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  • Madaline Dunn

Amy Kopcznski on the importance of learning alongside students and promoting a growth mindset

For Amy Kopcznski of Monroe Middle, teaching was always in the cards. She was fascinated with it from a young age – something to which her childhood toys can attest, and she pursued it as a career with the utmost passion. Always going above and beyond for her students, Amy strongly believes in learning alongside her students to ensure that they have everything they need in the classroom to learn.

Amy is deeply committed to her professional and personal growth and always has her finger on the pedagogical pulse. In addition to obtaining her master’s in mathematics education, she’s also a member of the North Carolina Teachers of Mathematics Council, the National Teachers of Mathematics, and the American Middle School Education Leader Association. She recently presented at the North Carolina Math Teacher Conference to share her insights with other educators, she runs a tutoring program, and, in grad school, she co-founded the school’s Beginning Teacher Program to support new teachers and improve teacher retention.


A central theme to Amy’s teaching philosophy is that all students can learn, and she says it’s her job to figure out how they learn best. This means she is always ready to step outside her comfort zone to accommodate her students. Likewise, Amy’s classroom is an environment that embraces mistakes. “Mistakes are necessary for us to learn; they’re so valuable. I’m all about growth mindset,” she said. “I completely stay away from the whole ‘I'm the sage on the stage.’ I want them thinking and working, and I’m just there if they get stuck.”

To build the trust required for students to feel comfortable making mistakes, Amy said she tries hard to create an atmosphere of mutual respect. Part of this involves accepting that students will have ‘off’ days, where they’re not feeling great, and providing a space to feel those emotions and have some time to themselves. Furthermore, Amy strives to teach her students that they can learn from anyone, and to demonstrate this asks her students to sit next to those who may not be their best friends, which simultaneously enhances their communication skills.


Fundamentally, though, Amy wants her students to have fun with math and not just perceive it as another chore, but instead as a step to get to where they want to be. To ensure that the classroom is an environment where students can do this, she encourages her students to give her feedback. “Every six weeks, I have them grade me,” Amy said. Through this system, students can evaluate the classroom’s organization, her personality, the timeliness of returned work, and how decorative the classroom is. Recently, Amy explained her students gave her feedback that they wanted the classroom to be more visually exciting, so she decorated the class with a fall theme. Visual learning also features heavily in Amy’s classroom, with students using lots of manipulatives to concrete the conceptual concepts.



Ultimately, as an educator, Amy is all about uplifting her students, getting them engaged with math, and imparting to them that everyone learns differently and at their own pace, and that this is okay.


Photos courtesy of Amy Kopcznski

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