Episode 9 – Meredith Jacobs

 

meredithjacobsAs an art teacher you’re a huge advocate for the arts in general – the arts lead to pretty much everything. We back up all of the other academic areas. The arts does back up your ELA, the arts does back up your math…

Fast Facts about Meredith

  1. Full name: Meredith Jacobs
  2. Current city: Plattsburgh NY
  3. Years teaching: 12
  4. Grade(s) taught:
    • (1yr) K-6 Elementary Art Teacher AuSable Forks Elementary,
    • (10yrs) K-12 Art to Children with Special Needs @ CVES BOCES Plattsburgh/ Mineville NY Campuses
    • (1yr) Toddler Teacher
    • (2 months) Orchard Elementary, Rio Linda School District AmeriCorps NCCC* Mentor
  5. Favorite books
  6. Why teach? It feeds your soul and grows others around you.
  7. Check out more about the arts program at Meredith’s school, Champlain Valley Educational Services

artNoteworthy Outtakes from Meredith’s Chat

During our chat, Meredith shares her thoughts on the current state of politics and how it affects arts education. From cutting arts funding to the notion that arts programming is disposable, she expresses how her students with special needs use art as an avenue for not only learning, but meditation, joy and relaxation – skills her students, and many others are often not encouraged to incorporate into their academic lives. As an art teacher, Meredith also recognizes that not all children learn the same way and that the arts is one of the few times in school that learning is concrete and tactile, leading to skill building in other academic areas as well.

Meredith also shares valuable tips and strategies for engaging with your community to help give your students a platform for showcasing their art and to help with putting resources into your classroom – Meredith says one year she walked into her local pizzeria and asked for pizza boxes to help her students bring home mirrors they made at school as part of an art project!

Listen in on how Meredith describes her passions for incorporating arts into education, despite the fact that art teachers are often shied away from this path because of the notion that they “won’t have a job in a few years.”

The Three H’s That Start My Student’s Morning Right!

Before figuring out any math equations, sharing whether or not the character in their book is a protagonist or antagonist the first question my students answer each morning is:

blog6“Handshake, High five, or Hug?”

Something magical happens every morning during our morning greeting – we start a new day on a clean slate. Whatever may have happened the day before, good or bad, today is a new day. A new day to learn, a new day to make better choices, or a new day for a student to meet a goal they set for themselves the day prior.

As I write this, I realize this is a piece of advice I received long before receiving the keys to my first classroom. This wasn’t a new concept to me as a new teacher, and probably isn’t to many other new teachers either. One of my favorite books, THE Classroom Management Book, by Harry and Rosemary Wong, talks in depth about why this crucial part of the day is so important.

My intent with the blogs I write, and the podcasts I host, is not so much to share innovative new ideas or strategies, but to share stories and personal aha moments teachers have had in hopes that it strikes a chord with others trying to find themselves in this profession. More than just learning about why the morning greeting is so important – one of my aha moments as a teacher came when I learned HOW to actually do it successfully!

Here is a breakdown of my love/hate experience with getting my student’s mornings off right:

If At First You Don’t Succeed; Try, Try Again … Errr, Maybe…

“Take the time to greet each child as they enter the door,” one of my teaching professors once said. Well, easier said than done. Remember, I was new at this gig. I worked with only adults in my life before teaching. That first morning as I met my students for the first time on the yard, with a beautifully decorated sign that read, “Room 10!,” in my hand, I eagerly walked them to the classroom and stood at the door ready to shake each child’s hand and say, “Good Morning, welcome to second grade!” What I wasn’t prepared for, or naively thought to consider ahead of time, was what would happen once the students who had received their greeting entered the room with their teacher still at the door greeting everyone else.

While at most schools, and in many classrooms, discipline is not a factor – this wasn’t the case for me, and it wasn’t the case at my school. It was the first day of school after all, and I hadn’t even begun to understand what would need to go into building a safe and productive classroom culture.

