Something that you want us to know about you or something about you that is interesting.
Something slightly interesting about me is that I come from a tiny town Mount Shasta, California. My graduating senior class was under 100 – I can name each and every one of them, their siblings, and where they live. I was really sheltered and never even experienced a Starbucks coffee until I was a junior in high school. I used to think driving up to Medford to shop at the mall was a ‘big trip to the city’. Secondly, I am strangely sensitive - I can and will cry at just about anything remotely sad/happy/exciting. I have the biggest heart and am extremely empathetic – when someone is upset about something, I become upset because I don’t want them to feel upset. It’s a vicious cycle of emotions! Thirdly, I am mildly obsessed with Panda Bears. I think that they are the cutest animals to walk this Earth. I’m seriously thinking about traveling across the globe to a Panda reserve in China just so I can hold one.
Explain your education & career goals.
For the longest time, I swore up and down that I would only want to teach first grade, but I’m leaning towards preschool or kindergarten now. Of course if there is a job in a third grade class, I’ll take it. However my ultimate dream would be with extremely young learners!
What brings you joy?
What doesn’t bring me joy!? Family, my wonderful boyfriend Nick, friends, teaching, food, cooking, teacher supply shopping, sunshine, my dog from back home Rosie, toddlers, crafting, and so much more!
What is your greatest fear about being a teacher?
Not being able to address every students needs. The last thing I want is for a student to leave my class feeling that I didn’t help them in any way. I want to make sure I take those extra seconds and ask my students questions about who they are.
Did you ever experience a time when something was extremely difficult to learn?
Math is not my forte. Ever since I can remember, math has been difficult for me. I always felt afraid to ask for help or ask questions. Once in college, I figured that I learn more from someone who I know isn’t going to judge me, so I would sit through class feeling confused and dumb for not ‘getting it’ and not go to a math tutor, but go to my friends for guidance. During this time, I ultimately felt frustrated and stupid.
How might this piece of your history help you connect to students with learning differences?
I think by feeling this way during my struggles will push me harder as a teacher to spend time getting to each of my students or getting them help when they need it. I do not want my students thinking of themselves as stupid – that hurts my heart to even think about.
What do you want to gain from this course?
Everything! I have never worked with special needs students or even students in a resource classroom. I just got placed in a resource practicum setting so I’m thrilled to be in both that setting and this classroom as I hope to apply everything I learn as soon as I can!

Classroom Community Building
Creating a successful classroom community promotes positive social skills and academic achievement. This task is not easy and takes much planning and practice. However, if done correctly, children tend to learn more effectively when they feel that they are a part of something bigger than them. As the teacher, you can help foster a sense of community where students learn how to work collaboratively. I chose this topic because I feel that creating an environment for your students that they feel safe, comfortable, and respected in, is what makes a great teacher and a great year! A classroom’s community will change year to year depending on the types of students you have. It is about understanding your students and creating an environment that they feel they are a part of.


1) Over 500 research studies back the conclusion that cooperative learning in the classroom produces gains across all content areas, all grade levels, and among all types of students including special needs, high achieving, gifted, urban, rural, and all ethnic and racial groups.

2) Cooperative learning is an approach to organizing classroom activities into academic and social learning experiences. It differs from group work, and it has been described as structuring positive interdependence. Students must work in groups to complete tasks collectively toward academic goals.

3) Created by Dr. Kagan, “structures” are teaching techniques and instructional strategies that are meant to “guide the interaction of students with each other, the curriculum, and the teacher.”

4) The basic principles of good cooperative learning are that: the learning task promotes teamwork and students experience themselves as being on the same side, each student is held accountable for their individual contribution, students participate about equally, and many students are engaged at once.

5) The importance for children to feel like the class is theirs and not just the teachers. This adds to a feeling of responsibility and helps children learn to take care of their things.

5outof5.gifTOP RESOURCE: http://www.kaganonline.com

This website has a variety of articles written by Spencer Kagan, the king of Classroom Community Building! There are articles on the following: interview with Kagan himself, an explanation of what community building is, what Kagan structures are, why they are important and how they work. Also included are articles on cooperative learning, specific strategies, disengagement, achievement gaps, rethinking thinking, and much more. This resource is chalk full of insightful, informative information. This is my top resource because of how user friendly and informative it is. This is the most informative but not overly wordy source I found. I will be using this in the future!

5outof5.gifRESOURCE #1: Shaw, Vanston. Community Building in the Classroom. Kagan Cooperative Learning, 1992. Print.

Turn your classroom into a caring community so each student feels known, accepted, and appreciated. These easy-to-follow cooperative learning lessons create unity, build conflict resolution skills, and foster a will to work together. This book includes 37 proven lessons and hundreds of activities which foster teambuilding, communication skills, conflict resolution skills, and mutual support.

rating-4_0.gifRESOURCE #: 2 http://www.stefaniemckoy.com/buildingcommunity/aboutwebsite.html

The purpose of the website is to provide educators with resources to build a community of learners in the classroom. As you explore this site, you will find research stating the importance of building a classroom community and how a few minutes spent each day can reshape a whole year of behavior. In addition, you will find links to online resources of community building activities as well as a list of books.

rating-4_0.gifRESOURCE #: 3 http://www.teachingstrategies.com/content/pageDocs/BPC_Ch2.pdf

This document is an electronic section on Building Classroom Community from Teaching Strategies Incorporated. This is 52 pages of worthwhile reading. It is full of subjects that go along with classroom communities: The Value of a Classroom Community, Welcoming Children to the Classroom Community, Using Meetings to Build a Sense of Community, Helping Children Relate Positively to Others, Promoting Social Problem-Solving Skills.

rating-4_0.gif RESOURCE #: 4 http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?title=Classroom_Community_Building_Strategy&video_id=234426

A short video explaining the purpose of an “I’m good at..” board. Very creative neat idea to get students working with one another forming that classroom community! I would love to incorporate this into my classroom.

rating-4_0.gifRESOURCE #: 5 http://www.wholeschooling.net/WS/WSPress/CommBldgMH.pdf

This PDF file was written by an elementary school teacher describing the ways they have made their classroom a community. It gives specific examples on how to do so: provide voice, be friends, promote respect, work together and problem solve, student leadership, individualize and discuss, and understanding of multiple intelligences. This is a good resource because it was created by a teacher so it’s a firsthand experience type of document.

rating-3_0.gifRESOURCE #: 6 http://performancepyramid.muohio.edu/pyramid/early-childhood-education/Classroom-Community-and-Diversity.html

This site has a lot of shorter pages full of really insightful topics on classroom community. Shorter sections are a little easier to comprehend. Pages titled; Community as a Whole, Importance of Classroom Community, Ways to Build Community in the Classroom, Classroom Community and Diversity, 10 Best Practices, Classroom Community Wisdom, Specific Ways to Build Community in the Classroom, and Classroom Meetings.

rating-3_0.gifRESOURCE #: 7 http://www.responsiveclassroom.org/category/tags/building-classroom-community

This is a compilation of teacher blog posts on the topic. Some posts are longer than others, but all are tips, tricks, or advise about classroom community building. There are also replies from other educators that are also quite informative.

rating-3_0.gif RESOURCE #: 8 Martin, Margaret. Building a learning community in the primary classroom. Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic, 2007.

This is an extremely dense textbook and is very wordy. I would recommend this to college students and higher specifically for those going into the education field. One must be dedicated to read this, but I feel that in the end it would be rewarding because of how in depth it is!