What is your role on the TEam?
I am excited to be joining the Teaching Excellence team as an Instructional Coach for the 2013-2014 school year. I will be transitioning from my current position as a 9th Grade English Instructor at YES Prep North Forest where I also coached Men’s Volleyball and Girl’s Soccer.
Where did you study?
I studied at the University of Virginia in the heart of Charlottesville, Virginia. It is the most gorgeous campus I have ever been on and I had the most formative moments while attending school there.
Why are you passionate about education and teacher development?
I think your eyes would get tired reading my long list of reasons, so I will keep it as short as possible. I have always worked with children in my summer jobs and slowly transitioned from working with those from high income backgrounds to those with low income backgrounds, an experience that made the disparities between the two very apparent. I applied to Teach for America as an exciting way to give back to the country that has given me so much and challenge the status quo I had seen in my work. In my teaching experience, the gains students can make when presented with a strong instructional leader are incredible. I am excited to do my part of ensuring that each student has the chance to have a great teacher, no matter their experience. To go from being responsible for the 80 ninth graders I currently teach to being ultimately responsible for every student of each of my New Teachers will be an exhilarating experience unparallel to anything else I have done with my life. I cannot wait to make sure that every student gets the excellent education they deserve.
Describe a successful teaching strategy that you used in the classroom or that you frequently recommend to your teachers.
I love jig-sawing material. Split your classroom into multiple groups (the number is dependent on the number of items to be taught) and make them responsible for a specific component of your lesson (think: key points). The students in each group will create a creative way to remember the key point through song, dance, picture, hand gesture, something and then teach it to the other students. As they are creating their memorable moment, the teacher circulates and assists students to make sure that their presentations match the expected outcome of the teacher. After presentations, hold the students accountable through checks for understandings.
I love this process because it makes students responsible for their classroom and their education. With a little bit of extra prep work by the teacher to create groups and their materials, students have an active, participatory role in their classroom.
What advice would you have for an educator that aspires to become an instructional leader?
Save everything, get feedback frequently, learn from those on your campus. I still have my materials from when I went through Teaching Excellence. It was a life saver after I graduated from TE to be able to go back and quickly reference that “foldable format” or “Big 6 check list.” Additionally, by getting coached by the instructional team on my campus, I was able to see the best ways to be coached while enhancing my own skills. When I felt comfortable, I would pop into other classrooms and watch other excellent teachers. This gave me the opportunity to see the various teaching styles of various subjects and access the collective brainpower of the instructors on my campus; they had so many great tips and strategies that I could not have originated all on my own.
When you are not working on closing the achievement gap, what do you enjoy doing?
I love being outside! Whether I am running, hiking, reading, or just sitting outside, I think there is so much value to enjoying the freshness that is the outside. I cannot express how happy I am when I am in a place that has never been touched by machinery and the sounds of mankind are obsolete. I know that sounds a little lofty, but it is hard to express how great the outdoors is without it. J
Oh, and I love brunch.
Which TE-shirt is your favorite and why?
I love the “Start Strong. Finish Stronger.” shirts. They are wonderfully applicable to any moment in life. You can always finish stronger than you did earlier in the day, week, year. It reminds me of the continuous push that TE has for itself, its teachers and I should have for myself. I also definitely stole the slogan for my Girls’ Soccer Team….:)