Episode 42: First Year Teaching with Mrs. Melanie Knight
Mrs. Melanie Knight is a first year middle school teacher at Wheeler County Middle School, in Alamo, Georgia. She is a graduate of Brewton Parker College’s education program and teaching is in her family tree. She is the daughter of teachers; her father was also a superintendent of Wheeler County Schools as well as her grandfather.
As of the interview, Mrs. Knight is in the middle of her first year of teaching. She uses many instructional strategies, small groups, individual practice, integrated technology, word walls, and other techniques to help the kids get the content. When I asked her where she learned to use these she credited other staff in her school as important mentors.
I had the great fortune of watching her teach. Not only does she have good command of many strong instructional strategies but she also emphasizes a need to develop the students’ understanding of content and academic vocabulary. She uses TIPS (Terms Information Pictures and Sentences)…this is an adaption of something she learned from Learning in the Fast Lane by Suzy Pepper Rollins and what she has been taught by other staff members to develop the students’ understanding of vocabulary.
Mrs. Knight emphasizes the need to create engagement. It is quite noticeable as the kids are up and working and part of the class. They are not passive, but active.
She also has developed an excellent rapport with the kids. She commented, “I’m strict but friendly.” When you walk in her class you are automatically aware that it is a bright and cheerful place to be. She noted, “I use bright colors to help me create a welcoming classroom.”
When I asked her what has been most helpful for her during her first year in teaching she responded, “Help and support from the school staff and family members.” She continued, “It is helpful to have someone to talk to…to talk things out.”
She is a big fan of Pinterest and finds that the social media tool is a great help for getting ideas and support for working with the kids.
I asked her what advice she would give to someone who is getting ready to find their first teaching position and she replied, “Be open to new ideas…Be open to learning…learn from everyone around you.”
Mrs. Knight’s energy and focus on the kids is wonderful!
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