Susanne Whitley: Creating classroom fun and music as a motivator
Updated: Apr 14
Susanne Whitley of Northpointe Intermediate School is a teacher who understands the importance of fun, music, and movement in the classroom. Always finding new ways to inspire and motivate her students, Susanne makes sure there's never a dull moment.
Educator Susanne Whitley was always going to be a teacher. It was her dream as far back as she can remember. Starting out working as a camp counselor in her teens in Singapore, Susanne has always enjoyed working with children and helping them learn how to do new things. Now in her 29th year of teaching, she has never lost her enthusiasm, which can be seen through the way she innovates in the classroom.
"Recently, I did some room transformations and escape rooms which were really successful," she said. For Susanne, it's important to create fun in the classroom when teaching math, and she finds it keeps students engaged and excited. "I use a lot of music, movement and conversation,” she said. “Music, in particular, is a great motivator. There have been studies that show it's a great way to engage the brain and increase energy levels."
Aside from music and movement, Susanne finds that small group instruction, problem-based learning and real-world applications for math can be really effective when teaching. Likewise, she's always on the lookout for new ideas and inspiration. She praised her district for always providing brilliant professional development opportunities but said that she also looks towards new teachers in the field for their strategies and suggestions. Always with her finger on the pulse, Susanne uses Twitter to discover new teaching approaches, too.
Looking back at the challenges brought about by Covid and subsequent lockdowns and restrictions, Susanne said humor was a really big part of keeping students present and engaged. She also said it was important to allow students to have the space to connect with each other so that they felt invested and comfortable in the class and their learning.
Susanne said that teaching is a wonderful, rewarding profession where every day is different, and one of her favorite parts of her job is watching her students grow to become accomplished and well-rounded individuals.
Photos courtesy of Susanne Whitley