The first thing I noticed was how baffled each child seemed to be when they saw me standing at the door, hand outstretched and a big smile on my face. It occurred to me much later on that this was probably one of the first times many of my students of color in a predominantly low socioeconomic community had an adult waiting to greet them.

Second thing I noticed was that about a third of the way through greeting my students, disciplinary problems began to arise both inside the classroom with children who had already been greeted, and in the hall with students still waiting their turn. Looking back, it was all a blur, but I do remember that after that it took me a long time to try to greet my students at the door again. All of what I had read in the Wong & Wong book on classroom management became replaced with the fight or flight instinct to just move forward with my day and try to get through my lessons without allowing the space for lack of supervision to occur again.

I Did Try Again!

Over time, I began to learn new techniques and strategies for how to structure my day with my classroom. I wish I could say it was in that first year, but it wasn’t. That first year was hard – I am sure that I will pepper future posts with anecdotes along the way, but much like Connie Lam, my teaching experience also started with struggle and absolutely being thrown into just chaos.

But I digress…

Into my second year of teaching, I found myself in a new school, with an innovative concept of taking Montessori public and free of charge to a largely urban and diverse community.

I felt renewed and excited to start fresh. I felt defeated from my previous experience, but I also realize how much I learned from that first year as a teacher. With my new school’s concept of putting the child’s emotional needs first, I was ready to figure out a way to implement giving each of my student’s a personal greeting each morning.

Here are some of the strategies used in my class to set up the morning greeting for success:

  • Walk the students to the line, before having them place their items on the hook, face them and give them very specific instructions such as, “Good morning class, please place your items on your hooks and when you enter the room please begin independent reading/check the board for your morning do-now.” The key here is planning ahead what the students will do when they enter so that you are free to give your individual greeting. On the first day of school, before you’ve been able to establish these routines, you may want to leave items on their desks, such as their name tags that they can begin coloring and decorating.
  • Stand strategically at the door where your line of view includes the hall where students are placing their items away, and inside the classroom.
  • Take a knee, meet your students at their level.
  • Offer options students can choose from. Some of them will be cuddly, and will want a hug – others won’t and will feel more comfortable with a handshake or a high five.
  • Don’t just say, “Good morning,” add things like:
    • “I am so happy you’re at school today!”
    • “What did you have for breakfast today?”
    • “You’re eye contact tells me that you are ready to learn today!”
  • Use this opportunity to check in! Ask, “How are you feeling this morning?” “Remember the reading goals we talked about yesterday? I look forward to seeing you work toward them today!”

What I Learned from the “Hand shake, high five or hug?”

The way that students enter the classroom determines almost everything else that happens after. And, it may be the only time of the day that I get to have any one on one interaction with every child in my classroom. With upwards of 30 or more students in your class, these personal one on one greetings really may be the only time all day that you get to look each child in the eyes and tell them how special they are. As I write these words I immediately think of one student in particular who because of his special needs is pulled out often throughout the day for services. If it weren’t for the connection we make every morning, he wouldn’t feel as comfortable when he is in class as I hope he does.

If I were to rewind even more, I can even look back and realize that the reason the very first students I had gave me that look of bewilderment because in their case – it probably was the first time an adult looked at them with a smile on their face happy and eager to enter them into the classroom. If there is any reason at all to implement a morning greeting (not to be confused with or replaced by the whole class morning meeting that takes place inside the classroom), it would be to realize that for many children, especially the most under-served students in the most underprivileged communities, your morning greeting might be the only time in their day they are welcomed into any space they walk into.

Episode 8 – Edwina Lucero

 

edwinaimage“I see them survive through the inherit grit that they bring every day with them to the classroom – a skill I don’t need to teach them.”

Fast Facts about Edwina

  1. Full name: Edwina Lucero
  2. Years teaching: 13
  3. Grades taught: 9-12
  4. City: Denver Metro area
  5. Favorite resources:
  6. Favorite books:
  7. Listen to Edwina’s Music!

Why Music Education is so Important, according to Edwina!

