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Posted by on June 13, 2017.

Exceptional Educator: Becky Massey, Dunwoody Springs Elementary

Becky Massey teaches third grade at Dunwoody Springs Elementary School. She has been teaching for three years.

Becky Massey.

Q: What attracted you to teaching at first?

A: The desire to help children. I have always had a passion for children, and they bring so much joy into the world, it was a natural direction for my life.

Q: Has the appeal changed?

A: The appeal has increased for me as I realize the extent of the challenges our kids are facing in their futures. I have come to love the kids I teach so much, and I want them to grow up to be healthy, happy and successful adults.

Q: What keeps you going year after year?

A: The joy my students bring me. They have the ability to make me forget any troubles I may have. Additionally, the relationships that I have with my coworkers/friends at my school are amazing. My school has a culture of camaraderie. We work very hard to be better teachers, but we balance that with a lot of humor and friendship.

Q: What do you think makes a great teacher?

A: I believe a great teacher is someone who can meet students where they are at. This means that whether that is a struggling student, an on-level student or an advanced student, a great teacher can give them the mindset and the tools to go farther than they ever thought they could.

Q: What do you want to see in your students?

A: I love to see the change in students when they go from struggling and discouraged to where they start to succeed. There is a spark and a motivation that occurs. It is a beautiful turn to see them excited to show their successes.

Q: How do you engage your students?

A: One way I like to engage students is with a flex-seating classroom. This means that during instruction, students may stand or sit on the rug or at a close desk.

Also, during work time, students have a variety of places they can sit; these include at a floor table with pillows or in comfortable chairs in the classroom library, floor seating with rugs and pillows at another floor table, stand-up desks, comfortable chairs throughout the classroom, and some students even like to just sprawl across the floor with pillows. This allows them to be where they are comfortable, and where they can do their best work.

I also like to engage my students with humor and enthusiasm. The more enthusiasm they see in me, the more enthusiastic and engaged they are. I believe the learning environment should be comfortable and an enjoyable place to be. This promotes a love of learning.

Q: Do you have a project or special program you use year after year?

A: My school, Dunwoody Springs Elementary School, is a “project-based learning” school. We have been extensively trained by the Buck Institute for Education and implement four units each year.

Project-based learning utilizes real-life situations. We start with driving questions. Students research them, utilize all content areas, come up with a solution and present their solutions to other students, parents, and community members. Students work together in small groups and learn the essential life skills of collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.

When we do these projects, I become a facilitator of student learning, as students navigate through ideas and solutions together to produce a solution. They then present their projects and presentations in many forms such as newscasts or public service announcements with green screens, PowerPoints, Sway presentations, models and essays (just to name a few).

Q: Is there a “trick” that works to get students involved?

A: Technology is a significant motivator for my students. My third-graders can email, make PowerPoint presentations, type Word documents, make Sway presentations, use Office 365, and show what they know in many different technological forms. Dunwoody Springs Elementary School is a Certified Common Sense School, which means we have given our students extensive training on the importance of “digital citizenship,” so they know how to safely utilize technology in the classroom and at home.

Q: What do you hope your students take away from your class?

A: I hope my students can take away the belief that they are capable, diligent, persistent, and smart, and they can successfully overcome any challenge they face in life.

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