Ready, Set, Adventure
For Upper School math teacher Melissa Flynn, summer is a chance to get up and go. By Melissa Flynn, Upper School Math Teacher Ever since I began teaching, I’ve been told by my friends and family how lucky I am to have summers off. However, as someone who loves to learn and try new things, I’ve never thought of summers as “time off,” but rather a chance to regroup, try something new, and go on adventures. Summers are filled with travel, graduate school, mentoring new teachers at the University of Notre Dame, stage managing, designing and scenic painting for theatre companies, and tutoring students. This summer I attended the Klingenstein Summer Institute for Early Career Teachers at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College. I spent two weeks at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey with seventy-five other early-career independent school teachers, as well as lead teachers and presenters from around the world. Arranged into Diversity and Equity and Curriculum groups, we quickly got to work on topics ranging from brain science to content-specific misconceptions to school diversity and culture. In addition to exploring Lawrenceville’s campus and engaging in conversation with some of the greatest minds in education, two collaborative projects greatly influenced my thinking on classroom teaching.
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In one small group we focused on the idea that all of mathematics, specifically higher mathematics, can be connected and developed from the more simple structures we learned as elementary and middle school students. Another collaborative project was our Critical Friend’s Group where we focused on improving our teaching and curriculum design as a means to help and better support our students. Working with three other eductors ranging in age, hometown, and subject area, we all presented lessons, accepted feedback and answered questions. We were not redesigning or rushing anything, but rather reflecting upon and processing our artifact and its intent. Both projects impacted my practice and how I develop and design curriculum. Based on these experiences, one of my goals this year is to spend time reflecting upon my own teaching practice on a regular basis.