Edwina has taught classroom music in the Denver metro area for the last 13 years, in private, public, and public charter schools.  After completing her Master’s degree in music education at the University of Colorado, her focus has been on how to provide equitable access to robust arts programming for under-served populations.  She lives in Arvada with her husband, two children, and a bossy miniature schnauzer. When asked about her thoughts on the importance of music education and her feelings about the current state of arts education in politics, here is what she had to say:

“I am inspired by my students at the high school I teach at in Denver, Colorado.  My students are primarily Latino/Hispanic, and a large percentage are children of undocumented parents, or are undocumented themselves.  I see these young people defeat the odds every single day.  

I see them survive through the inherit grit that they bring every day with them to the classroom – a skill I don’t need to teach them.  I see them dream and hope and love and create.  I also see them fear and wonder what the future brings.  These young people inspire me to be an active citizen – as the saying goes, we will never be truly free until we all share the same rights as you and me.

The arts are the avenue I travel with these young people. It is on that road that we are able to intersect with things like human spirit, empathy, empowerment, and knowledge of self.  This country is full of free-thinking, critical-thinking, and forward-thinking people. Regardless of your politics, the arts are an integral part of our existence. Whether you are celebrating triumphantly or marching in resistance, you are doing so to the beat of some drum – the music, the art, the expression of self – they are part of who you are.

We cannot allow the tyranny of fear to overtake our culture. Now is the time to write, sing, play, dance, sculpt, and create our destiny.”

12 Ways Teaching Has Affected My Thinking

I thought I knew, but I really had no idea what I was getting myself into when I began teaching – I can’t be the only one, right? I hope not.

I mean, how can you really anticipate what will happen when you are left alone in a room with 25 or more children and the door closes behind you, and they’re staring back at you in anticipation? One day you’re playing teacher with all your stuffed toys in the safety of your bedroom as a child. Then the next you have the responsibility of imparting knowledge, safety and wisdom on the young people before you.

Three years in, I am not quite as terrified as I was on that very first day — however, many soon-to-be teachers think teaching will be their avenue for “saving the world,” that all their students will love them, and all their lesson plans will be so incredible and engaging that they will never be “that” teacher with disciplinary problems. Oh, and summers… ahhh, summers! Need I say more about that one?!

While I am fully aware that I still have a long way to go on my path to being a more effective and confident teacher, here are twelve ways teaching has so far affected my thinking:

