School: Sylvanie Williams College Prep
Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
What made you want to become a teacher?
I had some really inspiring teachers in high school. I was in the International Baccalaureate program at my high school, and I had some really amazing English and History teachers that inspired me. When I was in school to become a teacher, I majored in history education and English education because of those teachers I had in high school. I had done my student teaching in a high school but my last semester of student teaching, I did a semester in New Zealand where I was student teaching in a kindergarten classroom and thought 'this is what I want to do.' In New Zealand, I realized that elementary was where I wanted to go. I ended up putting teaching elementary education on hold for 6 years until I moved to New Orleans.
What are some strategies that you've used to keep energy up on your team?
The protocols that Leading Educators uses are really effective. I am someone that can get off task really easily and I find that those work protocols have been super effective for me as a way to keep myself on task and engaged. Everyone at my school knows that I have become a protocol queen. We've also given opportunities for a lot of peer work so that the teachers can work together and get really involved with each others work. I think looking at someone else's work and being responsible for helping them makes some take those learning opportunities more seriously. Teachers have been able to complete each other's problem sets for Math, for example, with the mindset of a student and then help each other come up with essential questions to ask their students to make sure they're understanding the key concepts of their lessons.
How has the design of the CPL helped you drive towards results with your team?
The structure of the CPL has been very helpful in keeping us grounded in the development of different learning opportunities. We could go a lot of different directions, and especially with it being test prep time, people are really just looking for 'how do we do test prep.' There have been times, even recently, when we've sat down to plan learning sessions, and we are throwing out ideas, and I literally stop and look at the top of the CPL to see what the goals are. Then we use that to think about how the session can and will help us reach that goal and if our ideas are aligned to the CPL or not. This has helped us to really stay focused on helping our teachers, and ultimately, the students in our school.
What's been your favorite moment from your first year in LE?
I have learned a lot about myself as a leader and teacher but the one big thing that has stuck with me and has changed my thinking is what I have learned in the equity sessions. It has helped me be aware of other people's biases towards our kids and towards the work we do in education in New Orleans. Those ideals have always been there but now I can attach words and vocabulary to them. It has brought a new level of awareness to the things happening around me.