Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: B.S., Physics
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Algebra 1, grades 9-12
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Fifth year or post-baccalaureate Noyce scholar
Name of Noyce institution:
Current academic or teaching status:
4 years experience
School and school district:
Born in Jerusalem, I am a firm believer that wisdom is learning from every person, even if it’s what not to do. I owe much of my patience and calm to my four loving younger siblings, who supplied endless opportunities for drama. Growing up in Silver Spring, MD and attending a private Jewish day school, I studied a dual curriculum ten hours a day. After graduation, I took the chance to see the other side of the world in Israel and learned that Medieval Hebrew has scant resemblance to Modern Hebrew and surprisingly doesn’t have important words like ‘electricity’ or ‘bus fare.’ After learning about electricity, gravity, and other sources of energy through a B.S. in Physics at the University of Maryland, I entered headfirst into the world of education. Like many first-year teachers, I was amazed, bewildered, and competent in turns, but care for my student’s success, creativity and downright stubbornness saved the day, with some assistance from a very good principal. After completing a Master’s of Arts in teaching mathematics, I am excited about bringing enthusiasm, knowledge and persistence to CHEC as the big (or little) sister who is always willing to discuss new ideas or just lend a ear.
Why do you want to teach:
In a classroom, I watch for the ‘quiet ones,’ who for reasons unknown do not or cannot express themselves even in this safe place. Their silences fall in odd places, just after a vacation, during lunch, at the edge of a heated discussion, times when their peers are resounding. I listen to them closely, trying to hear the voice of their silence. Perhaps my own affinity for silences and language emerged from a socially awkward adolescence. Never sure what to say or when to say it, silence became far more potent than speech, and I developed a profound empathy for those who didn’t quite fit in. Others filled the silence with personal revelations that I found startling, inappropriate, and sometimes frightening. On some level, I realized that these confessions, stories, and rants were requests. Perhaps to be heard, to be reassured, to be comforted, and to have their own story retold to them. So I did. In retrospect, the silence and compassion combined to be a refuge of sorts for a number of friends with backgrounds of depression, anorexia and abuse. In the years since adolescence, I have found my own voice amid the stories of friends, family, my people and self-retold. I view teaching as the opportunity to show how to retell something in a thousand different ways but still reflect an essential truth behind it all. For me, an adolescent at risk looks like a person with too many songs, too many identities, and no theme running through them all, someone whose life has been co-opted by forces within and without. Amid the jangling silences, all I can do is I offer what I have: silence when they speak, and a voice when they can’t.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
Last September, I turned down a hall, walked up two flights of stairs, and marched straight into Hell. Room 232, as it is known to the unwary, is a large sunny room in the middle of a sunny suburb on the edge of the perpetually gloomy District of Columbia. Monday through Thursday, four to four forty-five, this normally serene and peaceful room descended into chaos, as twelve students and one teacher fought battles largely symbolic but still noisy, brutal, and often wounding. In the harsh glare of twenty-twenty hindsight, it still amazes me that thirteen relatively kind, generous and happy people could so regularly contrive to make each other so miserable. As the the teacher and the one ultimately responsible, I soon came to realize that it wasn’t the lack of care, or understanding or even persistence, but fundamental flaws in my classroom management. The goal of classroom management is to create an environment conducive to learning by removing physical, logistical, and behavioral barriers and encouraging self-awareness and intrinsic motivation. That year I learned that classroom management is about everyone learning, everyday, in whatever ways it takes. Human beings are natural learners and organizers. Every class that walks in the door already has its own internal social structure and organization. Some of them are more conducive to learning, some aren’t. In the first few weeks of school, the student rapidly learns the structure and implicit rules of the class, the ones that will be enforced and the behavior that will be tolerated. (Seider) No teacher can correct every type of behavior every time and so they must “choose which hills to die on.” (Seider) If the class is structured by clear expectations, directions, and acceptance then learning becomes the easiest all possible behaviors for the students.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
An opportunity to learn and expand my understanding of education.