  1. All my students will love me – but that doesn’t mean that they will do what I want them to do!
    While some may love you more than others, most students do have love for their teachers, whether they admit it or not. They want your love and adoration – but setting clear boundaries as a teacher is as important as parents setting loving boundaries at home with their children. As their teachers, we want them to feel loved and cared for, after all students who know their teacher loves them will also work harder at trying to meet expectations. However, there is a difference between trying to be their “friend,” and setting clear expectations while also inviting your students to get to know you on a somewhat personal level. In my podcast chat with Melissa Ascencio, she talks about how she uses her sense of humor with students to help build relationships and trust.
  2. blog5Teaching is 90% Relationships and 10% academics.
    Much in the same frame as above, I have come to realize that teaching is a lot more than lesson plans and unit writing. Connie Lam talks honestly about her experience of being “thrown into just chaos” when she began teaching. She talks about how she wishes she had more support in building relationships and classroom management strategies with her specific population of students. It wasn’t until I moved from working in a standard classroom, which can be very formative based and numbers driven, to a Montessori school where I finally learned more about looking at the “whole child” and explicitly teaching solid strategies to meet their emotional needs that I began to really feel like I was becoming a teacher.
  3. My day is not done at 3, it’s not done at 5 either…
    A common misconception about becoming a teacher is that our jobs are flexible. Our students are dismissed by 3 (or even earlier at some schools) so, naturally a teacher’s day is now open to doing “whatever,” yeah right. One of the most common things I am hearing among all my podcast chats has been this common struggle among teachers about how to balance one’s personal life and teaching life. Think about it, all the emails that come in during the day, all the paperwork that needs to get done, lessons that need to get planned, meetings that need to take place, professional development and credentialing requirements, parents who need to check in, and so on… all those things cannot even be touched until all your children have been dismissed at the end of the day. I have come to learn that I need to be more efficient with my time to get things done. Something I am still working on.
  4. I cannot fix everything.
    Danielle David talks about not always having to have an answer. She shares how one of her biggest lessons as a teacher has been the realization that “the most valuable tool you can give to someone is your active listening… you’re just listening with your ears and heart.” As teachers, we can be made to feel like we should know everything and that we should know how to fix it all too. However, as a teacher I have learned that the most powerful tool I can give my students is the skill to learn the process of figuring things out. It’s ok to say, “I don’t know,” it’s ok to just teach how to listen with your “eyes, ears and heart.” Those lifelong skills will stay with them far into their future — and also relieves me from feeling like I need to have an answer to every question they may have.
  5. Teaching is not always fun.
    That’s right kids, sometimes your teacher doesn’t want to come to school either! As a career changer, I definitely feel like I spend my days more productively and walk away feeling more fulfilled than I did at previous jobs, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have days where I just want to tear my hair out. Sometimes, teaching is just not fun, but it’s always meaningful, and it’s always challenging and it’s always different every day.
  6. Professional development can sometimes be a drag.
    I am what they call a “introverted extrovert,” which means that while I thrive on social interaction, I also gain energy from time alone. I enjoy sharing strategies, chatting and learning more about how I can be a better teacher – hence the development of these podcasts and blogs. However… there are times that professional development meetings can also feel like a drag. With so many things on a teacher’s plate during the day, it is often hard to concentrate during a PD meeting without also thinking of all the other things that you can be doing during that time.
  7. I’ve become more aware of the importance of self care.
    I feel so grateful to work for an Ashoka Changemaker school where mindfulness practices such as meditation, silence and empathy are embedded in our daily curriculum, as well as at our own staff meetings. With a background that started in corporate America, in the fast-paced city of New York, it has been so wonderful learning how to slow down. That said, just as I am still working on strategies on being more efficient with my time, I am still working on implementing mindfulness and self care into my daily life. However, being a teacher is all about modeling and I often model using strategies such as meditation, and deep breaths with my students and have seen it help them develop coping strategies at such an early age.
  8. I’ve come to appreciate having a growth mindset.
    It can be so easy to get caught up in scores, but being able to sit back and watch a child go from barely putting sounds together in the beginning of the year, to reading close to grade level in just a matter of months is so rewarding. They are growing, we are growing. The process should be just as celebrated as the outcome.
  9. No two teachers do things the same way.
    I mentioned before how much I enjoy collaborating with peers. When I first began teaching, however, I thought that I needed to copy exactly what other experienced teachers were doing in order to be successful. I soon realize that taking bits and pieces of strategies from other teachers and finding my own style would really be what feels natural and in the end lead to positive growth as a teacher.
  10. I absolutely appreciate parents who understand that mistakes are for learning and that it’s OK if there child is not happy ALL of the time.
    As a parent before becoming an educator, I was privy to lots of playground talks with other parents who were overly concerned with their child’s constant state of happiness. While I never really bought into that mindset, as I think teaching resilience and creativity that can, and often, comes out of things like frustration and boredom is actually healthier in the long term – I have come to appreciate so much other parents who also appreciate this kind of growth mindset for their child. It makes teaching their child so much easier because they are able to understand that mistakes are for learning!
  11. I’ve come to learn to let go of parent expectations – especially my own
    Often parents are the first to be blamed if their child falls short of expectations. As a mom of two boys, I have had many times where I felt that my boys behaviors were an absolute reflection of me, and while that may be true in many ways, it is not absolute. I appreciate that being a teacher, who is also a mom, I’ve been able to see each child for who they are without judging their parents. I could teach my son all about how important it is to follow directions in school, but I’ve come to face it, he is a social butterfly. His love of talking, in moments that aren’t always the best during class, does not make me a bad parent.
  12. Summer and holiday breaks fly by!
    That’s right folks… and as a career changer, I totally remember what it was like to only have five vacation days in a year. However, I have learned that teaching is such an enormous job, that when a break comes along, it is greatly needed! Also, to be even more honest, teachers are never really “off.” Whether planning, attending professional development conferences, setting up the classroom, or finding creative ways to raise money for classroom supplies – because well, if I wasn’t so set on wanting to not go over just 12 ways teaching has affected my thinking, I would add a 13th about how underpaid teachers are and how under-served many of the schools we work in can be, especially those of us who work in urban public schools.

