Mrs. Amy Goldberg-Tseng is an enthusiastic teacher with the iLearn Charter Schools. She is currently teaching Special Education Mathematics, directing the school’s musical, and is a member of her school’s child study team at the Passaic Arts and Sciences Charter Middle School in Passaic, NJ. Ms. Goldberg is a graduate of Rowan University where she earned her teaching certificates in Elementary Education and TOSD, as well as earning a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies for Math and Language Arts.
Amy started her teaching career in Taiwan teaching first grade for two years at a private bilingual school. She also has teaching experience at public schools, as well as a year of experience at a private dyslexia school. Amy loves playing music and doing crafts. She is currently working on receiving her personal trainer certificate and recently married Eric - a flight instructor whom she met while in Taiwan. Amy hopes that she can spread her cultural awareness with all of her students and show them to go after all of their dreams.
Put Away the Cookie Cutters in Education
We hear it, we say it, and we actually have proof that every student learns differently. So, I say it’s time to put away the cookie cutter way of teaching and embrace their differences. We know from years of studies, that no two people process information or think the same way. This is even before factoring in external resources and environment. If this is true, then why is our curriculum still following a strict path instead of permitting and endorsing the flexibility teachers are trying so hard to accomplish? And the larger question to ask is: can flexibility in the classroom and standardized tests coexisit?
Flexibility in teaching styles vary based on their settings. For teacher Ms. Lisa Baaklini, her flexibility requires “adapting to [her] students’ individual needs and working toward success academically and in life.” From observing her teaching, Ms. Baaklini adjusts based on what is best for her students. Sometimes this is taking a few minutes to discuss an issue that is bothering them; other times it requires working with the students in a more traditional setting. She is not alone in this style of teaching. If you enter any classroom, you’ll see teachers setting aside their well thought out plans to adapt to the current needs of their students.
I have had the incredible privilege of teaching in Taiwan for two years, a public general education classroom for six months, a private dyslexia school for one year, and am now in my second year at a public charter school. I am the same teacher. The curriculum is the same for all of these different settings. The biggest changes in all of these environments? They are the students and how I deliver information to each of them for individual success. The students are learning the same type of curriculum and working toward the success of assessments. They are working toward passing a standardized test to be accepted into top universities or technical schools. They are learning skills to thrive as adults.
How do we achieve success for a cookie cutter world while individualizing it? Differentiation is key, but the challenges in today’s teaching environment are many. Teachers are losing time to prepare the scaffolded work and challenging assignments due to administrative duties or behavioral interventions. Researching and planning activities to engage their students and keep them motivated is often done on personal time. Standardized content doesn’t always fit into every student’s world, address their culture, or personal needs. It is clear, fitting our individualized students into a standard system is a model that no longer works. Teachers are embracing flexibility for their students’ success. It’s time for educational policy makers and test developers to do the same so our students can reach their fullest potential.