National Teacher Appreciation Week Spotlight on Tiffany Early
National Teacher Appreciation Week:
Spotlight: Tiffany Early, 4th Grade Teacher, Henry County Schools
National Teacher Appreciation Week is celebrated every May to remind us of how much we owe our teachers. Whether they are impacting our lives or teaching us now or teaching our children, National Teacher Appreciation Week sets aside time to honor the hard work and dedication of all teachers.
At SRG Technology, we work with schools to help teachers do what they do best — teach. In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, we spoke with fourth-grade teacher Tiffany Early, from Henry County Schools, about her experiences in the classroom and her work with SRGT’s BlenderLearn Individual Leaner Profiles (ILPs) – an innovative software application created in partnership with Henry County Schools.
How long have you been teaching at Henry County School?
I have been teaching four years in Henry County, currently teaching fourth grade.
Who was your favorite teacher growing up and why?
My favorite teacher growing up was my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Henry. She was a no-nonsense teacher who wanted everyone in my class to be amazing. I was always surprised at how prepared she was for every situation: she had everything we needed in her supply closet or purse! Our classroom was very warm and she encouraged us to help one another. I loved that I could count on her the same way I could count on my parents, coaches and mentors.
What is your favorite thing about teaching?
My favorite thing about teaching is watching the spirit the children exude when realize they have the power to control their own learning experiences. It’s awesome when a student understands that school is not just about the content that they are learning, but that they are also learning skills that will carry them through life.
What is your biggest challenge as a teacher?
I would like to have more time to introduce life skills. I always tell my students that I don’t know what they will become or what types of teachers they will have after they are in my class, so I feel as if I need to expose them to and help them build as many skills as I can to help them find their own voice. That voice will help guide them to things that they like or ask for what they need to be successful regardless of the environment.
How are you using the ILPs in your classroom?
In my class, ILPs are used for teaching content via student stations. Each station is set up to have several choices of activity so that students can think about what speaks to them and how they will show mastery in the best way. My tests are set up the same way. Students are able to choose from several different types of tests on the same material. The goal is to show mastery on the topic, not the test type. I would further like to explore testing in this way. This type of testing was new for me this year, and I was surprised that my students were asking to test early or asking to stay in from recess to continue working on it.
How are your students responding to the use of the ILPs?
ILPs help build community. I believe my students enjoy having ILPs because they realize that their differences in learning styles and personalities are actually okay. ILPs make students stronger people overall because they are encouraged to think critically and to make choices that will be beneficial to their learning experiences. Students are more encouraging of their peers when they see the working products other students who have chosen a different way to express themselves have created. Students have creative choices that allow them to learn new technology skills which they are able to share with peers as peer teachers.
What is your favorite function of the ILPs?
My favorite function of the ILPs is that they provide a rigorous environment that is attainable for all students.
What do you see as the future of teaching?
I hope the future of teaching rests in a form of personalized learning. It’s more interesting to grade several different types of papers than a class set of the same paper. It provides many topics for discussion within the classroom community. Quiet students become peer teachers, and in some cases leaders, because the content is in a format familiar to them. Students look forward to seeing how they will matter to their classroom community based on their genuine contributions.
What is the greatest reward for being a teacher?
My greatest reward for being a teacher is having current students write a note thanking me for helping them or seeing parents and students from past years who want to give me a positive and glowing update on their academic or extracurricular performance. I always hope that I’m making a difference but having confirmation is wonderful.
Describe an ideal day in the classroom.
An ideal day in my classroom would be to begin with a morning meeting where we would review the objectives for the day. Then students would break into their individual or small group spaces to work on their ILPs. While they are doing that, I would facilitate the Problem Based Learning committee meeting until lunchtime. After lunch, we would have club time which would be classroom run clubs in which students would present skills to their peers. Then we would do career exploration. This is a time where we would learn a skill related to a specialized career. Finally, we would do a connections class, such as art, music, PE, media center, etc. That would be a perfect day.
Thank you for your tireless dedication, Tiffany. Without you the ILPs used at Henry County Schools, which is part of an eco system of innovative applications BlenderLearn, would be obsolete.