Funny thing though readers, despite all I’ve listed, teaching has been the most rewarding and enriching career I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. And I guess, if I were to cheat and add a 13th after all, it would really be that one of the most everlasting ways teaching has affected the way I think it would be that I see the future in my children, and so I see the future very brightly!

By Jennifer Khadir

Episode 7 – Connie Lam

connieimage“My teaching experience started with just struggle and absolutely being thrown into just chaos,” says Connie Lam, teacher of three years in Oakland, CA. “I think that I definitely don’t regret everything that happened because it’s made me a stronger person and hopefully a stronger teacher in the future.”

Fast Facts about Connie:

  1. Full name: Connie Lam
  2. Years teaching: 3
  3. Grades taught: 1st-3rd Grade SDC (Special Day Classroom), Kindergarten
  4. City: Oakland, CA
  5. Favorite resources:
  6. Favorite books:
  7. Why teach? For the children!

conniesfeedbacknoteNoteworthy outtakes from my chat with Connie

Listen as Connie talks candidly about her not-so-great experience with Teach for America and how she feels new teachers could use more consistent support in their first year’s teaching. Connie shares her struggles as she embarked on the unknown in a new city miles from home and with a population of students she had no experience with. From aha moments that taught her that constant smiles won’t win her student’s respect, to still being challenged to accept that being a teacher is a learning experience in itself, Connie talks in depth about her growth in the short three years she’s been teaching, as well as how far she realizes she still needs to go. Thank you for chatting so honestly with teachers Connie!

Want to be a Teacher? Ask Yourself These 3 Questions

Teaching is something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl I had a chalkboard in my room and would “teach” my younger brother, along with all my stuffed animals and cabbage patch dolls — who I’d line up seated in a horseshoe shaped-U, in front of me as I lectured them on reading and writing.

blog4I was also an avid reader and writer myself and kept a number of composition books and various notebooks filled with short stories that I wish so badly I still had today. My dual passions for teaching and writing were always at odds and for most of my life I thought of as two separate entities pitting themselves against each other. I had to choose — be a writer, or be a teacher.

Writing won out at first as I spent most of my high school and college years dedicated to writing for and acting as editor for my school newspaper, respectively. Although teaching seemed to always be calling to me in the far ends of my mind, studying Journalism and ultimately landing a career in communications seemed more natural — at first.

When my family embarked on our cross-country move to the San Francisco Bay area from New York City back in 2011 I took the opportunity to go back to school and study education. Before committing to any program I spent a year volunteering at my son’s preschool, and visited many elementary classrooms as well. Once in my Masters program, I excelled – A’s all around!

I thought I was prepared, but very quickly realized once in the classroom that there was so much more that I didn’t consider, or think to ask myself ahead of time. One of my most recent chat with teacher podcasts with Danielle David, educator in the East Bay for over 11 years, touched on three questions any person considering a career in education should ask themselves. At about the 48:55 mark, you’ll hear Danielle suggest asking yourself the following:

