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Teacher Spotlight – Shayla Matthews

I’m Daya Cozzolino, and I’m honored to introduce you to one of the tremendous teachers I work with, Shayla Matthews. Shayla consistently builds strong relationships with her students and is always willing to do whatever it takes for them to succeed. Read below to learn more about the great things going on in Shayla’s classroom.

What organization do you work for?

YES Prep

What grade-level and subject do you teach?

6th grade science

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

B.A., Psychology – Texas Tech; M.A., Counselor Education – Texas Tech

What attracted you to teaching?

My first experience was teaching English in China. Initially, I was incredibly challenged and lacking skill, though I desperately wanted to improve. As time passed, the rewards of the job became more apparent, and then I was hooked!

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

Transforming the lives of students is a magical experience. Additionally, students teach me and, in turn, have changed my life. The most difficult part of teaching, especially in middle school, is the emotional highs and lows. Every day is a crazy roller coaster ride.

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

I recently became very serious about 100%. I have employed this strategy in the past when giving instructions, but I have now expanded this to everything I do in class. Doing so has allowed me to address early indicators of misbehavior, use time wisely, and increase student engagement.

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

I love to go to yoga classes, read, spend time with my wonderful fiancé, Chase, and our dog, Winston, travel (even if it is just to Dallas or Austin), and I recently started meditating.

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

As I wrap up my time in TE (I started the program last January as I was hired mid-year), I think the three words that sum it up are “BIG CHANGES HAPPEN.” When I think back to where I was in the classroom last January versus where I am now, I am astonished. I would never have been able to get here without TE and my incredible coach, Daya.

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