Janet Plunkett on the importance of fostering strong relationships in the classroom
Updated: Apr 14
Janet Plunkett, an educator at Keefer Crossing Middle School, tells her students that it’s okay to make mistakes and tries to instill in them a growth mindset. This, she says, is the ‘Plunkett’ strategy.
Janet Plunkett is now in her 26th year of teaching and is constantly on the lookout for new workshops and programs she can try to enhance her professional growth as a teacher. Already ESL and GT certified, Janet says that she’s always open to trying new things to ensure she is up-to-date with the latest guidance to provide her students with what they need.
Likewise, as her school’s district has a one-to-one ratio with technology, with each child having a ChromeBook, she tries to incorporate technology into math activities, too. She finds math games such as Drag Race particularly useful, as they allow her to gain insight into what her students are understanding, “They try it out without the fear of getting a bad grade. There’s a lot of comfort in that kind of practice, and it shows them that it’s okay to fail - and that’s how they learn to grow. I like to instill a growth mindset; that’s the ‘Plunkett strategy’.”
For Janet, the most important aspect of teaching is forming strong relationships with her students. “A lot of the students don’t come into my classroom loving math, so I need them to trust me to try new things - that’s why I place such a great emphasis on relationships.” Part of the way that Janet does this is through creating a welcoming learning environment, one where students feel open to receiving guidance and help. “I like to make the classroom warm; I share my life with them.” Janet even has a ‘personal wall’ in her classroom full of pictures that gives her students a glimpse into her life, making her more relatable.
Janet says the best part about being a teacher is watching a student make a learning breakthrough, which she says is a daily reward. Equally, when students reach out to her themselves and ask for help, Janet recognizes this as her students taking responsibility for their own learning, something which gives her great joy and satisfaction.
Photos courtesy of Janet Plunkett