Ashlee McCauleySpring Branch Academic Institute
SBISD Abydos Trainer
What does EVERY CHILD mean to you?
“Every Child” means that I know every child in my classroom. I know their handwriting, I know if they are having a bad day or just seem “off,” I know each student well enough to guide them into getting to know themselves.
“Every Child” has the choice in my class and has an opportunity to be successful.
“Every Child” is given an opportunity for their personalized path to success.
“Every Child” is MY child.
We talk about EMPATHY. What does that mean to you and for kids?
When I first saw this question, I asked my students for feedback. Being an empathetic teacher is more than just telling them you understand and can relate to their situation. It is about showing them you are listening.
It could be something as simple as extending a due date based on a conversation you’ve had with them on their current situation. Listening to their questions, their feedback and making decisions for your class as a whole based on that information.
One of my students said the following: “Empathy is a relation. We can all relate here. We have all been through the same troubles and the same triumphs. Being able to relate for good and bad is incredible. Empathy means that you can relate to somebody. Negative or positive.”
What is at the heart of success for kids?
The HEART of success for my kids is relationships. Academic and social relationships with each other in the classroom drive their learning, and my relationships with each student have been the heartbeat of each student’s journey to great growth and achievement.
How do you create excitement around learning?
As we all know, a students’ attitude is greatly affected by their teachers’ attitude towards learning. These things in collaboration with each other create ownership between the student and their academics. It’s not just aren’t you proud of me? It is “We are so excited about what you have created and accomplished!”
What are some ways you’re turning empathy into personalized learning experiences?
Using what I learn from the relationships and connections I make with the students, I have created an individual learning plan for each of my students in every ELA class. Even if a class is working on a poetry unit, each student has their own path through that unit.Through independent novel studies, my students are given opportunities to sharpen their academic abilities through challenges that focus on their individual strengths.
For example, I have a student that loves math. So I had him create challenging word problems for his peers using the content of the current novel he was reading. Another student of mine is really good at origami. We created a project centered on origami that included the plot of his current novel and the character’s growth.
Talk about your classroom culture. What is most important to you?
Respect. Instead of trying to mold and shape each student to fit into what I want for the class, we mold and shape the curriculum to fit each student and the immediate needs of the class. Respect is a very powerful word in our classroom. There are many definitions we tie to “respect.”
Respecting each other’s space, privacy, interests, a level of academics, and their personal quirks and that makes them who they are. Sometimes we change things every moment! Knowing the importance of this, my students embrace it and naturally accept it as part of their learning.
What does success look like for you as an educator?
At first, I thought it was great that my students were mastering the content while having fun doing so. Then I realized just how important it was for my students to understand the TEKS and which skills they are learning as they grow through the curriculum.
Success for me is when a student can see they have grown, they take ownership in their work, take pride in it, are confident in what they produce, and at the end of the class say, “it’s already time to go?” That’s how I know they are fully invested in what they are doing because they WANT to be, and that is a successful student.