Andrea McCoy MSC
2016-17 Teacher of the Year
Subject and Grade Level: Grade 8 Science
Years of Experience: 6
Excerpt from Teacher of the Year application
To me, teaching is important because:
I recently read the book, An Innovator's Mindset by George Couros. A particular quote stood out to me, "Would I want to be a learner in my classroom?" I believe this quote embodies my approach to teaching. As a student, I wanted to be challenged and feel success with the content. I wanted to feel appreciated, I wanted to be respected, and I wanted to be engaged in my learning. As a teacher I now feel it is important to provide experiences and support students in each of those aspects. When lesson planning I always keep the above goals in mind with student engagement being the top priority.
With every lesson I plan, I strive for students to love and appreciate science. I also reinforce how to think like a scientist. I aim to engage them with pop culture, authentic demonstrations, and hands on laboratory opportunities. I also try to take an interdisciplinary approach with the science content. I collaborate with the math and language arts teachers on my team in order to support math and language arts instruction. We practice science content through data analysis, graphing, measurement, formulas, nonfiction reading, and conclusion writing.
I differentiate lessons in order to meet students at their academic level, in turn providing successes and challenges for a wide range of students. After taking a formative assessment, students are immediately provided with their scores. Students are trained to know the required level of mastery. I then provide differentiated levels of instruction. The students have the knowledge to advocate for themselves and what they need to raise their mastery level. This ownership motivates students to ask questions, watch help videos, and to visit my room before class time. I frequently have students track their own scores and analyze that data to give them ownership in their education and prepare them for high school.
I want my students to feel both appreciated and respected. I believe that this is an extremely important aspect of teaching. In my first week as a student teacher, I had a student confess her teenage pregnancy to me. When I asked why she chose to tell me, she said I was the first teacher who smiled at her and continued to engage her in conversation on multiple occasions. This incident has stayed with me, and it has continually shaped how I communicate and treat my students. I do my best to get to know my students and to talk with them about their lives beyond the middle school and their academic success. I also encourage peer support by modeling and facilitating collaboration. In addition, students nominate peers for the OWL award in my room. The OWL award stands for Outstanding Wonderful Leader. Students select peers who participate, help others in class, and model exemplary behavior. This award helps enforce that our classroom is a community. I aim to stay positive, honest, and consistent with my students. I want them to know that my classroom is a safe place and that they are appreciated.