Teaching transforms something old into something new, and makes something new become something familiar. Teaching is about building relationships. In the classroom, I set high expectations for student behavior and performance, and balance that with one-on-one assistance to help struggling students meet those expectations. I want my students to be proficient, inquisitive and genuine. I want them to be respectful, resourceful and reliable. I will do anything to help my students succeed, because I know each and every one of them can. If a student does not understand a problem, I will explain it in as many ways necessary as it takes for him or her to understand. As a teacher it is my job to modify my techniques to meet the varying needs of students in the Boston Public Schools.
My trademark phrase is “There you go!” I use this phrase often when teaching math problems, because it demystifies the math problem. Too many students become frustrated because they think math is hard, but in my lessons I try to make the problems clear and fun so they appear manageable. In this way I impart my excitement to my students. If students are engaged and interested, their ability to retain information drastically increases. I use manipulatives, group work and exploration as much as possible to spark students interests and make lessons meaningful.
I cultivate a classroom that is respectful of and responsive to all students' needs. In my student teaching placement, one of our students on an IEP could not read; I chose to read every question out loud to the whole class. This allowed him to know the question without feeling singled out because of his inability to read independently. I give students the scaffolding and resources to be able to succeed on their own. I am willing and excited to give students individualized attention. My students say “Miss Waugh!” perhaps 100 times per day, because they know I will give attention to each and every one of them and answer all questions.
I do not stifle student behavior. I want to teach them the right choices and then encourage them to make the right choices. I understand students at school are learning more than just what is 3624 divided by 12. They are learning how to learn and how to behave. There are certain ways in which students need to conduct themselves, and I make sure they know and act in these ways. Students need to raise their hand. They need to treat their teachers and each other with respect. They need to come to class prepared. When a student misbehaves, I use the best method of discipline for that student in hopes of giving him or her reason to change the inappropriate behavior. I believe every student has the chance to succeed and can choose to succeed. I provide students with many chances yet clear consequences.
I engage fellow students in their peer's accountability. For example, while waiting for the line to be quiet on the way to lunch, I told the students to look quietly at the person next to him or her and tell that person with their eyes that they are hungry and waiting for the class to be quiet so we could go to lunch. Students in a classroom community need to be accountable to each other, in addition to the teacher.
In lesson planning, I challenge more advanced students with more difficult problems and break down problems for less advanced students. I challenge all students to higher-level thinking. I set performance guidelines in the classroom and give time constraints, so that students stay focused and are able to complete their work. When students accomplish their goals, I celebrate success. I hope through positive reinforcement my students will be motivated intrinsically to study hard, pay attention and reach the full potential I believe rests just below the surface in all of them.