To kick off the new year, we’re highlighting one of our first-year teachers at Phoenix Academy – Mrs. Chavez. Prior to coming to Phoenix Academy, Mrs. Chavez worked in special education for five years. Now, she teaches second and third grade.
We took a moment to chat with Mrs. Chavez about how the first semester went and some of the highlights of the year!
What inspired you to go into teaching?
My dad has a learning disability, and he was in special education while he was going through school in the 70s. Growing up, I remember seeing him struggling to read and spell still as an adult, not having confidence in those areas, and it really hindered him and changed his pathway. He always wanted to be an architect, but he thought “I can’t go to college; I’d never be good at that.” He had teachers who told him he couldn’t go to college; he wouldn’t be successful. That crushes me. So I decided I was going to become a special education teacher so I could tell all my students that they could do whatever they wanted to do, because that’s what kids should be encouraged to believe.
What do you like about teaching at Phoenix Academy?
A lot! My other five years in teaching were in special education; this is my first time being a general education teacher. It’s been a really cool combination of general education and special education, in my opinion, because I feel like we do a lot of specialized instruction, which is really incredible. One of my favorite things is all of our groupings are based on ability. I have kids that are grouped exactly where they should be, and I’m able to teach them exactly where they are, so they’re able to grow so much faster.
Tell me about a highlight of your year so far.
We just did our end-of-the-quarter assessments, and I cried during like four of them, because I’m so proud. I’m seeing academic progress in all areas with my students. Every single one of my students has moved up in reading. I’m also seeing social progress – how they’re interacting with other kids and their self-regulation skills.
Tell me about some of the practices you’ve been implementing in your classroom this year.
I have a lot of cool classroom management practices that I love. I use a doorbell – it’s a really quick and easy way to get the students’ attention back. I also take a piece of construction paper and secretly write a reward on it – I cover it with sticky notes that have goals on them, like having a silent transition. They help come up with them! As we accomplish those goals, we take those sticky notes off the paper, so they slowly see what their reward is going to be. It’s been really fun and motivating for them.
Thank you, Mrs. Chavez, for everything you do for students at the Phoenix Academy!