This week’s UClass Teacher Spotlight brings you to the Bronx!
Name: Leah Schrader
Currently Teaching: 3rd Grade
Current City: Bronx, NY, USA
How do you use UClass in your classroom?
My students are learning to gather information about current events and form opinions about them. They construct responses to the world posts and generate respectful questions and comments for class and global network peers.
We are also uploading projects for their parents and other United Classrooms users to see. My students take much more pride in their work that is displayed on UClass than the worksheets they’re used to. They are intrigued by the idea that there are other people out there that might be interested in their thoughts.
UClass also helps me guide my students in managing the responsibility of speaking to a global audience both in the conventions and intentions of their writing.
Share a great moment that your students have had while using UClass.
For a recent open house we posted a collective project that displayed my students’ life goals in the form of a passport showing where they want to go. We talked about how 3rd grade is like a passport to the world where they can learn the skills to reach their dreams.
When parents came in, they not only saw their children’s classroom and daily routines, but they saw what their children are aiming for. I gave out parent passwords and UClass welcome letters and the kids were so proud to show their parents how to use this tool at home to access homework and explore the network!
Why do you think it’s important to connect your students globally on UClass?
As my students learn their core subjects, they often struggle to apply this knowledge beyond the constricted cycles they know. They follow the same patterns every day and are told to reach for the stars without having a clear idea of a goal to reach for.
United Classrooms inspires them. It helps them to anchor their thoughts to people and places beyond what they see every day. UClass gives them the opportunity to use technology in a thoughtful way and have their hearts and minds transformed through meaningful relationships with people their age.
By cultivating curiosity and flexibility in this way, we are cultivating resilience and a sense of possibility.
Who is your favorite superhero and why?
I admire Captain Planet because not only is he the champion of the earth, which I believe needs all of the advocates it can get, but he is a leader through strengths of his people. Captain Planet is not a hero because of his own abilities, but embodies the concerns and abilities of those who come together in him. He symbolizes every great president, civil rights activist and teacher who uses their gifts to synthesize the common goals and talents of their communities.
As a teacher, I aspire not to direct a sea of students in a predetermined direction, but to facilitate the individual minds in my class to work together for a greater collective vision. With our powers combined…
What do you think can be changed about the educational system in your country?
I think that students and teachers both need to feel as though they have a hand in the subjects and methods of a classroom. The voices of the people most affected by our educational system are unfortunately silenced by a single-minded track towards improved data. I see the value in evaluation, but am frustrated when the multiple-choice overwhelms the free choice in my classroom.
I think that policy makers need to talk to teachers, students and parents and ask themselves what practices are shaping great people rather than what procedures are drilling out great scores. When I am required to focus more on skills which will help my student pass a test than on the skills which will help them to become more healthy, intelligent and empowered versions of themselves, I see shortcomings in the growth of my classroom. When I look around and see generations being raised without critical thinking and relationship skills, I see shortcomings in the leaders of the world.