  1. Do I really like kids?
    Danielle admitted that while this may seem like a no-brainer, that it is very important to consider your feelings about children. Whether you’re considering early elementary, middle school or High School — do you like being around young children, adolescents or teenagers. Your love of math may not be good enough to qualify you for being a math teacher in a room full of around 30 teenage students if you can’t stand being in the room with them in the first place.
  2. How am I going to balance the workload and my life?
    “I know that seems like putting the horse before the cart,” says Danielle, “but at the same time, it’s really important to have a work/life balance. Being a new teacher, it’ll eat you up if you let it.”
    Thinking about how to honor all the parts of your life that are important to you is good  advice in any career you choose, but as Danielle says, as a teacher “there will always be work, there will always be lessons to write, but you’re not always going to have that time to be with your family or that you could go and take an exercise class and you don’t want to lose yourself to try to get ahead.” If you’re not putting your best self forward, you’re not going to be able to forge long lasting relationships, a part of teaching that is extremely important, and often goes overlooked in teaching programs.
  3. How am I going to prepare myself for feedback that maybe isn’t so great?
    During our chat, Danielle shared a personal anecdote from her earlier years in the classroom. She talked about how an administrator once said “I don’t like your voice.” Danielle shared how hurtful that felt at first, but after some thought and reflection was able to figure out that she had been talking loudly over her students. She was able to take, what she referred to as badly worded constructive criticism, and turn it into a teachable moment that taught her to slow her pace and be more aware of her students engagement during lessons.
    “It is a very personal profession. You are out there on stage,” says Danielle, “people are going to come in and they’re going to have things to say about it [your teaching], it’s going to happen.”Danielle went on to say that despite the comments anyone gets, “people are going to get feedback that they don’t want to hear.” She suggests asking yourself, how will you be able to respond to that? She also recommends not being reactionary, and instead consider where the observer is coming from? How truthful are they? And, are they someone you trust?

Teaching has so far proven to be a profession that definitely requires one to have patience with children, and adults! It has also taken more of an effort to balance my life as a mother, wife, teacher and now blogger, than ever before. In a separate podcast with 16 year teaching veteran, Melissa Ascencio, we chatted candidly about what balancing her life as a teacher/mom meant to her — understanding that nothing can be equally balanced at the same time, that sometimes certain parts of your life required more attention than the others at any given time, but that as long as it all evens out in the end you have achieved some sort of balance.

And lastly, one thing I am so grateful to have learned as a teacher so far, has been this idea of tackling everything life throws my way with a growth mindset and willingness to improve for the betterment of myself and for the sake of my children…both my children at home and in my classroom.

by Jennifer Khadir

Teachers: 3 Tips for Keeping Your Cup Full

“Be yourself; everyone is already taken” ~Oscar Wilde


Some of my recent podcast interviews have touched on how important it is to get to know yourself, take care of yourself and ultimately “be yourself” for the sake of you students… and your sanity.

blog3As a parent and a teacher, I for one can vouch for how your own needs can very easily be pushed to the back burner in these such roles. Therefore, I wanted to take a moment to sit back and reflect on the importance of self-care in order to be the best to the children who need me in all the roles of my life.

Admittedly, I do not have all the answers, which is why this podcast and blog came to be in the first place. It’s been amazing getting to talk to professional educators and take bits and pieces of what they’ve shared and try to figure out ways to incorporate it into my classroom and life.

Running on an “Empty Cup”

When I began teaching I threw myself into it, as most teachers do. The summer before my first day as a second grade teacher, I lived and breathed classroom setup, poured over lesson plans and things like classroom jobs. I also had a 7-month-old at the time and a 5-year-old son getting ready to start kindergarten himself.

I was tired and overwhelmed before the first day of school even started. I was running on an “empty cup,” as they say. I didn’t realize how all the stress I was putting on myself was actually setting my students and myself up for failure. I’ve since been on a quest to ask other teachers how they keep their cups filled and prioritize self-care in their lives.

