Annie resides in Frostburg and is a graduate of Beall High School and Frostburg State University. She also has a master’s degree in reading from FSU. She’s been a fifth grade at West Side Elementary for eleven years. During the past twelve years, she has completed the Facilitative Leadership training, presented at the International Reading Association Conference, served on various county committees, and has been a presenter at several county staff development programs She has been a ten-year member of West Side’s School Improvement Team.
How has the way you teach changed over the course of your career? What lessons have you learned?
As I reflect back on the past twelve years in the classroom, I find that I have gone from a content-oriented teacher to a student-oriented teacher. As a beginning teacher, I was really concentrated on content and covering the material. As the years passed, I quickly learned that covering material by the end of the year does not necessarily equate to being an effective teacher. I still let the standards drive my instruction, but I am better able to recognize when I must adapt lessons to best meet the needs of the students. I am also much more empathetic towards my students and what is happening in their lives. Their lives outside of the classroom can directly and indirectly affect their performance in the classroom. I value each student as both a learner and as an individual.
What advice would you give to a teacher who’s starting their first year and feels overwhelmed?
The first year in the classroom can be very overwhelming. Learning the curriculum is only a small part of the job. Checking papers, contacting parents, involving the community, participating in staff development, setting up the classroom, and getting to know your students are just some of the responsibilities of a beginning teacher. Keeping organized will be the key to success. I found it helpful to make a “to do” list each day in my plan book. Divide your tasks over the course of the week, with completing the most important ones first. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. Each school has many resources that can aid a beginning teacher.
What do you think the key has been to your success as a teacher?
The key to my success is that teaching is truly my calling and I absolutely love what I do. I also genuinely care about my students’ emotional and academic progress. I have a passion for knowledge and being a life-long learner. I make it known to my students when I learn something new. It’s important for students to see that learning takes place well beyond their years in school. I also provide my students with a caring, safe, and nurturing environment that allows for individuality and promotes success.
How do you keep your students engaged in the classroom?
Keeping elementary aged students engaged in the classroom can be an arduous task. I can accomplish this by being an enthusiastic learner myself. I model the life-long learning process by continually sharing with my students when I learn something new. A key to successful learning is to model, model, model!
Another key to keeping students engaged is to encourage students to ask questions. By asking questions, students develop a curiosity about what they are learning. Lessons need to contain higher level questioning and activities should be more student-directed with the teacher being a facilitator. The activities and lessons need to be appropriate for the objective that is to be achieved, as well as appropriate for the learner.
I demonstrate that learning is a journey, not a destination.