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Volunteering to Learn, Part One


Teaching is never a finished product. There is always something to tweak, change, or all together erase and start over. I realized this quickly when I began teaching high school mathematics in my first teaching position at Dekalb High School. My senior level students skipped class, rolled their eyes at the thought of homework and did not share my love of mathematics. I tried new strategies and called parents, but I was missing something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I knew if I wanted to be highly effective in the classroom, I still had so much to learn.

As my husband, Forrest, and I started our family, we decided I would be a full-time mother. I knew I would return to the profession I loved one day, but in the meantime I couldn’t wait to volunteer in my children’s classrooms. I spent fourteen years volunteering in elementary, middle and high schools, held offices in parent teacher organizations and school advisory councils, led fundraising efforts, organized teacher appreciation weeks, and even helped write school improvement plans. The most influential part of this time was spent in classrooms, where I was able to informally observe many teachers and the strategies that made their unique classrooms successful. For me, volunteering became a learning experience, and it transformed the novice teacher I had been into the future teacher I became.

In this multi-part series, Volunteering to Learn, I will share with you what I learned from three teachers: Mrs. Nancy Kertz at Skeen Elementary School, Ms. Judie Whitaker at Carver Middle School and Mrs. Karyl Elton at Leesburg High School. Observing other teachers is one of the best ways to learn and develop skills as an educator. An observer can see time management, student engagement, teaching strategies, classroom culture, teacher enthusiasm and so much more.

I certainly borrowed valuable ideas from these three amazing educators and their years of experience, so #LEARNWITHME as I share their teaching skillset with you.

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