My name is Bill Martin, and I am a fifth grade teacher at Challenger Elementary in Howell, Michigan. I am a second career teacher, science being my first. My first began with a B.S. degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Management, followed by various applied science and research positions before returning to pursue K-5 certification. I accepted my current teaching position soon after interning at Walled Lake Elementary. This fall will be my fifth year. I love the combination of support and flexibility that Howell Public Schools provide. There is also room for teacher leadership. I aim to collaboratively apply my leadership based on teaching concerns, which center on achieving high standards within a learning community.
Challenger is located just outside the downtown of Howell, on the same campus as many other school buildings. Challenger is one of seven elementary schools, and one of three district buildings classified as Title I. This makes it socioeconomically diverse, but it is not ethnically diverse. Of 589 students, 93.2% are Caucasian, with only 2% African American. Many class sizes are at or approaching 30 students. It has performed high academically, above 90% in Math and Reading scores. It has also achieved a composite score of A on the Michigan State Report Card.
Other upper elementary classrooms surround my room, with my students’ ages ranging from 10 to 11. Daily, students begin with an hour of “specials” instruction in gym, technology, music, or art. I teach all subjects, ELA, Social Studies, Math, and Science. Love and Logic and Morning Meeting largely embody my classroom management philosophy. Following our trend for larger classes, my last group consisted of 29 students, with 7 students receiving special education services. My classes are self-contained, with only two exceptions. First, special education support teachers push into classrooms, but they occasionally pull students for guided reading or focus lessons. Second, we team teach our math classes across the grade level. In this case, students experience a teaching style that best meets their academic needs based on observation, assessment, and student input for specific unit of study.
My recent efforts have been to work ‘smart’ at creating a learning community. My continuing challenge is involving students in the production of quality work. I am excited to apply the changes I have learned in my instructional and assessment plan to address this.
Photography by Karrie Martin Wings And Roots Photography © 2008