Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Mary DiSchino

Grade: 3–4

Location: Cambridge, MA

Setting: Urban

Years Teaching: 27

Describe one of your biggest challenges in your professional career.

It was the spring of 1980 when teaching all came together for me. I realized then that I could no longer teach as I had been teaching, and that I needed to change. I decided that I was going to teach in an "alternative program." Now, of course, with the maturity of years, I know that I really didn't need to change programs to change what I was doing. That's okay. At the time, I felt I needed to be recognized and identified as an alternative school teacher. I left behind the textbooks and started to think how I would expect the children to learn, and what I could do to help them learn. What materials could I choose to use to help them learn, as opposed to "This is the book you're supposed to use." It was very exciting, very scary, and very hard.

How has your approach to teaching changed over the years?

I absolutely adore being with the children and really teaching them, focusing on what they need to know instead of what I need to teach them. [During my early years of teaching], I hadn't identified the difference, but it is a pretty powerful difference to me now. What changed was that instead of thinking about what I was supposed to teach, I started to think about what they needed to learn. It was the other side of the coin. And once I owned that and really understood it—that I was a facilitator for them—my practice really changed and the classroom changed as a result. Listening to the kids is what makes teaching exciting for me now.

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