Since she can remember, Lauren Bajorek ’11 has wanted to be a teacher. Even from a young age, she says, “I forced Barbie dolls, teddy bears, and my little brother to sit through countless ‘lessons’ at my chalkboard.” And when she traveled to Mérida, Mexico, before her sophomore year of high school, she fell in love with Spanish. “So becoming a Spanish teacher was the logical choice,” she says.
She attended Campbell University, where she was a Teaching Fellow and a Spanish education major in the School of Education. Today, she’s in her third year of teaching Spanish at Fuquay-Varina High School. Last spring, her peers there selected her Beginning Teacher of the Year, which honors teachers in their first three years of teaching. “It was such an honor to be nominated by my peers for this award,” Bajorek says. “I pour so much of myself into my teaching that it was nice to be recognized.”
Bajorek spoke to We Are Campbell about her teaching experience.
On her first two years of teaching: My first two years were a blur!
On her third year: My third year has been busy thus far! I have taken on leadership roles within the school, joining Data Committee, teaching Advanced Placement Spanish, and co-sponsoring Student Council. I’m really enjoying becoming more active in the school.
On what she learned from her first two years of teaching: There is definitely a steep learning curve when it comes to teaching! My first year in particular consisted of a great deal of trial and error, as I learned how best to interact with my students. Year two was much easier because I was established at the school, had two semesters of experience, and had an organizational system in place. I was then able to focus more on best teaching practices. This year, year three, my principal has challenged me to work on differentiating my lessons to meet the unique needs of each student.
On what has surprised her as a teacher: Nothing, not even student teaching, prepared me for how mentally, physically, and emotionally draining teaching is. The first year I would come home after 11 p.m. sometimes after working 12-hour days exhausted. Then I’d grade papers and lesson plan some more! That being said, I love my job! I have the opportunity to interact with such talented, interesting young adults. They teach me something new every day, which is awesome.
On her favorite teaching moment so far: There is nothing like seeing my students embrace what we are doing. I love it when they take what we learn and run with it, using their Spanish outside of the classroom. I’ve had students write poetry in Spanish, start listening to Spanish music, converse with random Spanish speakers, and go on mission trips to Latin America. When they come back to tell me about their experiences, I literally cannot stop beaming.
On the best teaching advice she has received: One afternoon, as I was running on empty and the bags under my eyes were taking over, some very wise, more experienced teachers told me to go home. They encouraged me to make time for myself on a weekly basis. I literally began writing in “me time” in my planner. Whether it was dinner with friends, a bubble bath or a manicure, it allowed me to take a step back from school. I found myself to be a much happier and more refreshed teacher. In year three I still make sure I am doing this!