Q&A: English teacher sets goals for next year

English teacher Lacy Long-Goldberg looks ahead to next school year.

Gianna Somrak

English teacher Lacy Long-Goldberg looks ahead to next school year.

Gianna Somrak, Guest Writer

In an exclusive interview, The Paw Print’s Gianna Somrak sat down with Mrs. Long-Goldberg about her upcoming goals for next school year. 

Gianna: How long have you been teaching?

Long-Goldberg: This is my twelfth year.

Gianna: That’s awhile!

Long-Goldberg: Yeah, so I was at the high school for four years, the middle school for five and then now, this is my third year back at the high school.

Gianna: For those 12 years that you have been teaching, do you make it a point to make goals for yourself in order to get better at teaching?

Long-Goldberg: Yeah, for sure! I always set goals! In the beginning, it was really just “survive.” Good teachers make it look deceptively easy but then, you really discover how much work it is and so then, I’ve become more experienced and my goals have become more complex. Now, [since] I know the content really well, my goals have to do with coming up more creative ways to teach it or finding better ways to connect with the students because I think the relationships are just as important as the content.

Gianna: And that’s a very difficult job to do because you have to connect with so many students! In all, how do you believe that these goals have really helped you?

Long-Goldberg: Well, I think goals are always really useful just in terms of giving you a focus and something to work toward. And also, setting a goal that is within your reach but not too easy or not too difficult so that you’re kind of setting yourself up for failure, it helps you kind of set your sights on something realistic. Then, if you always have something to works toward, you’re always moving forward and you don’t get complacent. I always try to improve and get better even if I did something well the first time, I can still make it better and tweak it.

Gianna: That’s very inspiring! On the topic of goals, what are some goals you have for next year?

Long-Goldberg: Well, for next year, I’m teaching a new class to Mayfield High School. It’s AP Research which is the course that comes after AP Seminar. This summer, I’ve got to learn a lot about the course. So, just setting some goals to make sure I’m super organized with the layout and the syllabus of that so that the students can be successful because it’s almost like a mini-thesis that you might do in college, so they have a year-long research project. [I’m] really focused on that and making sure I’m doing the job I’m supposed to with that. And then, I’m also the sophomore class advisor for student council. The past couple of years, we’ve been doing one service project a year. I’d like to do two or three next year, so that’s a goal to get some more service work done besides just fundraising.

Gianna: Are you excited about teaching a new course next year?

Long-Goldberg: Yeah! I’m super excited about it! I think it’s going to be a really good way to synthesize what students have learned in all of their AP classes. And then, I also just think it’s really good in terms of preparing students for what college is going to be like because there is so much freedom and you will have to bring a lot of things that are seemingly disparate together. And I think too, [it’s important in] learning how to write a formal research paper, so with an abstract, with an introduction and your methodology and gathering that research.

Gianna: That would actually be very helpful to a lot of students! This was also your first year teaching the new cross-curricular class with AP World History so, how do you think that’s gone so far?

Long-Goldberg: I think it’s gone well for it being our first year and so, that then makes me think back to the goals question you asked me! I think it’s gone well in ways where I’ve been able to connect the literature to the history, but I think I wasn’t a hundred percent familiar with the world curriculum going into it this year. So now, having almost been a student in Mr. Hughes’s class and he almost a student in mine, I think we will find better ways to connect next year and ways to do that more often. I think it’s gone well, but as always, I think it could be better.

Gianna: A positive mindset is always good! Although, what did you struggle with the most in teaching a new class?

Long-Goldberg: Just finding those connections that would be natural without it seeming too forced for the kids, so finding ways to sort of bring it in that maybe isn’t going to beat the kids heads over with the idea! So, I think that and two, I think we could have had some more assignments where you were getting a grade for both classes. That’s something I want to work towards next year as well: Finding assignments that can double-dip where you get part of a reading/writing grade for English, but then you also get a summative grade for history. And then, I just think making sure that students don’t feel like they were doing extra work that they wouldn’t have had if they didn’t sign up for this class. So, finding that balance of making the students feel like it was an appropriate amount of work.

Gianna: And that comes with more communication and planning between you and Mr. Hughes!

Long-Goldberg: Yeah, for sure! For sure!

Gianna: So, overall, what motivates you to be a better teacher?

Long-Goldberg: I would say the students, for sure! Like, knowing the potential influence I have on a student’s life where they maybe love school because of something that I do or they could hate school because of something that I do. So, I want to have that positive influence and be a teacher that a student could remember, so just that relationship with the students and making a lasting impact. Yes, it’s for the students, but also I get joy out of that, like how people talk about volunteer work, you do it to help others but you get that self-satisfaction from doing it as well!