Amy Velasco: Giving students a voice
Updated: Apr 14, 2022
Amy Velasco of Artesia High School understands that each student is an individual with a voice and makes it her duty to ensure that each voice is heard.
Amy Velasco was made for teaching. Passionate, caring and enthusiastic, she is an educator who really makes a difference in students’ lives. That said, teaching isn’t Amy’s first career. Before becoming an educator, she worked as a restaurant manager, but got tired of the late nights and wanted to make a change. Having always loved math, she pursued a math degree, and also found inspiration in her aunt, a teacher who Amy said has been a role model to her throughout her life. After shadowing her aunt in her classroom, she fell in love with teaching and hasn’t looked back since.
Amy believes that as an educator, you should always reflect on your teaching, highlighting what works well and what doesn’t. Likewise, she understands every student is different and tailors her teaching to meet their specific needs. “I teach the same lesson multiple times a day, but every period is different,” said Amy. “I do a period reflection, a daily reflection and a weekly reflection, making notes on what the students enjoyed, where they were interactive, and what I should change.”
Amy has found students are particularly responsive to being given choices. “In high school, students want to have a say in things, and even though I have a curriculum to follow, I find ways to give them choices,” she said. Amy explained that when she gives them a set of problems to solve, instead of assigning just five, she gives them ten and allows them to choose which five questions they answer. Likewise, in quizzes, Amy frames the questions so that students can choose to complete A, B, or C. “I find that this gives them a voice, and puts them in charge of their learning,” she said.
Speaking about the unique nature of her school and its values, Amy said that relationships are really important and there’s a real sense of community. “It’s important that students feel supported, both academically and emotionally.” She also explained that because math is often feared, and the bulk of her classes are first-year students, she takes her responsibility as a math teacher very seriously. “I’m setting the foundation, and letting them know that math doesn’t have to be scary,” she said.
Photos courtesy of Amy Velasco