English Teacher Strives for a Relationship with Her Students, Even at a Distance
By Leslie Cranford, Media Relations Coordinator
Jessica Byrd is a TTU K-12 instructor for English I, II and III. She works with the international Brazil program and the domestic English program. She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex with her husband, Jason, who is a counselor and also an astronomy and chemistry instructor at TTU K-12. They are the proud parents to Samuel who is 5 years old and Jack who is 2. Jessica grew up in Texas and attended Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls for her bachelor's degree in Education. She also has her master's degree in Information and Librarianship from the University of North Texas. Before joining TTU K-12, she taught freshmen and sophomore English in public schools for several years. Jessica is now a stay-at-home mom and is excited to continue working with TTU K-12 and her new students.
How long have you been an instructor with TTU K-12? How long have you been an educator prior to TTU K-12?
"I have been an English instructor with TTU K-12 since 2012. I taught ninth and 10th grade for 3 years prior to coming to TTU K-12. My teaching position at TTU K-12 has been such a blessing. It has given me the opportunity to continue to do what I love (teaching) and also stay home with my children."
What subject(s) do you teach at TTU K-12? What other subjects do you have a background in teaching?
"I teach the English I, II and III courses for the Brazil international program and the stateside students. I also instruct the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament (HSNTENG) course. While I have never had the opportunity to work as a librarian, I also have a master's degree in Information and Librarianship."
What motivated you to become an instructor with TTU K-12?
"It was all rather unexpected. I spoke with the TTU K-12 executive director at a friend's wedding, and he mentioned the need for teachers. I told him I was very interested, and the rest, as they say, is history. Teaching here allows me the opportunity to be home with my children while they are young, and continue to do what I love, which is teach."
What is your teaching philosophy for the classroom? In other words, what belief guides your instruction?
"It is my belief that every student can reach their full learning potential, with high expectations, the necessary support, and a caring atmosphere and environment. This happens when I as the instructor am available to the student and provide clear instruction and guidance. I provide easy- to-understand and detailed feedback for assignments so that students are aware of areas needing improvement. In all honesty though, I learn from the students as much as they learn from me."
What do you believe is the most rewarding part of being an educator?
"I love being a piece of the puzzle for students to reach their life goals and dreams. Without an education, it is difficult to do this for most people. When I see a motivated student work really hard and pass a course, I feel incredibly rewarded because I know I played a small part in that student becoming one step closer to achieving their dreams."
What is the most challenging part of teaching online students and how do you overcome that challenge?
"The most difficult thing about teaching online students is that we miss the benefits of having a face-to-face relationship like teachers in a traditional classroom. I have mostly been able to overcome this hurdle by corresponding with my students through email on a regular basis and being available to them every day, and even on the weekends. That is one advantage of an online, work-at-your-own-pace school. A student can complete lessons at the pace and time that works best for him or her. If a student sends me an email with a question on a Sunday morning, there is a really good chance I respond back to that student by that afternoon."
What is your personal piece of advice, as an educator, that you would offer any student?
"Teachers are here to help you. Do not be afraid to send us messages with concerns or ask questions when you encounter a lesson that has you stumped. Being available and helping students understand content is one of the reasons we chose this career path in the first place. So ask away!"