at when developing processes and the platform for our students to use. This proved to be very successful in maintaining student engagement online as well as the rigor our students and parents have come to expect from The Village School.

During COVID-19, experiential learning as we know it was reshaped into virtual experiential learning. Instead of the live, in-person experiences, our students engaged in virtual opportunities all over the world. Because the heart of experiential learning is flexibility, we were able to adapt relatively seamlessly. Since my start at Village in 2018, all students that I encountered became familiar with technology platforms like Zoom and Cisco WebEx.

As you know, teachers play such a huge role in shaping young lives. What would you suggest needs to be done to attract top talent to the education field?

As a profession, teachers are probably in more demand than ever before. This demand is not just from an increasing student population, but when teachers themselves realize the great benefits of giving back to their own communities, to the world, they want to get involved in the next generation of learners. Attracting top talent means that learning organizations need to have a welcoming and supportive environment for teachers to grow and thrive. Ongoing professional development and allowing teachers to grow outside of the classroom are critical to attracting top talent.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I actually created one many years ago and it still rings true, “Everything I did before has prepared me for everything I am doing now”…As a lifelong learner I know the importance of education, the educational experience, and having the ability to connect those experiences with real life.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Kobe Bryant. His ability to develop his personal brand through athletics and business is immeasurable. By adapting curriculum to the needs of our program, our marketing students had the opportunity to reflect on the Kobe Bryant brand and study the impact of a dynamic marketing plan.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow The Village School on Facebook @TheVillageSchoolTX, Twitter @VillageVikings or Instagram @VillageVikings.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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