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Teacher Spotlights

Teaching Excellence Teacher Spotlight: Jessica Edwards

What organization do you work for?

I work for Chinquapin Preparatory School

What grade-level and subject do you teach?

I teach 6th grade Social Studies, 7th grade Language Arts, and I co-teach 8th grade Life Skills. I also co-teach high school Performing Arts.

Where did you attend college and in what did you major?

I majored in Sociology at Rice University and graduated in May, 2012.

What is the best part of teaching? What is the most difficult part of teaching?

The best part of teaching by far is the students. I love my interactions with the students. They are fun and make me laugh every day, I learn so much from them, and on days when I am exhausted they energize me. I love when I overhear them repeating something I have taught them outside of class, or I hear them singing a song I made up to help them learn certain concepts.

The most difficult part for me is balancing my life. Chinquapin is a boarding school, and I live on campus, therefore there is a blending of work life and personal life. Because many students board, I have duties outside of the classes I teach so the first semester was a huge life adjustment. Learning how to grade efficiently is still not happening yet. Also, making my own unit plans and unit tests in my first year, determining what material they need to learn, how long it should take them to learn it, and more, has been hard. But to help with everything I have mentioned, I have been supplied with a PLETHORA of resources in people, books, and websites that make it much easier than it could be.

Describe a successful teaching strategy that you use in the classroom. How does this impact your students’ achievement?

Several things have been helpful for me. Overall, the most important strategy is being transparent, when the students feel like they know you and trust you as a person, they will pay attention to you in the classroom. They feel comfortable talking to me outside of the classroom, I mean, they know where I live, so there is going to be a close relationship regardless. Also, knowing their interests especially in pop culture has helped them retain information very well. In Language Arts, I taught them rules for the perfect and progressive tense to the tune of “Call Me Maybe” and they loved it and internalized the information. Also, we have in-class discussions about the use of the word, “ghetto,” and hot topics like gun control so they feel like their opinion and input matters. Lastly, I make sure I personalize the practice sentences they use with their names or with topics that interest them so that they feel like a part of the lesson.

What 3 words would you use to describe the experience of participating in Teaching Excellence?

Challenging, rewarding, progress

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

I love to watch movies, mostly ones that deserve awards. I enjoy having weekend get-togethers with my college friends, going to bible study, and spending time fellowshipping with friends from church.

If you could create a t-shirt with a slogan that represents your philosophy of education, what would it say and why?

“Don’t give up.”

It’s simple and cliché, but it is more directed at the teachers than the students. So often we give up on “difficult” groups, or assume that certain students just won’t “get it” and so we don’t give everyone a fair chance. Often it is because we are not speaking the same cultural language and think that a student has to think like us in order to be seen as intelligent.

I know in my life, my parents did not give up on my siblings or my education and sacrificed greatly to make sure we all became college educated, because every child is worth it.

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