A. I teach Kindergarten here at Langley!
Q. How did you become a teacher?
A. I have known I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. My mom was a teacher and a big influence on me growing up. All of my jobs when I was younger included working with kids. I was a camp counselor for years, I taught private swim lessons and also became the coach of a swim team in my home town. When I went to college, I worked hard to get into the teaching program at UCONN. I graduated with an undergrad in elementary education and a masters in educational curriculum and instruction. My first three years out of college, I taught 3rd grade in Connecticut. Then, I came down to DC and began teaching kindergarten at DC Prep, which is a charter school around the corner from here. I taught kindergarten there for four years and really was looking for a chance to find a school that truly supported the whole child and not just academics. That is how I wound up teaching kindergarten here in my 8th year of teaching and I couldn't be happier!
A. Reading has always been a passion of mine. Ever since I was little, I found it very easy to get lost in a book and to this day, I always say that the book versions of stories are always better than the movie versions because I can create better movies in my mind! I bring that passion with me when I am teaching reading. My first goal is always to get students excited to read and to learn to love reading and books. As in any class, there are multiple reading levels that I teach. In order to meet every student's needs, I strategically form small groups that are based on student needs. If one group of students is working on solving words by cross-checking (using the picture and the first sounds in the word, they will form one group. Another group may be working on answering critical thinking questions about the book. I meet with each small group for 15 - 20 minutes per day and that time is very specific to their needs. These groups frequently change as needs change and are based on data from reading tests, anecdotal notes, and informal data when students are reading to me. I really try to weave reading throughout our entire day, so it is part of almost everything we do!
Q. How can parents help their student be enthusiastic about learning to read?
A. The best advice that I can give to parents is to get excited about books yourselves and read every day with your child. It should never be a punishment, but always treated as a special activity! The more excited you are, the more excited they will be. I often suggest setting up a special reading corner, even if it is just a pillow, blanket and stuffed animal in a specific corner to create a little extra magic. Also, try to find books that are on topics that your child really likes. So many children want to learn more about specific things. If you aren't sure, find a day where you have an extra hour and spend time browsing through books at the library together. You are bound to come up with some great books and have some quality bonding time.
Q. Why is socioemotional learning so important for students' success and how do you teach it?
A. Social-emotional learning is the compliment to strong academics. I always have thought about it in a long term sense. We want all of our kids to grow up and be productive members of the community with good jobs to support themselves. How do you get a job? You have to have social skills to get through the interview process. How do you keep that job? You need to know how to work well with others and solve conflicts that arise. This learning needs to start all the way in the lowest grades. Our students need those skills I just mentioned in the long run, but there are many other skills that help them handle the stresses that arise in their lives and at school. Work is very challenging, students need to be able work hard and to persevere when things get tough. Kids needs to learn how to handle big emotions. Emotions can feel overwhelming if you don't know how to handle them. It is our job to help them work through this. In my class, we love conscious discipline! The program is a way of talking to kids and providing them with the tools they need to manage their emotions. We have our brain smart start that helps build our classroom community each day. Then, we move right into a social skills lesson. These lessons are there to fit the needs of the room. Sometimes, they are around how to use our safe place, how to manage emotions, or how to talk kindly to others. The learning never stops at just one lesson though; we build in times throughout the week to practice the skills we learn in the morning.
Q. What do you love best about your job?
A. My absolute favorite thing about my job is helping students reach their "Ah-ha!" moment. There is nothing better than a student who gets over the top excited about finally understanding something they have been working hard at. The pure joy and excitement is the absolute best!