I have been an English Language Arts teacher for 15 years, working with both junior high students grades 6-8. My additional state certifications in Texas include ones in ESL and Gifted and Talented education. For 13 years I taught in a Title 1 school, teaching 6th graders and then 8th graders. During those years I served as department chair. For the last two years I have taught 8th grade GT(gifted and talented) students in the 7th grade at Beckendorff Junior High in Katy ISD.
While I am conversant with technology as a tool in instruction and some of the newer fads in instructional philosophies, I am not a ‘latest bandwagon’ kind of teacher. I use my professional judgment in picking and choosing from a wide variety of instructional styles that can be different from classroom to classroom depending upon the skill sets of my students. For years I taught students at. title 1 school, many of whom were struggling readers and scoring below grade level on the state STAAR test. I am now teaching all 7th grade gifted and talented students at a high-performing suburban school (Beckendorff Junior High, Katy ISD). I am working with these students to prepare them for AP high school English, but I have a huge backlog of materials and resources I have worked up for years for the struggling students I taught for years. My philosophy is driven by recognizing that helping students achieve high levels of content mastery in their course work is the goal. It also recognizes that junior high students often reach middle school with significant gaps in their academic skills. Gaps not addressed can sabotage the rest of their academic careers especially when the speed and demands of high school take over. The longer I have taught, the more I realize that deficiencies in basic reading skills and impoverished vocabularies are significant problems for many students at junior high. These deficiencies create a host of other problems that carry forward into their other academic subjects. Thus, my primary goal beyond just keeping pace with mandatory curriculum - both important and demanded - is to focus upon improving the reading skills and vocabulary of my students. Because Texas has rigorous accountability testing, I have found this focus helps my students be more successful in that arena as well. Every teacher teaches testing techniques; however good readers usually test very well. One of the best ways to produce better readers is to make every effort to give students an opportunity to read books they enjoy. My personal classroom library has been custom developed to choose books of various rigor and various topics of interest. I have developed specific classroom exercises that target enhanced vocabulary. Regarding the lower-end readers in junior high, I have a particularly rich library of activities, quizzes,etc. on novels we have read in class. The novels we study during the year are ones that I have learned over time really capture the interests of students. We don’t rush through them. I read out loud; they read out loud; and they read alone. The goal is that when we finish a novel, for instance, the students are better readers and have an expanded vocabulary. The focus on producing better readers with better vocabularies also produces better writers. That is also a major goal.
Graduation with High Honors University of Texas Member, PhiBeta Kappa
I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in English and Journalism. I have gone on to earn additional certifications, including math grades 4-8; ESL, and GT(gifted and talented)
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