Used with permission of Tania Kinsel
New to Fairfax County, English teacher Tatiana Kinsel joined the CHS staff this year to teach English 9.
Why did you decide to become a teacher? What interested you?
I can essentially pass on all the knowledge and all of the happiness that I receive from stories. So sort of long story short there, part of the reason I wanted to become a teacher was to be the person I needed in high school and to pass on an appreciation for stories and an ability to write and understand them.
How is it going so far?
This year as a first year teacher has definitely been a trial by fire. I was part of a five year master program which means that instead of getting a bachelor’s degree for four years and a master’s degree in two years, so six years in total, I did the whole thing in five years. So instead of student teaching this past spring, I taught last fall,so more than a year ago now, which was before COVID-19 before all of that.
I learned to teach in person then my first teaching job was all virtual. So it was definitely a learning curve, and then hybrid teaching is its own learning curve. But, there are definitely a lot of rewards that go along with it. I’m getting better at technology. I’m getting better at teaching under pressure and teaching with everything changing all the time. So I’m becoming a better teacher. I’m also becoming quicker and smarter, I hope. At the same time, even in virtual settings and in-person settings, I’m getting to know my students a little better now.
Did you always think you were gonna be an English teacher?
No, when I was really young, I wanted to be a veterinarian and then I wanted to be an artist and then in late middle school and early high school,I wanted to be an astronaut. I was going to study astrophysics, go into the Air Force, become a pilot and then try to become an astronaut. But I am really bad at math,so that kind of barred my way for that. And I realized part of the reason I wanted to become an astronaut was because I liked “Star Trek.” I realized it was more about the stories than the actual space exploration. Even though I started out wanting to be an astronaut, I ended being an English teacher stemming from the same thing that made me want to be an astronaut, which was just a really effectively told story.
Is it harder or easier than you expected it to be?
Yes to both. There are certain things that are harder. When you’re student teaching, a lot of the things you do are passed through your mentor teacher, so I stood up and taught a lot. I graded on my own. But everything I did, I ran by my mentor teacher and asked “am I doing this right? What should I do?” Being a full time teacher, the training wheels are off. So, whenever I make a decision,there are fewer times I can run it through someone before I make it public or teach it. Being reliant on myself is a lot harder, but at the same time I have a lot more freedom to teach the way that I want. Whenever I know what I’m teaching and I design what I’m teaching, I also know what I’m looking for when I’m grading.
Is it fun being an English teacher?
I think so. I think It’s hard sometimes, but I’m doing what I love. I get to work with a lot of different kids and teenagers. I get to see them grow up and become better writers and readers. And I have fun with the stories that we read. I have a lot more flexibility this year because we’re online, so I can teach them books online that aren’t available in our book room, and I have fun reading those stories and picking things out of those stories and just figuring out what makes them tick and how my students can relate to them.