March 04, 2016 15:26 Age: 2 yrs

Meet Our Team & Family: Tanya Kolb

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Tanya Kolb has been a teacher at AF Bushwick Elementary School for nine years, where she currently teaches first grade. We sat down with Tanya to learn more about her experiences.

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I grew up in Miami—both of my parents are Cuban. Even though I come from a family of teachers, I wasn’t totally sure I wanted to be a teacher myself. But then I studied teaching in college and realized it was exactly what I wanted to do. I taught for a few years at a district school in East Harlem before coming to AF.

What advice would you give to a first year teacher?

I think you need to have an open mind. Nobody is perfect—I’m a good teacher, but I’m still learning, even after all these year. Having that open mind—you are doing this for the kids, you need to set aside your feelings and think about getting better—that’s really important.

What keeps you going day in and day out?  What's your motivation or inspiration that you tap into when you need a little push?

The students—they are so funny! I love to see the academic, behavioral and social growth they make in one year. They come in knowing so much from kindergarten, and it's amazing to see how much more they learn by the end of first grade.

One of the big things my students do is encourage each other. We have a girl in class who is very shy—she doesn’t volunteer very often. But recently, I asked a question, and she raised her hand and came up to the front of the room. One of the other kids took her hand and held it to comfort and support her. That was really sweet

What "special sauce" do you bring to your classroom?  

I've always had the philosophy that every student can learn. I form a relationship with my kids. I treat them as little humans—I expect a lot from them, and they know that I mean business. But at the same time, it’s so important to me to encourage them to be who they are.

What does the future hold for you?  Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?

I love the classroom and don't ever want to leave. So in five to ten years, I see myself teaching first grade. At AF, we know what we need to work on to get better, and our kids are doing amazing things, and I want to be a part of that.


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