Friday, July 27, 2007


July Feature: Jennifer Jackson

This month Jennifer Jackson will be talking about her experiences in the classroom, her ideas on teaching and education research, and her philosophy for embracing change. Jennifer just joined Center for Inspired Teaching as a Research Associate after four years in the classroom and a Master’s degree in Urban School Psychology. She has devoted her career to enhancing education opportunities for students and continues to employ her professional experience and academic background to inspiring change in the classroom.

Part I: The Importance of Teacher Networks

Jennifer’s introduction to teaching was rocky: she was so frustrated with her experience at her first school that she quit mid-year. “It was difficult. Very difficult. There were a lot of students who were only two or three years younger than me. My first year, I quit because I was so frustrated.”

Jennifer didn’t give up though. She started her second teaching job the next year and resolved to do things differently. Quickly, she realized that one of the most important resources available to her as a teacher, especially a new teacher, was the advice, perspective, and institutional knowledge of other teachers in the school.

Throughout the year Jennifer worked with other teachers in her school to create lesson plans, share classroom management strategies, and discuss student progress. The community of teachers collaborating and supporting each other empowered Jennifer; she no longer felt isolated in her classroom but part of a larger effort to educate her students. Jennifer recounts, “It made a big difference. Before that I was not able to build strong relationships with my students. Having that support stopped me from feeling like ‘I’m a first year teacher, this is my classroom, you handle yours.’ That collective attitude helped me out.”

In addition to gaining useful advice from her colleagues, Jennifer felt supported by a community of like-minded and compassionate educators. She discovered that many of the frustrations and challenges she experienced were common to other teachers. As such, she no longer had to work through her struggles alone but instead could work within a supportive group that motivated her to succeed.

Creating a teacher network within or outside a school community is a valuable resource for educators. As Jennifer learned, “You may not have all the answers. To be connected to someone else is really important.”

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