What do you do to engage your students? What makes your classroom unique?
Every day I meet the kids at the door with a positive attitude. Our classroom reflects an environment where student interests are valued and their ideas are respected. This builds a relationship of mutual respect that allows students to feel safe and ready to learn in our classroom. I encourage students to ask questions and investigate their "wonders" so that every day, they are excited about learning. Most importantly, I try to promote goal setting and having FUN!
Why do you think it's important to teach the way you do?
I focus on building respect between my students and me. They need to trust that they will come to our classroom and feel that their voices are being heard. This is the foundation for creating a classroom of learners. Most importantly, I place an emphasis on being kind and respectful both in and out of school. I feel that my job is to promote learning the academic content, but also to build contributing members to our community. I want the learning that takes place in our classroom to be transferable to their real life experiences. I have also been fortunate to directly collaborate with a 2nd grade special educator in the past, and currently work with a 3rd grade special educator which has made a great impact on my teaching. Through this opportunity, my own practice has improved and our students have been able to learn in an inclusive setting.
What do you feel is the most exciting thing about teaching?
I get excited to come to work every day because each day is a new beginning. My job involves new learning built from prior knowledge and experiences, and I love to see students making these connections. Currently, I'm also very excited to continue my learning in how to use technology to transform the instruction in my classroom.
For the past 5 years, my daughter has been a 3rd grade teacher in Vermont, and I value our collaboration when we dissect the Common Core Standards and share ideas on how to present the curriculum. She encourages me to try a lot of new things each day and throughout the school year, particularly related to technology and math instruction.
What singular lesson plan, activity, assignment or experiment do you return to year after year because of its "spark" factor with you and/or your students?
I LOVE science. I particularly enjoy the hands-on activities in our rocks and minerals unit and seed to seed investigation. Kids enjoy the hands-on inquiry experience and following the scientific method with their peers. They are excited to ask questions and then seek the answer through an actual experiment. In our rocks and minerals unit, students have the opportunity to complete a variety of field tests to identify a given mineral. I enjoy seeing them apply their higher order thinking skills to recognize patterns throughout the field study. They are engaged in the activity, work collaboratively with their peers, and communicate their findings both written and orally. They are always proud to share their discoveries which brings me back to the excitement of those new connections being made in our classroom.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
I grew up in Speculator, NY which is a small town in the Adirondacks. I graduated from Wells High School in a class of only 32 students! I completed my undergraduate work at SUNY Empire State College and earned my Master's Degree through SUNY Plattsburgh.
I've been teaching since 2002, so for 14 years. I've been at GFSD for all 14 years, but across several different buildings and grade levels. Before teaching in the district, I was a special ed. TA at Sanford St. School for several years while I went back to school to pursue my degree in education. Prior to teaching I worked in the banking industry as a mortgage loan underwriter.
Although I love all of the third grade science units, my favorite unit to teach is probably multiplication. I like that students build their multiplicative reasoning through modeling over the course of third grade.