I have been teaching at the secondary level for 12 years. I taught English as a Second Language (grades 6-12) for the first 8 years of my career. In 2010, I was thirsty for a new challenge, so a transferred to an 8th grade Literacy position within the same suburban school district. Although it was a challenging transition to become a "core content" teacher after working as a "special" teacher since the beginning of my career in 2002, I'm so glad that I accepted the challenge because it sparked a lot of professional growth. I currently serve as department head, a mentor teacher, and as an instructional leader on our building's Instructional Leadership Team. In addition to these responsibilities at the building level, I also serve on two district committees: English Language Arts Curriculum Development Team (K-12) and Standards-Based Grading and Reporting.
I have been aligning my instruction to the Common Core since 2011 because my school district encouraged teachers to "get their feet wet" with the Common Core in order to make the transition smoother in 2014. I also have been using the Literature textbook as one resource and supplementing with a lot of complex non-fiction texts since our textbook alone just doesn't cut it in terms of challenging students to achieve the Common Core Literacy standards. By using the textbook as a resource rather than my curriculum guide, I have enjoyed planning concept-based units that facilitate the building of conceptual knowledge for students as they engage in rigorous learning centered around an integrated skills approach. Student engagement and their ability to comprehend and write critically about complex texts has sky-rocketed in my classroom since I began focusing my efforts on these three things: 1) Unpacking the Common Core standards first, 2) Backwards planning of each unit in order to ensure each formative assessment is aligned to a rigorous summative assessment performance task before planning smaller chunks of learning, and 3) Consistently responding to formative assessment data through flexible grouping that allows me to provide reteaching, differentiated instruction, and extension tasks that are tailored to the diverse needs of my students.
I have had many big and small "Shining Teacher Moments" throughout my 12-year career, but a thank you note that a student gave me in May 2012 pretty much sums up why I am a teacher. I keep this note posted on a mirror in my bedroom as a reminder why I LOVE teaching. It is especially helpful to reread this note when I get discouraged from time to time, too. "Thank you so much for a great Literacy year. I have never had such a caring teacher throughout my entire life. You put so much effort into helping our learning grow. You take so much time out of your own life to help us. It means a lot! You are such a nice teacher and definitely one of my favorites!"
University of Northern Iowa: Bachelor of Arts- Teaching (English) 2001, English as a Second Language (ESL) Endorsement 2001; University of Northern Iowa: Master of Arts- Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) 2008; Drake University: Reading Endorsement (5-12) 2011; State of Iowa Teaching License- Master Educator
Wife and mother of a two-year-old daughter