One In A Million Feature Questions
Name: Cristine Bartoletti
School: Madrid Neighborhood School
How long have you been a teacher?
I have been an educator for 22 years.
What made you get into the teaching profession?
It sounds corny and cliché, but I love kids and I wanted to empower children to pursue their dreams. In 1988, I left my corporate job and waitressed at a local eatery. One day a school principal from the nearby school brought a group of students in for lunch. When I finally got to her to take her order, she asked me if I had ever thought of being a teacher, and I had. She invited me to visit her school and I knew the minute I walked through the front door that I had found my “next step”. I went back to school a few months later and received my teaching certification and I haven’t looked back!
Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?
My seventh grade Biology teacher, Ms. Moore. She possessed a loved for Biology that was contagious and by the end of the year we all loved biology. She was patient when we struggled and she allowed us to have the productive struggle in our challenges so that we would relish the success when it was achieved. She never gave up on us. You knew that she cared and that she wanted you to be successful.
It was because of her that I continued on with the sciences my final year of high school and my first year of college.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?
Teacher Recruitment and Retention
In October 2022 there were more than 2,500 unfilled teaching positions. Our teaching shortage is putting a strain on teachers and administrators. Quality teachers are leaving the classroom because of workload, class sizes, lack of professional development and mentoring and they do not have the resources necessary to do their job.
How do these issues affect your day to day?
Fortunately this does not impact me significantly because our district has a plan to recruit and retain teachers. It is for this reason that I have worked in the Alhambra district for my entire teaching career. However, for many of my teacher friends, this is not the case.
What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?
Many teachers spend a lot of their own money on resources for their classroom. We do this because we know it is important. A tax deduction for school supplies reduces the financial strain of purchasing items that we cannot receive through our school or donations.
How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different from reality?
I am going to share this quote from an Arizona teacher on the Education Forward Arizona website that sums it up for me.
One of the most important issues right now is having a quality teacher in every classroom. There’s definitely a teacher shortage. Not everyone can step into a classroom and be a teacher. Handing out teacher certification and saying because you have a degree in something means you are a teacher – it does not. In the 10 years I’ve been in the district that I’m in right now, it’s a deficit for our students.”
Colleges need to prepare their teacher candidates for the realities of life in a real classroom. Meanwhile, school districts need to mentor new teachers as well as provide professional development and support for all teachers.
Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?
Although many teachers find their work rewarding, many are exhausted and stressed. Many teachers, including myself, struggle with understanding all the different learning challenges students may have. Students differ in their memory, concentration, ability to learn and write and demonstrate varied interests in various subjects. In addition, many districts do not provide professional development and support to help teachers continue to learn and grow while they are teaching in the classroom. This coupled with the demanding workload make teaching stressful. It’s discouraging because the teaching profession is the gateway to all other careers.
What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?
Being outside in nature and/or going on a challenging hike.
What are some of the most thoughtful and effective ways parents and the community can show gratitude?
I think getting involved with your local school and seeing how you can lend your talents to support student learning is a great way to show gratitude.
What is your wish for Arizona’s children?
That our children know that they CAN learn! That school is a safe place where students can learn, make mistakes and grow to be anything they desire.
What additional support or supplies do you need in your classroom and who do people contact if they want to help out?
I am trying to teach my students social skills and one of the things we have been working on all year is how to socially play with one another while overcoming conflicts that may arise. I am using board games to do this during our indoor recess time. I would love to have some age-appropriate board games for my second graders to play. Anyone interested in helping out can contact Madrid Neighborhood School.