Abigail Hasebroock teaches English & Reading with expertise in grammar, composition, essays, public speaking and reading comprehension; she’s also one of the Teachers We Love in 2021. Learn more about her in the interview below, and at The Teacher Marketplace.
Why did you become a teacher?
I became a teacher because I love literature and want to share my joy with students. I love introducing a new text, whether it is drama, fiction or nonfiction, and capturing students’ interests. My happiest moments are when students burst into the classroom energetically discussing a character, concept, or conflict in a text!
What is the funniest moment you’ve experienced as an educator?
Students wrote short stories and one student ended his story with this cliffhanger: “If you want to know what happens next, give Brendan at least a B+ on this assignment.”
How has the last year affected your students and your teaching approach?
The pandemic changed our bell schedule, which meant we had fewer instructional minutes. So, in order to make those minutes count, I shifted from classroom-based assessments like quizzes and tests to a project-based assessment: a year-long portfolio. Students would build a website and collect artifacts of their learning throughout the year. They could work at their own pace (outside of the class period) and make creative connections to our course content. Their final projects were stunning testaments to their learning.
What’s a creative solution you use to keep kids engaged or motivated during COVID?
My students enjoyed opening class with a bellringer and background music. I would select music that matched the tone or theme of the lesson as a teaser; sometimes students could guess the objectives in advance!
Soliciting song suggestions from students is another way to get to know your learners; they can share something they are listening to on repeat, how they discovered the artist, and what they like about the song. They will get so excited when their song was featured at the start of class. We were known to have spontaneous dance parties too!
What resources do you like to use in the classroom or in teaching remotely?
Peardeck, Google Slides, Canva, Padlet, Sharpies, and poster-size Post-Its.
What is your experience with bullying in the classroom?
Challenge the students to set classroom norms for behavior. Within the first 5 days, I ask students to come up with three community agreements in the following categories: Participation, Technology, and Respect. These simple statements are ones that they agree to hold themselves and others accountable to. For example, a Community Agreement around Respect might be, “We agree to maintain eye contact during class discussions.”
The teacher can create a Padlet and have students submit their own Community Agreements, then have the whole class upvote their favorite idea in each category. Create a poster with the final agreements and post it in the classroom. Since students created the norms, they are responsible for upholding them and fostering a productive learning environment. The teacher can refer to the norms when students are off-task or otherwise inattentive and encourage students to be upstanders.
How do you gauge if your students are succeeding?
I meet with students 1:1 and have them explain their thinking. I found that when students submitted an essay or project, I didn’t have a full understanding of why they chose their topic or what they were hoping to achieve. Talking with students individually gives them an opportunity to explain their process and progress.
I also provide evaluation rubrics at the start of a project, then ask students to self-evaluate during our meeting. The grades they give themselves are typically not far off from a grade I would assign, but hearing them explain how their product meets the learning objectives and standards is an essential part of gauging student success.
What’s a fun thing students don’t know about you?
I am passionate about travel and write reviews of local restaurants and cool sites. It’s fun to document my own travels and encourage others to pursue new experiences while supporting local businesses and tourism.
What’s the one book you wish all students would read?
Atomic Habits by James Clear.
What is your primary educational goal, and what are you most proud of as a teacher?
I want students to embrace their own learning potential through hard work and self-agency. I am most proud of my ability to include contemporary subject matter and EdTech tools to engage learner interest.
Meet More Teachers We Love in 2021
“Teachers We Love” is a co-production between Parentology and The Teacher Marketplace. To meet more amazing teachers, visit the Teachers We Love 2021 section.
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