I’m Amanda and I’m exciting to be writing for The Elementary Helper. I hope that you find some of the things I write about helpful and relevant to your own classroom experience. To begin, let me tell you a little bit more about myself and what I loved about teaching and a small sample of topics that I’ll be writing about.
Teaching wasn’t something that I planned on doing. As a history and theology major, I never imagined elementary education as a path for me but when my aunt suggested I try substitute teaching after college, “until I found something permanent,” I became hooked and teaching became something permanent. I fell in love with the kids immediately. I loved the way I saw them learn, I loved how they made me laugh and I loved how they kept me on my toes all day, everyday that the days just flew by. It was exhausting but it didn’t feel like work when I was with a class.
My first year of teaching was a rough and rewarding one but it made me learn a valuable teaching lesson and helped me learn a lot about something I love talking to fellow teachers about: Classroom Management.
Classroom management is one of the topics I will be writing about because it’s a crucial element to any learning environment. My first year of teaching was as a long-term substitute for a second grade class on the Southwest side of Chicago. I learned on a trial by fire basis. I didn’t know anything about teaching but quickly realized that before I could get any real teaching done, I had to get the class in order first. What I learned that year and in the years since, and what I hope to share with you in future posts, is that classroom management comes down to:
- Classroom Set-up
- Rules (not too many!)
- Experience (Student experience, not teacher experience)
After my first year of teaching, I moved to New York to join the New York City Teaching Fellows.In my time here, I continued to nurture my love of teaching and became passionate about a few more things. One of them is Interdisciplinary teaching.
As a third and fourth grade teacher, one of my favorite times of the year was the school’s end of year content fair. It was a great opportunity to show off student learning, have the kids present their work, and invite parents and the community to see what we do on a daily basis. Interdisciplinary learning is a fantastic way to teach, as it provides access to content for all students because they are experiencing it throughout the whole day. They are building and using their vocabulary and knowledge around a topic in all subjects. Interdisciplinary units were always my favorite to teach and I look forward to sharing tips on this kind of teaching in the future.
As an elementary teacher, we spent a lot of time on ELA. At all of the schools I taught in, there were 3 periods of ELA instruction to 1 period of math. Since I was only teaching 1 period of math, I knew that period had to be super well planned because I didn’t have that much time. That work led me to teaching math through rich tasks, discussion and breaking away from the textbook.
I loved teaching math this way because it made student discussions authentic and incredibly rich. It was amazing hearing my students (even the struggling learners) discuss and really reason through the math. It took the emphasis off getting the right answer to please the teacher and placed it on working through and getting the math within the problems.
This is only a peek into three topics I’m looking forward to writing about in the future but I can’t wait to share my experience and tips around other things like: Co-teaching, interactive notebooks, number talks, read-alouds, differentiation, Universal Design for Learning, and more.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my experience and what I’ve learned about teaching and I would love to hear from you too! Feel free to leave your stories and questions in the comments section. I’m so happy and lucky to be a part of this team and a part of this new learning community.