2017 Florida Teacher of the Year
Blog: Solving For Why
If you were to ask Jessica what sets apart an average teacher from an exceptional teacher, she would summarize her thoughts into one word: passion. Jessica feels that when a teacher is truly passionate about education, it is exemplified in the enthusiasm placed into each and every lesson. She believes students should find their teacher’s passion so contagious that they eagerly anticipate coming to class, overcome with enthusiasm to see what’s in store for them each day.
A typical lesson in Jessica’s classroom has students actively solving for mathematical concepts presented through real-world tasks. She rarely gives direct instruction into new concepts, but rather, presents a situation to her class and guides students through identifying the new concept based on observations, critical thinking questions, and previous learning experiences. Students in Jessica’s class are excited to be given such an active role in their learning by taking ownership over the concepts being taught rather than sitting by as mere receivers of knowledge. By providing an applicable use for the Florida standards, Jessica’s lessons take on authentic meaning, causing students to learn deeper and better apply their learning in future real-world situations.
Jessica also infuses a wide variety of technologies into her classroom lessons. She believes that by giving students a variety of tools for response, research, and application, students are able to make better use of their educational knowledge. She uses applications such as Google Classroom, Nearpod, and MasteryConnect to assist in the fluidity of her lesson plans and teaching style. With each resource, she is able to see the individual comprehension levels of her students, allowing her to accelerate or remediate with ease. Her students understand the purpose of assessment and use it as a means to learn from their mistakes and grow into better learners.
One of Jessica’s favorite activities to do at her school and throughout her district is to collaborate with other teachers who also have a constant desire to grow their teaching methods. Collaboration, transparency, and constructive feedback have been tools Jessica has found to be essential in her journey towards becoming an exceptional educator.