July marks the one-year anniversary of Valorie Kruger Consulting LLC! The business might only be a year old, but it has been over twenty years in the making. In this blog post, I am going to reflect upon the journey which led to the formation of the business as well as lessons learned.
My career in education began as a substitute teacher while in college. Not only did that year and half give me experience in classroom management and lesson delivery, but I also gleaned many ideas on classroom setup. My first full-time classroom position, as a first-grade teacher created my knowledge of early literacy instruction. I had district support via training sessions and peer support through modeling and coaching. This experience helped me to value the role of a mentor throughout my career.
I eventually taught at the second, fourth, and fifth grade levels. My take away from these experiences was students still had the same needs, desires, and struggles only their physical size got bigger. The lessons learned from working with striving first-grade readers served as an asset when working with older students and their reading struggles. My experience had equipped me with the skills to help them be successful.
The next road led me to the position of elementary Gifted and Talented teacher. In this role, I learned the value in understanding students’ social-emotional needs. The entirety of my career has been working on Title 1 campuses, so I thought I had a solid knowledge of a students’ needs as based upon Maslow’s work. When working in my classroom, away from the regular classroom setting, the students had the opportunity and time to be themselves verses having to fit in with their peer group. What I learned was the amount of pressure a high performing student places upon him/herself to keep achieving at that level.
After eleven years as a teacher, I left the classroom to become a Reading Instructional Coach. The reading content knowledge and coaching training I received in preparation for this job was phenomenal. Many of those practices learned I still utilize today. This role taught me teachers need just as much support as student in their quest for continuous improvement.
I began my thirteenth year of education in a new state and returned to be a classroom teacher. Despite having a solid foundation in instructional best practices, I still had to learn all new curriculum standards as well as the operations of a new district. Even though I was a veteran, there was times I felt like a novice while navigating new procedures and policies. This experience taught me the importance of supporting veteran teachers and not just those new to the profession.
Next, I took the fork in the path which led me into administration when I became a district level Literacy Specialist. No longer did I have a home school as I supported teachers on thirty-four campuses. In this position my lens for viewing issues expanded as I focused not only on each school but on the district as a whole. I saw how the needs on many campuses were similar, thus learning the importance of relationship building of staff between many schools. More importantly, prior to starting this job I gave birth to my first child. The role of mother changed me as an educator because I now had first-hand experience with the heart strings of trusting a child with others.
My final “full-time” employed position was Dean of Instruction at a TEA Identified Title I Focus School, which means our school was endangered of failing. The challenge of increasing students’ success while growing teachers was incredible. The joys when the students performed well were just as emotional as the times when we did not do as we had expected. During my tenure as Dean, I had my second child and truly learned the struggle between balancing family and career. It was this conflict which charted the course for the current path in my journey.
As a consultant I am both an educator and a mother. Blogging gives me an opportunity to bridge these roles together. In no way am I the perfect time manager, nor do I have complete balance in my life; however, my two passions—family and education—are not in constant conflict with each other. Being a small business owner, I am learning so much about entrepreneurship. As I reflect upon the past year, I celebrate everything which went well and look to improve the areas which I only have a little understanding. The growth curve is exciting!