Jessica McCallum: Adapting teaching and the teaching environment to meet student needs
Jessica McCallum of Fairmont Middle School took a bit of a roundabout way into teaching. Jessica had less than 18 months until she could retire from her previous job of 19 years, but decided she needed a change. Teaching lined up perfectly, and she knew this was where she was supposed to be.
Jessica McCallum is very precise in her following of the curriculum hitting all the necessary standards, but she also focuses on how to properly adapt it to the individual needs of her students. To do this, she puts herself into the shoes of the students in her classroom. Her goal is to give her students as many options as possible. She uses the board in her classroom to support this kind of flexibility. It lets the students learn from the work of others and see the process behind their peers’ answers. “If they didn't want to ask me, they could look on the board and see the answers,” said Jessica.
Jessica’s classroom is built around group work and she uses technology to help make sure this work is done efficiently. The learning interactive gels with her teaching style because it allows more avenues for student engagement. It can also be incredibly fun! “If there is enough time, we may play some math games to keep them updated on things they may forget,” explained Jessica. This way, her students can refresh their math skills without feeling like they are working too hard.
To support the collaborative environment, Jessica ensures her students always feel safe in her classroom. Her goal is to cultivate a peaceful atmosphere, so her students can feel like they’re heard and respected, making them more receptive to the lessons.
Strong relationships also go a long way to make sure the classroom is like this. Jessica wants her students to always know that they can come to her if they need anything. “My students know first I am their teacher,” said Jessica, “but they also know they can talk to me if they have any problems, whether it's concerning homework or class work or if they are being bullied.”
Jessica is still improving as a teacher too. Going forward, Jessica is continuing her education with more math-based classes, so she can even more effectively communicate the lessons in her classroom.
Photos courtesy of Jessica McCallum