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My objectives:

(1) to develop critical thinking skills: to help students notice, wrestle with, and articulate their own arguments and the arguments of others

(2) to facilitate writing and discussion as modes of inquiry: to teach students to distinguish fact from opinion, understand social and historical context, and examine personal cultural assumptions

(3) to enable students to express themselves clearly: to teach them to use words skillfully, craft sentences forcefully, create continually, and engage in meaningful and respectful dialogue

Classroom Environment

Example: My classes begin with a self-care routine. Each student shares their Nags and Brags -- a challenge and a celebration in their life. In addition to quickly getting every voice in the room, the activity allows us to get to know each other as a community and supports my students’ social-emotional learning.

My goal as an instructor is to create a safe space that allows students to feel comfortable taking an active role in their learning. I strive to create a classroom community defined by collaboration and respect, in which my students build trust by engaging with one another in positive, affirming ways that acknowledge and validate the differences of others. In order to achieve this, I ask a combination of lower and higher order questions that allow students to begin by identifying with a text before moving on to analyze it. I then model positive affirmation by de-emphasizing “rightness” and validating all student contributions. My responsiveness to students, and my use of probing questions, encourages them to continue pushing their thinking by dignifying their initial efforts.

Student Engagement

My teaching emphasizes how the imaginative possibilities of literature allow students to look analytically at society and themselves. I draw from principles of Culturally-Responsive Teaching, which remind us that a students’ language, culture, and life experiences serve as prime sources of prior knowledge, that when activated, can increase students’ personal and academic success. I recognize the importance of students being able to identify themselves in our texts and thus incorporate curricular material that includes diverse representation of conventionally underrepresented groups. I also strive to promote my students’ own senses of agency by providing them with opportunities to express and reflect on their own personal experiences. I emphasize that students challenge their own cultural assumptions to prepare students to be active and responsible participants in society who learn to disagree well and seek to identify and interrupt injustices.

Creating Empowered Learners

Example: In an exploration of how movement communicates meaning, students created tableaus based on their experience with COVID-19. Their images ranged from literal--covering their mouth--to abstract--reaching out for contact, expressing a diversity of lived experience and interpretation. Students then created images that represented how we transition to the world “after” COVID. Through this activity, students were able to use their own experiences to develop kinesthetic literacies and imagine socially-engaged interventions.

Example: In partners, students collaborated to come up with as many ways they could think of that Much Ado About Nothing could have ended in murder. In addition to being a playful and creative activity that encouraged participation, students were able to review their knowledge of the play and build upon it to make connections to Othello that ultimately scaffolded their learning of the generic differences between comedy and tragedy.

I design my instruction to maximize student engagement by employing active learning strategies that promote collaboration and critical analysis. My classes regularly feature partner and group work, which gives students the opportunity to rehearse their ideas while investing in the community of the class and sharpening literacy skills like speaking and listening. I integrate creative and collaborative activities that energize the classroom as a space of critical inquiry. Regular incorporation of ambulatory activities like Gallery Walks and Four Corners increase student participation, just as activities that draw on students’ personal and cultural assets can increase their motivation. For example, I use Tweets to teach how to write summaries and contemporary rap lyrics to make scansion and iambic pentameter more accessible. Active learning positions students as co-creators of knowledge, cultivating more invested, independent learners.

Classroom Environment
Empowering Learners
Student Engagement

Having worked in public, private, and Hispanic-serving institutions, I have gained experience instructing students with diverse learning needs. I incorporate universal design for learning principles that prioritize creating flexible and accessible learning environments. I use a mixed-method approach that combines auditory, visual, and kinesthetic strategies and balances whole class instruction with small group collaboration and independent work to engage students of all learning styles. In my lesson design, I employ the gradual release of responsibility model and scaffold student learning, with early lessons featuring frequent teacher models, which then transition into student-led inquiry and practice, and eventually culminates in students’ application of knowledge. To support language learners and struggling readers, I regularly front-load vocabulary, provide sentence stems, and perform read- and think-alouds. I also “chunk” direct instruction into short segments and divide larger projects into smaller, more manageable pieces. While these strategies were designed to enhance accessibility for students working on Executive Functioning skills, this structure benefits the whole class as it allows for frequent feedback and opportunities for improvement.

Support for Diverse

Learning Needs

Example: Students participated in a Think-Pair-Share with the question, “How did the Witches’ prophecies motivate Macbeth’s actions?” Individual processing time allowed the students to formulate their ideas before sharing them with a partner and to better retain the information they were learning. In discussing with a partner, students with differing learning needs were given the opportunity to clarify misunderstandings and engage with different perspectives. When we transitioned to the larger class discussion, I provided sentence frames to help give students a foothold in participating in critical discourse. Students who were otherwise not yet ready to engage in higher-level critical thinking discussions were given an accessible entry point and also benefited from listening to the ideas of their peers.


Example: A Kahoot quiz revealed that 7 out of 13 students struggled to grasp that a thesis statement should be arguable and not merely an observation. I was able to use this information and design a lesson with concrete examples to clarify the concept and help students achieve proficiency in this area of their writing.

I apply varied assessment methods in order to gather information about student learning and make instructional adjustments to facilitate student growth.

  • Summative Assessments that use rubrics and checklists with criteria co-created by students to monitor student mastery of a standard.

  • Formative Assessments, like quick writes and Exit Tickets, that assess student understanding and allow me to re-teach content as necessary.

  • Informal Assessments that make use of ongoing monitoring and observation to evaluate student comprehension and redirect students to on-task resources.

  • Student-Teacher Conferences that provide a continuous feedback loop that strengthens relationships and places the focus on process, not just product.

  • Self and Peer Assessments that engage students in metacognitive thinking about their own learning as they identify gaps in their knowledge and set and monitor goals for growth.

My approach to classroom management begins with including my students in the co-creation of the norms and procedures for our classroom community. By involving my students in this process, I set expectations that are responsive to their individual identities and position classmates as accountable to one another. When intervention is necessary, I draw from principles of Restorative Justice and Collaborative Problem Solving that prioritize cultivating relationships with students and seeking to understand the underlying causes of behavioral issues. My interventions focus on helping students build the social and emotional skills they need to adapt in challenging environments and recognize the effects of their behavior on others. I also strive to recognize, acknowledge, and work through how my own biases may affect my interventional responses and thus I seek to elevate student voices whenever possible.

Classroom Management

Example: When a student announced he was unwilling to participate in an activity, I assumed it was because he was uncomfortable or embarrassed. I checked in with him privately and asked him to voice his concerns: “No one would ever do this in real life.” Once I understood his difficulty, we were able to come to a solution together: I would make real-world relevance more clear and solicit student connections to the material, and he would commit to making the effort and asking clarifying questions when needed.

Diverse Learning Needs
Classroom Management

Communication + Collaboration

I engage in regular and open communication with families, administrators, and colleagues in order to strengthen instructional and behavioral support for students. I view families as collaborators and involve them in my classes right from the start, introducing myself, my plans and hopes for the term, and specific ways they can help support their student in my class. Throughout the term, I ensure that continued communication includes personalized positive affirmation. When intervention is necessary, I notify families as soon as possible and have conferences that are solutions-focused and result in collaborative action plans. I similarly seek to collaborate with my colleagues, frequently requesting observation and feedback on my instruction and shadowing more experienced teachers to learn from their methods.

Example: During virtual learning, students were struggling to turn in assignments on time. I began sending out weekly class newsletters via email that updated families on our class activities and upcoming due dates. Along with individual check-ins, this enabled me to collaborate with families to better help them and their students keep track of assignments and feel connected to the classroom community.

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