The school is a system from the top down From Ms. Brantley to principals, to teachers, to students, and parents, of course. I appreciate how the system works here at Friendship. I have enjoyed the journey and the vision.
This is my 7th year here. I taught math, then moved to teach science. I have enjoyed the transition. Now, of course, with science, I can still incorporate math, which I enjoy doing. It’s been seven good years, which is why I’m still here of course. I enjoy working with the kids; they have taken a real liking to science and they have grown by leaps and bounds. They continue to impress me. It’s very encouraging to see how well they do.
Can you share some strategies that have been especially successful?
I communicate to them that everything in science is connected to life: breathing, pulse, heart rate – everything around you, the atmosphere… All the different things we talk about during the course of the year are connected to them personally. This excites them. Hands-on activities are very effective. Some students might not thrive in ELA or math, but they really enjoy the labs. They love putting things together and taking things apart; finding out the “why” and “how.” My strategy is to be hands on and make connections to their lives.
Can you talk more about your journey to becoming a science teacher?
I moved here from Cincinnati, Ohio, where I also taught, but mostly math. I moved to the DC area and transitioned into science, which I have really come to enjoy because of the connection to life. I communicate this excitement to the students; that science is life, everything you see, everything you do is science. Because this subject excites me personally, I transfer that excitement to the kids through my lessons. For the most part, they seem to get it.
What do you like about Friendship, having worked here for seven years?
I have been blessed to have worked on strong teams. The school is a system from the top down From Ms. Brantley to principals, to teachers, to students, and parents, of course. I appreciate how the system works here at Friendship. I have enjoyed the journey and the vision.
Have any of your students expressed an interest in STEM careers or majors?
Oh definitely. At the end of every school year, we complete a college project where students use google slides or create a poster. They research colleges and professions they would like to pursue. Some want to be police officers, some want to be hair stylists, others want to be scientists, engineers or teachers because they like learning. They research to see how many years they’ll need to study to achieve this goal and whether they need to pursue a PhD or medical degree. They’re encouraged by this.
How has your teaching changed since working remotely?
While elements of my teaching are the same, distance learning has forced me to make some tweaks, while remembering students are feeling the effects of the pandemic, too. For starters, I have to chunk my lessons further to make sure students are engaged and able to understand the targeted concept. The need for succinct and engaging experiences has led me to use the 5E instructional model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, and Evaluate) to plan my lessons and help students build their understanding along the way. Students can choose from a variety of ways to demonstrate their understanding. They show their thinking using FlipGrid, Padlet, AnswerGarden, and NearPod, to name a few. You have to be creative!
Additionally, working remotely has allowed me to do more with small group instruction. I provide more personalized feedback to students and I am able to to push their thinking farther. This process has been made possible through the use of breakout “Zoom rooms” and Google Classroom.
Moreover, parents have become more active partners in the work. It feels good to see parents working alongside their children as they join our lesson. The familiar quote, “It takes a village,” is more imperative now than ever.