Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Jay Sugarman, Ed. D.

Grade: 4

Location: Brookline, MA

Setting: Urban

Years Teaching: 25

Why did you decide to become an elementary school teacher?

I did not initially plan to become an elementary teacher. I went to college thinking that I might major in economics and go on to law school. But in my freshman year there was an orientation to different activities in the area, and one was volunteering in a tutoring organization that worked with elementary students. And I started doing that, and enjoyed it, and things just developed. I didn't major in elementary education because it wasn't available, but I started taking courses, majored in human development, and then went on for more training and started teaching.

What have been your biggest surprises in teaching?

The social dynamics of the class as a group was a surprise for me at the beginning of my teaching career. I'm still learning how best to work with that, because there are so many different variables that come up from the kids as a group, and from individual kids. I also didn't consider how crucial it is to work with parents and to make it a real partnership. It's something I didn't consider much, if at all, in the beginning, but I have come to value it, and I've thought of different ways to include parents and collaborate with them in the best interests of the students.

How would you describe your approach to teaching math and science?

An important idea that I try to keep in mind in all my teaching, including math and science, is balance. I try to balance the structure of the room—from whole class work to small group work to individual work. I also try to balance the types of activities that we do—from hands-on, which science and math definitely lend themselves to, to content in science and computation in math.

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