2016 Blackboard Award Honoree: Nekia Wise

Editor’s note: To read profiles of all 2016 Blackboard Awards honorees, click HERE!

Nekia Wise
Grades 4-5, Science
Beekman Hill International School—P.S. 59

Nekia Wise accepts her Blackboard Award. Photo by Karen Haberberg Photography.

Tell us about some of the special joys and challenges you’ve experienced as a teacher.

There has been great joy in the range of teaching experiences I’ve had throughout the years. Over the course of my teaching career thus far, I have taught Kindergarten, grade 1 ICT, grade 3 ICT, grade 4 ICT, and upper grade science. Teaching within a range of grades has given me great joy and challenged me as well. There has been joy in having an understanding of where kids have come from and playing a crucial role in moving them to where they need to be next with their zone of proximal development. There have been challenges in making decisions to design, modify, and adapt instruction for individual learners with diverse learning styles.

Please share a special project or achievement that you are particularly proud of from this year.

This year, I am particularly proud of the work that I did with grades 4 and 5 that aligned with my school’s instructional focus. For the past two years, we have focused on questioning and discussion techniques and how we pose open-ended questions to extend understanding beyond the surface in all content areas. This year, I designed an inquiry-questioning continuum. Students self-assess and peer assess the level of the questions they pose to set scientific investigations. As a result of raising students’ awareness for the types of questions they ask to guide their learning, they have pushed themselves to make sure their questions lead to extensive work and set purposes for new authentic understanding.

Nekia Wise. Photo by Andrew Schwartz

Over the course of your career, what do you consider one or two of your greatest accomplishments?

One of my greatest accomplishments as an educator was when I taught Kindergarten at a Title 1 SURR school. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, the students were given reading instruction from a basal reading program. I was told: “These students need this kind of structured program in order do well…” During this time, in my own professional learning, I was part of a study group/think tank at Teachers College and I was learning the value of using an open-ended inquiry approach to teaching and learning with students. I designed an inquiry study on the neighborhood 99cent store in my students’ community. They took great ownership of their learning with real world applications.

What keeps you motivated and committed to being a dedicated and hard-working educator?

Students drive me. It’s my responsibility to teach, think, and learn with young people and my colleagues every day. To know that the ways in which my students and I form ideas about the world and problem-solve together will influence their life choices later on is a major factor that keeps me motivated and committed to the profession of teaching.