Student Spotlight: Madhura Jagadish
5 Questions for Madhura Jagadish
1. What was your path to become a teacher?
When I was little, my sister and I would play school together - of course, being the older one, she got to be the teacher! But it was always a passion of mine. I went to college in India, worked for a bit, got married, and raised my two daughters. My children encouraged me to teach, saying I was pretty good at helping them!
After we moved to the States and my kids were a little more grown, I looked into how to become a teacher. First, I worked as a para, then as a sub, and then as a Denver Math Fellow. Several people recommended Relay Graduate School of Education, because of the focus on practice and feedback. I was accepted, and I completed another year as a Math Fellow as well as a Relay resident in Denver Public Schools. Next year, I will be a full time 8th grade math teacher in Aurora Public Schools (closer to my house), and I expect to complete my Master of Arts in Teaching in the spring of 2024!
My dream was to become a classroom teacher. Relay made it possible!
2. What was your role as a Denver Math Fellow and Relay resident like?
As a Denver Math Fellow, I worked with small groups of students who needed support in math. As a resident, I worked for one period a day in the classroom of a mentor teacher - first, observing; then taking on some responsibilities like the Do Now part of the lesson, small groups, etc; and finally, delivering lessons on my own. That’s just one part of the Relay program I really liked - my mentor teacher was amazing, she taught me so many strategies and skills. She would give me feedback every day.
3. What are the most important teaching skills you learned at Relay?
There are so many things I have learned from Relay, I can’t even name them all! But some that come to mind are classroom management, lesson planning (how to create an effective lesson, check for understanding, create a unit plan, and more), culturally responsive teaching, and how to build great relationships with kids. We learned about the importance of reflecting on your own practice to get better day by day.
At Relay, we follow a cycle - teach, practice and get feedback to do better next time. You’re not learning something and then putting it on a paper. You’re actually living it in the classroom.
4. What do you love about being a teacher?
Every part of being a teacher is the best thing! But one of my favorites is when you see the happiness on the students’ faces when you see them reach their goals. For example, some of my students started the year by saying “I’m not good at math.” But as time went on, I could see them thinking “I’m a super hero, I can do this!” I worked with one student in particular who struggled with language, and was having a hard time opening up. So I would sit with him 1:1 to make sure he understood his problem sets. By the end of the year, he was so comfortable in class, he would get up to do work on the board. I’m so proud of him.
5. What advice would you give to others who are thinking about becoming teachers?
If you have a passion for it, if you want to help students, and if you want to make teaching a career, go ahead and do it. If you do a rigorous program like Relay, it’s not easy - you have to be dedicated, organized, and put in a lot of time. But it’s the best decision I made.
Thank you, Ms. Jagadish, for all you do for your students and community!