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TEam Member Spotlights

TEam Member Spotlight: Sarah Murphy

What is your role on the TEam?

I am fortunate enough to be part of the Teaching Excellence TEam as an Instructional Coach. This year, I am a full-time Instructional Coach, and, last year, I taught at YES Prep East End while also working as an Instructional Coach.

Where did you study? List all that apply.

I spent my first year of college at Austin College in Sherman, TX (mascot: Kangaroos), then I spent the next fall at the University of North Texas (mascot: Mean Green Eagles), and I finished my educational career at Texas A&M University-WHOOP!! (mascot: Aggies…and awesomeness)

Why are you passionate about education and teacher development?

While studying education at A&M, I saw that teaching is not ‘talking’. Teaching is diagnosing, assessing, specializing, remediating, and connecting. Teaching is the setting of high expectations and witnessing those expectations being met, even surpassed. High expectations propel students, parents, teachers, and administrators towards uncharted territory, unimagined excellence, and unstoppable achievement. Working within the YES Prep and KIPP school systems has allowed me to witness firsthand the innumerable benefits reaped when the highest of expectations pervade. Cultures which foster high achievement cause miracles, miracles such as students improving their ability to read by multiple grade-levels, teachers creating lesson of such depth, complexity, and differentiation that all students receive the exact instruction necessary to excel, and administrators observing, supporting, and propelling students and teachers and entire campuses towards academic, social, and holistic excellence. Only when expectations are sky high do such miracles occur. When working with my students and first-year teachers, I must have high expectations in order for excellent results to occur.

Describe a successful teaching strategy that you used in the classroom or that you frequently recommend to your teachers.

Positive framing works wonders! Pointing out what you see students doing that the rest of the class should replicate instantly builds culture and an atmosphere of clear expectations. YES Prep and KIPP promote this strategy, and it instantly improves classroom culture. Students must feel safe if they are to take academic risks, and teachers can build this safety through the continual usage of positive framing. Consistently utilizing positive framing while speaking to students has changed the way in which students respond not only to me but also to the challenges which I present to them in the classroom, which makes positive framing oh so very worthwhile.

If you had to describe your work on the TEam in three words, what would they be?

Energizing. Challenging. Rewarding.

What advice would you have for an educator that aspires to become an instructional leader?

Observe other teachers and implement what you see. Ask for feedback in your areas of growth. Through demonstrating that you desire to learn and grow just as much as you are asking your students to learn and grow, you are positioning yourself to become a powerful member of any educational leadership team.

When you are not working on closing the achievement gap, what do you enjoy doing?

Creating amazing (some might say ‘horrible’) puns is one thing which brings me joy! I also enjoy walking through the lovely (and there ARE lovely) parts of Houston, attending live music events, participating in and cheering on the amazing art of karaoke, playing (and WINNING) pub trivia, and enjoying delicious food at a great restaurant or in my kitchenJ Days not spent closing the achievement gap are successful when they include sunshine, friends and family, smiles and laughter, and cheese…cheese is GREAT.

Which TE-shirt is your favorite and why?

The green ‘I’m Kind of A Big Deal; I’m a Teacher’ shirt is my favorite! Green is my favorite color, and I like the sloganJ The I Heart TE shirt is delightful as well, and our newest shirt is a winner with its fun slogan: “Stay Humble. Stay Hungry.” TE churns out adorable shirts, some might say they are ‘TE’-riffic!



3 thoughts on “TEam Member Spotlight: Sarah Murphy

  1. Congrats on your latest trivia when, Sarah! I hear you’ve won two weeks in a row!

    Posted by Ronda Powell | June 13, 2012, 4:26 pm
  2. Congrats on your team’s latest trivia win, Sarah! I hear you all have won two in a row!

    Posted by Ronda Powell | June 13, 2012, 4:27 pm


  1. Pingback: The Day that I Almost Cried and/or Vomited in Front of an Army of Adolescents « The Teaching Excellence Program - November 19, 2012

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