Four years ago, this random teacher was assigned to work as the in-class support teacher in one of my Chemistry classes. There were a number of kids with IEPs who needed a learning specialist in the room to support them in areas that I was not specifically trained. I had never taught an in-class support class before, and my methods are a bit on the radical side for most people, so I was really nervous that this pairing wasn’t going to work. Add to this the fact that this teacher was special education and Social Studies certified. What could she possibly do to help in a Chemistry class??
Melissa has become an integral part of my teaching life, so much so that I am actually frantic on the days when she isn’t there. Our routine used to be that I was the Chemistry expert and she was the learning expert. More often than not, she needed to spend more time in class counseling students on life and school problems more than helping them pass the class assessments. She has a natural calming effect on everyone (teenagers especially) and helps to make the classroom a comfortable learning environment. But this year she has become so much more! Now students are turning to both of us when they have Chemistry questions.
This year, we have been flying through the curriculum. It isn’t because the material is too easy or because we have such exceptional students (although, they are pretty fantastic people!), but rather the class now has 2 teachers teaching Chemistry on a daily basis.
How did all of this happen? It’s actually really simple. From the day we met, I told Melissa that we are partners in everything that happens in class. I don’t make decisions about what we are doing without talking to Melissa first. When I decided to make this the #RoomofAwesome I texted her before I told my wife. We try to meet and plan the class every day, not just during on our common planning periods. The students see us as a team and we act like it in everything we do. You can usually find us together at meetings, at lunch, and, most importantly, talking to teachers about how to establish a positive working environment.
I don’t know what I would do without Mrs. Gohar. The Room of Awesome wouldn’t be the same without her!