“It is my belief that the best way for kids to succeed is for them to learn how to think. If they can learn how to look at a situation from many angles, figure out how things work, and be inspired to solve any problem that comes along, then no disability, disorder or any other silly label we stick on each other will stand a chance.” -Spencer
My name is Andaiye Spencer, but you can call me Spencer if you’d like. I am a 3/4 homeroom teacher here at Summers Knoll. We call our class Team Spencer, because that is what we are, a team.
Most of my adult life has been dedicated to learning and practicing the art of education and the processes of learning. As a student of The University of Michigan, I was receiving my BA in Elementary Education when I was diagnosed with several minor learning disabilities. Upon completing the program and receiving my Michigan Provisional Teaching Certificate, I felt that I had been unsupported in the program and left school feeling incompetent and ineffective in my chosen profession. I didn't feel that I was a good teacher. I then found a graduate program at Eastern Michigan University called Drama/Theatre For the Young. Through this program I explored learning through all of the senses, experiential learning techniques, game learning, and Theatre in Education. In this program we were not only taught to use the techniques, but their method of teaching involved using these techniques to teach. Suddenly I found myself getting better at reading for information, listening in class, and writing coherent papers. These were all areas that I struggled with, but now I was succeeding in them. I discovered that I was intelligent and could be an effective educator. Upon completing the course I decided to make it my goal to educate in a manner that allows all students the ability to learn and succeed in school despite differing learning styles and to learn their value before they gave up on themselves.
I have worked in many different capacities, in many different schools both here and abroad. Throughout my travels I have had the opportunity to visit hundreds of schools in The United States, The United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Australia. I have been able to observe and discuss a myriad of learning styles and teaching techniques that I have added to my education arsenal. I believe that students today will have to complete on a global scale and that it is important to observe the way many different countries approach education.
Ms. Frizzle, from the Magic Schoolbus, says, “Take Chances, Make Mistakes, and Get Messy!” I take these words to heart. Students should be encouraged to not to be afraid to try, and not be afraid to mess up. Getting messy just makes it more fun. I want them to experience as much as possible and to fail in a safe environment as much as possible, so they can use their failure to create bigger, better, stronger ideas.
In other schools, my style of teaching has been criticized. It has been said that my class moves around too much, is always playing and has so many imaginary things in it that people get confused. These were actually the goals of my class. I welcome these things. I am glad that I am now teaching in an environment that allows me to use games and imaginative play to aid in student growth.
I also feel that it is very important that the students be treated as an equal in their learning process. I encourage students to lead their own conferences and be constantly reflecting on their own behavior and progress in the class. They need to be able to reflect and communicate who they are and what they need as a learner in this classroom.
3rd and 4th Grade Teacher