19 Jan Featured Educator – Spencer Hill in Syracuse, NY
We often say how proud we are to work with amazing educators across the country, and Spencer Hill is no exception. Spencer is a first grade teacher in her second year at Dr. King Elementary School in Syracuse, NY and she embodies the characteristics of a No-Nonsense Nurturer in her classroom. We recently spoke with her to find out more about the impact of No-Nonsense Nurturer model and Real Time Teacher Coaching in her class.
What was your initial reaction to this work?
Our principal had signed on for our school to use No-Nonsense Nurturer and Real Time Teacher Coaching school-wide. At first, I was nervous to have someone potentially coaching me while I’m teaching; I thought someone would be rambling in my ear while I’m trying to teach over them. I was also thinking that I am already strong at management, so maybe I don’t really need to use No-Nonsense Nurturer.
How has No-Nonsense Nurturer and Real Time Teacher Coaching improved your classroom?
I have actually found it helpful! It laid down the foundation for me that being consistent is one of the number one most important things in my classroom. No-Nonsense Nurturer allows my kids to know what the expectations are all of the time. Now I’m at the point halfway through the year that these routines are already ingrained in our classroom culture. My students already know the expectations; they don’t have to guess what they’ll be doing.
I’ve been Real Time Teacher Coached since last year. Having the coach giving me cues in real time helps me confirm what I’m doing that is right and make small tweaks to be more effective. Then I know I’m on the right path.
What would you say to a teacher who isn’t sure about Real Time Teacher Coaching or No-Nonsense Nurturer, but knows something needs to change?
I would tell them to have an open mind. I thought this would be just another person in my room to criticize me, but the coaches are only there to help you get better. Once you can get your classroom management down, you’re able to teach content more. If you try to do what they are coaching you to do, it will work. Just give it a chance, because it does work!
Do you have any advice for teachers to set them up for success for the rest of the semester?
I would say to take it one day at a time and try to set short-term goals for yourself. If you’re consumed by everything when thinking about the work you have to for the rest of the entire semester, take small steps. It’ll be worth it. And, don’t forget to take time for yourself at home and leave work at work!
Finally, how do you show your students love?
It’s important for me to talk to my students about something other than academics and make deeper connections. I do something called “fun lunches” where eight students come up to eat with me in the classroom as an incentive. We sit and talk about our families and whatever else interests them. I’ve even had my family members come in to class, like my mom, so the kids can see me not just in a teacher role but also that I’m a person outside of school.
Thank you Spencer for your dedication to serving the students of Syracuse and your commitment to improving your own practice. We’re proud to work with you and the rest of the staff at Dr. King Elementary School!