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Teacher Spotlights

Teaching Excellence Teacher Spotlight: Jocelyn Thomas

What organization do you work for?

YES Prep NORTH FOREST “Da Forest”!!!

What grade-level and subject do you teach?

11th grade U.S. History

Where did you attend college and in what did you major? List all that apply.

I attended Smith College (Northampton, MA) where I majored in Afro-American Studies and minored in Women’s Studies.

I also attended University of California (Los Angeles, CA) where I received my M.A. in Women’s Studies (with a focus on U.S. Women’s history in 19th and 20th Century).

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

The best part of teaching is changing lives. It’s the challenge of every day trying to get my students to understand why the past is so important to their future. It forces me to think about all the things I love about history in new ways. That challenge is what keeps me here and also what makes things rough at times.

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

I got this from an ACP Day: I started having timeline games in my classes where after we’ve discussed the order of events related to a topic, I have my students race each other in small teams to see who can put the events in the correct order. In order to introduce the order of events I use different techniques. A fairly successful attempt was creating a “script” where students played one of the European nations involved in World War I. The script involved their characters getting into fights with each other as a metaphor for the escalation of the war in its first year. I knew it was successful, because when the students were playing the timeline racing game they were quoting parts of their script to remind each other which event should go in which order.

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

Enthusiasm, Determination, Challenge

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

I am a media consumer primarily: TV, music, film. I listen to music and have spontaneous dance parties in my apartment. I try to go to shows and see art around Houston as much as possible. In 2013, I’m taking up a challenge to visit every museum in the Houston area at least once (there are at least 20.) I love a good museum trip. I am an avid fan of my alma mater, and I do a lot of alum volunteering for Smith in various organizations. I also am attempting to continue to pursue my academic career by submitting proposals to conferences, planning out research projects for the summer months, and writing a little bit at a time.

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

Education =Opportunity + Freedom

Education was a transformative space for my life. I know that it can be for others. I continue to believe that educational access and attainment is the defining social justice issues of our current times. I also believe that education is about more than what happens in school buildings and that the process of engaging in critical thinking can open up worlds of possibility and freedom for any and all who can pursue it.



One thought on “Teaching Excellence Teacher Spotlight: Jocelyn Thomas

  1. There are over 50 museums in Houston 🙂 Love ya!!!!

    Posted by Paloma Contreras | May 2, 2013, 12:51 pm

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