James Wolfe, Elementary School Special Education Teacher, on Teaching
Two words/phrases that describe your teaching persona
crafty, out of the box
Why teach? Or, how did you become a teacher?
I started my journey to become a teacher by majoring in biology education. After a semester I decided that I wanted to pursue social studies education, and then audition for music ed. The summer after my sophomore year, I worked at a summer day camp in Virginia Beach and then decided that I really enjoyed working with elementary-aged children and haven’t looked back since!
What would you be if not a teacher?
What do you do to optimize student engagement in class?
Creating and using games in my instruction is really important. Any time that I can get my kids to learn without thinking they are learning is a huge success for my students and myself.
Coffee, tea, or caffeine-free?
Coffee, but prefer diet soda
Describe your classroom management style (including a few best practices) in a few sentences.
In order to manage my classroom, I first and foremost make sure to build positive rapport with my students. This is key in order to earn their trust and respect. I’m a firm believer in the 3:1 ratio of positive to negative interaction (Safe and Civil Schools). For every negative interaction (correction) teachers must incorporate 3 positive interactions for every student.
Favorite Cartoon/TV/Movie Teacher
Favorite Book (to read or to teach)
The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick
Is teaching a science or art? Explain.
Teaching is a science and an art. Science: teachers need to keep updated on new best practices and pedagogy in teaching. Art: Not everyone can be a teacher, truly awesome teachers have a knack for it.
Describe your process of preparing a lesson.
When planning lessons, I take a lot into account: ability level of my students, making sure to include literacy across the curriculum, including multi-sensory instructional strategies, and aligning my instruction to state standards. It is also important that I differentiate my instruction so that all my students can access what is being taught.
It is also important that the lessons I create are very fun and engaging. Including games in my instruction is something I really strive for with my students with special needs.
How do you fit differentiation into your lessons?
As a Special Education teacher, it is imperative to differentiate each lesson. Every student must be able to access a lesson on some level.
Which teacher do you admire most and what makes him/her a great teacher?
My professor in college; Laurie Deyo was probably one of the most influential teachers in my life. She taught a class that I really wasn’t interested in, but she made it engaging for me and helped me to see the importance of it. She made it real for me. She also became a mentor for me as I went through college and grad school at Syracuse University. To this day, we email back and forth talking about decisions I should make in order to further my teaching career.