What is your name and what role you play in education?
Answer: My name is Nycole Bradshaw. I’m a middle school math educator at Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences. I am K-6 certified, who’s to be K-8 certified once I finish taking the practice tests later on in a couple of weeks.
How long have you been in education?
Answer: I will be going into my 9th school year. I started out as a technology specialist because I was highly qualified for the position. Then I went through my teacher Residency program and taught third grade for three years. I taught fifth grade for a year and just finished teaching sixth grade for 2 years. I love teaching third grade. They weren’t too young and they weren’t too old. I was right there in the middle of an elementary education where I felt the students were coming out of that primary age of K-2. They were still at that eight year old age where they still felt like they needed you as the educator. They were still growing into who they were. They weren’t young kids and they weren’t old enough to not need you anymore. If I had my way, I would have taught third grade for longer than three years. Other people saw in me that I didn’t see in myself at the time, that I had a good thing with the older students. So that’s how I ended up teaching in high school.
Why do you think education is important?
Answer: Education is always an important factor in people’s lives. You can teach and learn from anywhere outside of the school houses. A school building is just a brick-and-mortar. It’s all about what you pour into your students. Even though I just teach 6th grade math, that’s not all that I pour into students every single day. Especially times like now, it’s important to be an educator with a voice as well as a listening ear. Kids are going through a time where they are experiencing a pandemic and blatant racism at the forefront. They have two pandemics going on right now. I am there for my students in any capacity, they need. A lot of times kids just need to vent to someone to hear what they’re trying to say, without a response. Kids just want to be heard. I just want to be that person that is always a listening ear for students. I let them know that I am an educator, who is also a learner myself. I’m a lifelong learner. I’m not someone who thinks that I know it all and have all the answers. I let my students know that as well.
What do you love most about your role in education?
Answer: I love being in the classroom. A lot of times people think that educators should only spend so much time in the classroom and most of the work happens behind the scenes and administration. But for me, I love being in the classroom. I love being with the students every single day. No Day is the same and that’s the beauty in education. You won’t get run down by the monotony of the work because the work is not the same everyday. If anything else, I love to be in the classroom with the kids. I love being hands-on with them. Yes, behind the scenes making decisions is necessary but students also need to see people in front of them that look like them, a black woman, and an educator who cares.
What is the best advice you have received about impacting the education sector?
Answer: I received a lot of advice. Mainly, the consistent thing that I’ve heard is to observe but don’t be afraid to step in when necessary. You can only sit back and watch for so long before people go in a direction that you don’t believe in. Always be a listening ear as well. As I stated before you don’t know it all and be willing to be teachable.
What advice would you give the younger generation about their education?
Answer: Take your education seriously. A lot of times we hear that negative behaviors are sparks because students are bored, they don’t understand, or their not being challenged enough. So take your education seriously. If you find yourself being bored, voice yourself and say that you’re board. Bring ideas to the table. I know the younger kids may not be able to do that, but I’m not going to limit them at all. We still ask them. You never know, people can surprise you at any age. I just want to make sure that you’re always taking your education seriously. Be involved with your education. Be okay with not knowing what you want to do. I changed my career path many times, not just in my head, but also along the journey. I just said it wasn’t for me and that’s okay. Be okay with liking multiple things. Put your hands and multiple hats on and see what you like to do. Don’t think that your education is only depending on what people expect from you, but expect even higher from yourself.
Interview By Keena Day
Currently, I am a full-time licensed math educator. I have been given the tremendous opportunity to work with and learn from other experienced teachers, develop and practice differentiated instruction including planning & classroom management. These foundational skills have grounded my desire to create student thinkers as well as problem solvers. In addition, students recognize me, whether they are in my classroom or not, as someone who is passionate and caring about everyone in the school. This is what culturally responsive teaching means to me.
As a leader of academic gains, Hill Campus of Arts & Sciences – Denver Public Schools, my expertise is in elementary education and middle school math education.