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January 20th, 2016 by Amneris Solano
I have always been a reflective teacher with a focus on challenging students to think outside the box and develop critical thinking skills. The Kenan Fellows Program has brought these qualities out even more as I am finding that I am more reflective and purposeful than ever.
As teachers, we are all aware that every group of students is different and that we must adjust our teaching methods as such, but how often do we do that effectively? How often do we ask for our students to give us input? When we do, how much do we value it, take it to heart, then implement their suggestions?
Embracing the value of student input has been the most valuable takeaway from my Kenan fellowship, and it has helped me to improve my teaching so that I may better meet the needs of my students. I am requiring my students to reflect on their habits and progress consistently. I am meeting with them before and after each test, quiz, and benchmark to set goals and talk about what is and is not working for them. It has required more work on my part, but it has truly paid off.
Students are performing better as a result.
My students are more aware of the amount of responsibility they must take in their own learning, and they are working hard to improve their study habits. I have had students go from making atrocious grades on their first quiz of the year to perfect scores on their most recent. Our classrooms are communities, and if we want our students to buy-in to that idea, then we must encourage them to voice their opinions and take those opinions into consideration when designing our lessons.
That’s not the only benefit I have seen in myself in the six months that have passed since my internship with the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. The three weeks that I spent there this summer have changed me more than I ever could have imagined. My mind has been opened to things that I had only dreamed of, and my approach to education has become more inquiry and STEM based than it was before.
Here’s a look what has happened since my internship:
2015-16 Kenan Fellow Brittany Argall teaches eighth-grade math at Springfield Middle School in Wilson County Schools. Her project, Students Discover: Shark Teeth Forensics, was supported by the National Science Foundation.