Three Tips from Professional Educators to Keep Your Cup Full

  1. Set boundaries, and don’t take work home
    In recent podcast post, both Dana Graham and Elizabeth Isralowitz, both educators for ten years in California, talked candidly about how when they began teaching, they would leave work every day on, or close to their end of contracted hours — which resulted in often taking work home and working late into the night. They’ve both since learned that taking the time at the end of the day to unwind briefly once the students were dismissed and then use their time more efficiently to prioritize and get any necessary paperwork done, even if that meant staying a little later some days, helps them manage setting boundaries easier. For Elizabeth, making a clear and distinct separation from her work-self and home-self — where she says she no longer takes home to at the end of the day — has been an important step in her own self-care.
  2. Laugh at yourself
    Melissa Ascencio, who has taught in North Carolina, New York City and now in Virginia over a course of 16 years, says she is able to keep herself, and her students successful and happy by always using her sense of humor in any and all situations. Melissa says that a huge part of teaching is building relationships with your students and one of the ways she does that is by being her true self. One value she holds true as a teacher is that if you want your student to open up to you, that you in turn need to open up to them first.
  3. Calendar time for yourself and find ways to combine your passions
    She doubles as a full-time public school teacher and a part-time spin instructor! Danielle David, educator for 11 years in East Bay, CA, says she’s been fortunate enough to combine her love for exercise and teaching by becoming a spin instructor at her local JPower Studios in Benicia, CA. Danielle shared how her love for exercise came about as a means to manage her high anxiety. She recommends finding ways to incorporate self-care by doing things that make you happy, and to remember all the roles you play in your life – teacher, spouse, dog-owner, etc… and to not forget to calendar time for yourself, even if it’s to spend that time reading a good “non-teacher book.”

Whatever you find works for you, these tips are great starting points as you begin to think about how you can prioritize self-care in your own life. While teaching is such an important job, we teachers can only give our best-selves to our students, if we remember to give to ourselves first. As for me, Danielle’s tip of finding ways of combining your passions rings true as I work to build this very blog and combine my own passion of education, writing…and chatting!

By Jennifer Khadir

Episode 6 – Danielle David

 

ddavid“I’m a Caucasian woman from an upper middle class town where I was raised… I moved to Oakland when I started teaching in Oakland – and so I think that actually living in the city that I worked in, especially considering Oakland has many different neighborhoods, but there is a lot of impoverished areas of Oakland, it was humbling for me and that helped – immersing myself in the culture. I had some falters throughout the years, people may or may not have called me racist, I don’t think it was true, I know it wasn’t true, but people get defensive when it comes to their kids or somebody that is trying to help them but they feel like it’s a challenge. So, I just became very humbled and I listened, and you know what I learned… you don’t always have to have an answer for something, and the most valuable tool you can give to someone is your active listening… you’re just listening with your ears and heart.”

Fast Facts about Danielle

  1. Full name: Danielle David
  2. Years in education: 11
  3. Current position: Teacher on Special Assignment in Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District
  4. Grade(s) taught: TK, K, 1, 2, 3 as a classroom teacher but I have worked with all grades from TK-8th
  5. Favorite books:
  6. Why teach: Because I want to help enable our future to make better decisions than those from our past.

Noteworthy outtakes from Danielle’s chat

During our chat, Danielle mentioned some of the following topics. Click on the links below to learn more about them:

  • Transitional Kindergarten (TK) – a relatively new grade that began in California about five years ago to accommodate children with Fall birthdays who did not meet the state’s most recent kindergarten age cutoff of turning five before September 1st.
  • Montessori – Danielle mentioned Montessori briefly in comparing it to the very play-based TK program she helped to launch at Emerson Elementary school in Oakland, CA. More about this topic in an upcoming post as a Montessori trained teacher is on the schedule for an upcoming podcast!
  • Caring School Communities

daniellejpowerMeet and Spin with Danielle in Person!

Danielle is a wealth of knowledge and experience, and also doubles as a spin studio instructor! If you happen to live in, or around, the Benicia, CA area, be sure to attend one of her spin classes at JPower Studio. You can find Danielle combining her passion for both teaching and exercise here every Wednesday morning at 5:30am, Thursday nights at 5:30pm and alternating weekends – check out the schedule.