Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Marionette Fennell

Grade: 3–4

Location: Boston, MA

Setting: Urban

Years Teaching: 9

What has been your biggest surprise about teaching?

I've always had high expectations for my students, and I probably always will. However, in some cases there are students with whom I have used many different strategies to teach skills and/ or concepts, with little success. Even though the child would be learning, the rate of learning would sometimes be below expectation or different than like age students. While I understand that learning styles vary, I wasn't quite ready for the reality that a student still may not be learning on grade level by the end of the year. That was my biggest surprise. If a child had not mastered the skills, I would blame myself. However I have been finding out little by little that some students may always be slow learners or have gaps, because of a variety of reasons. Even though I have that reality to face I will continue to have high expectations for my students and put 100% into their development toward the future.

How do you know when it's time to change your approach?

I know it's time to change my approach in a hands-on Science/Math lesson by the way the students behave. When they are not engaged anymore, discipline problems begin to escalate and the students are more focused on each other than the activity—that's usually my cue. When the students are engaged and excited, asking and answering questions, predicting, talking to each other and challenging themselves to find out more in a steady flow, then I feel I should continue in that direction. Sometimes I'm not so sure what my next move should be. Many times the students are the ones who come up with the ideas spontaneously, or I collaborate with fellow educators. Nevertheless I usually get my indicators from the students regarding changes of approach.

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