Some of what I love most about first grade is that it is the year that many children go from learning how to read independently to transitioning into chapter books! Right before your eyes, cryptic figures called letters become legible, developed stories. There were years that I was worried that I would find the curriculum boring, or that the year would feel mundane, but every year I am faced with new children, new challenges, and new loose teeth!
Tell us about any special projects or initiatives you are most proud of this year.
This year, we created a restaurant study, in which children were able to learn about the needs and wants of a community, learn about different families, economics, and—most importantly—the importance of interdependence. By visiting and learning about restaurants, first graders were able to design a menu, cook and prepare the food, and, finally, run a fully functioning restaurant for their families. They then donated 100 percent of the money raised, including their tips, to the Food Bank for children in NYC (foodbanknyc.org).
Over the course of your career, what do you consider some of your greatest accomplishments?
During my first years of teaching, I was a participant in and eventually a facilitator of a math program called Math In the City. This program’s goal is to reconstruct the way teachers think about math, so that they become better teachers of math for their students. This program helps teachers provide opportunities for their students to become true mathematicians by exploring problems and forming solutions. This program primed my philosophy about ways children learn in all content areas.
What drives you and keeps you motivated to continue your hard work as a teacher on a daily basis?
My daily motivation comes from the excited, happy children who enter the school. They literally run in every day, ready for a new day of adventure. I am the mother of two wonderful, very different girls. One of my daughters has graduated from NYC public schools and one is currently attending an NYC public school. My motivation comes from thinking about each student as I do my girls, with an understanding that it is my responsibility to arm them with as many tools as I can to prepare them for whatever the future holds for them.
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