Jenny Walker: Constantly strategizing to adapt to the needs of students
8th grade math teacher Jenny Walker of Dixie Middle School is teaching a lesson to all teachers that putting your students first in and outside the class can only lead to one thing, success for both.
Throughout Jenny Walker's life, she has been drawn to teaching. When she was trying to figure out what her career would be, she tried a few different routes but ultimately settled on it because it was what she wanted to do the most. “I played school all the time as a kid. I always had a desire to be a teacher,” she said. “I tried dental hygiene, travel and tourism, and CIS. I always came back to teaching.”
In order to build success in the classroom for students, a comprehensive plan is needed because students learn at various speeds and their individual needs vary widely. To account for these differences, Jenny really gets to know her students. “I have found the best teaching strategy is building a relationship with my kids,” she said. “I do my best to show them I care about them and I want them to succeed. I celebrate success with them because I believe success breeds success.”
This approach allows Jenny to be strategic with how she teaches and adapt to what her students need. She knows she cannot apply the same plan to every student and it is not always effective to apply the same methods across the classroom. “I use multiple strategies since all kids learn differently,” she said. “We do group work, partner work, one on one work, and peer tutoring.”
Outside of her classroom, Jenny aims to make the most of her time by finding things that will translate back to her own teaching and trying to become a better teacher each time she has the chance. “I attend conferences, follow teaching blogs and sign up for virtual conferences to learn new ways to help my students,” she said. She also plays an active role and lends her expertise to the wider teaching community. “I have presented at conferences, helped in item test writing both on the state and district levels, participated in state testing rubric validation, [and] been department chair for multiple years,” Jenny said.
The most impressive view in the entire district might just be at Dixie Middle School in Jenny Walker’s class. “My classroom is beach themed, full of pineapples and flamingos,” she said. “I try to stick with the theme when celebrating success. I probably have the best view in the entire district.”
Photos courtesy of Jenny Walker