UMKC Alumna First Year Teacher’s Advice for Success

UMKC Institute for Urban Education prepped her for teaching, classroom management, commitment and fun
Tanya Jones, UMKC alumna

Tanya Jones knew she wanted a career that enabled her to be a part of something bigger than herself.

“I wanted to be a part of shaping young children’s minds and laying the foundation for generations to come,” Jones says. “I had many teachers who encouraged and guided me to become a better student, and coaches who taught me important lessons about being on a team.” 

An alumna of Westport High School, Jones came to the University of Missouri-Kansas City Institute of Urban Education because she wanted to partner with families to ensure their children succeed academically, socially and emotionally.

“I wanted to be a role model for students who did not have that in their lives.”

As part of the UMKC curriculum, Jones was a student teacher at the Academy for Integrated Arts (AFIA) in Kansas City. She says it was a great opportunity to experience the culture of the school, understand what it takes to make a school run and see the benefits of teachers and staff who really look out for each other.

“It was a great experience. They welcomed me with open arms.”

In addition, her cooperating teacher allowed her to be hands-on in the classroom.

“She was warm and welcoming, and was a great role model for someone like me, who is fresh in the field, to see what teaching is like on a day to day basis.” Jones says.

Jones learned a lot from student teaching.

“I learned classroom management skills, how to lesson plan and to never take things personally. Now I understand a student’s behavior is telling me something and it’s my job to proceed in a way that will benefit the student.”

Even though she’d done her student teaching there, she was nervous when she received a call from AFIA to set up a job interview.

“I was excited and nervous at the same time. We’d done role playing and acting out scenarios in class at UMKC, but I’d never had an interview like that before. I put my best foot forward and then I got a call that they wanted me to teach at AFIA.”

On her first day she was nervous, but confident.

“I knew that UMKC prepared me for my first day and the years to come. I was excited to implement what I’d learned in the classroom and student teaching.”

Jones found that she had made a good career choice. She loves building relationships with her students and their families. In addition, she received the Outstanding Beginning Teacher Award from the Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

With her first year behind her, she has some advice for people who want to be teachers.

“Go slow to go fast. Don’t take anything personally,” Jones says. “Have fun and the intention to build a strong foundation in your classroom. A strong classroom culture will develop positive habits. Make sure you enjoy being around kids, and that you have enough patience for them and their families. It’s better to keep an open mind and be ready to lead.”

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