Jennifer Irwin: Giving her students the experiences she didn’t get
Jennifer Irwin of Evolution Charter Academy grew up in a school system where she did not feel the teachers always respected their students. Now recognized as a “master teacher” by the Texas Education Agency, Jennifer can create the positive student-teacher relationships she wishes that she had during her time as a student.
Jennifer Irwin was always going to be a teacher. When she was in school, she didn’t feel she had positive relationships with her teachers. “I can remember going to school and having a lot of teachers that […] didn’t make me feel welcome,” Jennifer recounts when reflecting on her own experience in school. She took these negative examples and used them to figure out who she “didn’t want to be.”
Continually improving, Jennifer describes her self-development as intertwined with her professional development. With multiple certifications and a master’s degree, Jennifer strives to be well-rounded personally and professionally.
In her classroom, you’ll find an emphasis on a unique learning tool: highlighters. “We do a lot of domain and range,” Jennifer says. “If I can give them two different colors and highlight the differences before we read the question, we keep our eyes on the specific part of the question.”
The emphasis on focus and simplification doesn’t end with highlighters. In an effort to “take out the excuses,” Jennifer supplies a spiral notebook and pencil to each of her students that stays with their desk. Jennifer has removed the problems of “I don’t have anything or write on” or “ I don’t have anything to write with.” With a high population of students considered “at risk,” this practice allows the students who don’t have their own supplies to get help without feeling singled out.
Jennifer’s wealth of certifications and knowledge creates an environment where all students can engage with mathematics in a classroom where outside concerns can be minimized.