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Teacher Spotlight – Ashley Westhaver

I’m Jaclyn McCormick, and I’m excited to introduce you to one of the teachers I work with, Ashley Westhaver.  Ashley shows real strengths in lesson planning and student engagement, especially the way that she seeks out innovative ways to get students excited about science, like having her 7th graders dissect a brain!  Read below to learn more about the great things going on in Ashley’s classroom.

What organization do you work for?

I work for Spring Branch ISD.

What grade-level and subject do you teach?

I teach seventh grade science!

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

I received my Bachelors of Science in Animal Science from California State University, Chico. Currently, I am working on my Masters of Science in Educational Studies from Johns Hopkins University.

What attracted you to teaching?

There are many reasons I decided to become a teacher. The notion that the work I do every day has a positive impact on our country’s future generations is very humbling and motivational.  I hope I inspire my students to change the world….or at least Houston!

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

The best part of teaching is building relationships with students and seeing how those relationships strengthen the culture in your classroom. The most difficult part of teaching is finding time to get everything done, and becoming content with a never-ending To-Do list.

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

I use fist-to-five almost every day to gage how well my students understand new key points. By taking a moment to check the entire class’ progress I can quickly reflect on if my lesson has stuck with students before moving forward. This has impacted student achievement because I receive immediate feedback on my students’ confidence of a topic. I no longer wait for the exit ticket to determine if my students comprehended the lesson or not–I check in along the way. Doing this has dramatically improved our exit ticket and assessment scores.

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

Since I am new to Houston, and Texas for that matter, any free time I come across I love spending it exploring, sightseeing, and trying new things.

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

Comradery. Insightful. Spirited.

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