I’m Tara Byers, and I’m excited to introduce you to one of the teachers I work with, Aryn Rapp. She shows real strengths in reaching all learners, especially the way that she leads small groups with a specific objective in both math and reading. Read below to learn more about the great things going on in Aryn’s classroom.
What organization do you work for?
Spring Branch ISD – Treasure Forest Elementary
What grade-level and subject do you teach?
4th Grade – Self-Contained (yes that is three STAAR-tested subjects, people…)
Where did you attend college and what was your major? List all that apply.
I went to Syracuse University (Go Orange!), with a dual major in public relations and international relations.
What attracted you to teaching?
I realized a lot, if not all, of my academic success in college was largely due to my teachers in high school, middle school, and even elementary school, who pushed and challenged me, which prepared me for the challenges of college. I knew I wanted to give other students a similar opportunity that was provided to me so they can be just as successful, and hopefully a little more, than me.
What is the best part of teaching? What is the most difficult part of teaching?
The best part of teaching is hands down the kids. Every day they never cease to amaze me. In the beginning of the year I was challenging and pushing them, and now they are challenging me (in a good/academic way of course). The most difficult part of teaching so far has been overcoming the large learning curve that is teaching. Not having studied education in college, I knew absolutely nothing coming into this experience. Literally I didn’t even know how to talk to a 4th grader…so needless to say, it has been a learning experience for all involved.
Describe a successful teaching strategy that you use in the classroom. How does this impact your students’ achievement?
Something I challenged myself to this year was to commit to pulling small groups in math every day. I have already been pulling small group in reading for a while, but just recently became consistent in math. I have already seen such a difference in my students. I am able to catch silly mistakes, clear up some misunderstandings, or push my students even further! Now I am no wizard at small group, but one thing I have found that keeps my students and me on track is writing my objectives for the small group on a small white board. This is mainly so I don’t forget to tell the students what our goal is, but it also helps the students switch gears from whatever we just did whole group to what we are doing in small group. There is some sort of magic that happens when you pull students for small group… I can’t put my finger on it but the impact on my students’ achievement is that they are finally mastering ALL objectives!
When you are not working on closing the achievement gap, what do you enjoy doing?
When I am not closing the achievement gap you can find me at the YMCA on 34th Street either dancing it out in Zumba or getting my butt kicked in BodyAttack (yes this is shameless advertising). Never will you find me independently working out. I think I like the feeling of being the student for the change…there is something about being pushed to keep going when all you want to do is quit and go curl up in a corner.
What three words would you use to describe the experience of participating in Teaching Excellence?
Supportive, comprehensive, and my savior (shout out to Tara Byers!).