A Great Day at the Office

It is always a great day at the office when my office is a high school classroom filled with exceptional teaching and students on their feet engaged and learning. That's the day I had today when I visited Ms. Keisha Thorpe's 12th grade Senior Capstone class at Bell Multicultural High School in DC Public Schools. Hers is one of the dozens of classes using OWEd’s Writing Program this fall.

In this Capstone class, students learn skills like listening, writing, and public speaking to prepare them for college and the workforce. While I was there, I observed students working in groups to identify the characteristics that make an efficient public presentation. Students then analyzed several videos of "elevator pitches" and shared critiques in small groups. Finally, students applied what they learned to craft their own practice pitches, completing the cycle of the learning experience. 

I found the classroom climate created by the teacher to be enjoyable. For example, Ms. Thorpe had positive feedback for every student who shared their ideas. From participating in countless observations, I know that nothing contributes more to creating a class where students want to participate than a teacher who embraces and praises students for doing so. Further, she asked students to self-evaluate and talk about what they could do to improve their presentations. Teaching them that kind of self-awareness is invaluable.

Ms. Thorpe has been teaching for 10 years, three of those have been at Bell Multicultural High School, where she also sponsors the Literary Magazine and yearbook.  In addition to teaching, she is the co-founder of the US Elite Int'l Track and Field, Inc., which is a non-profit that assists college-bound students to obtain scholarship opportunities to college and provides them with mentors through the college matriculation process.

Under her classroom leadership, the students and I were so engrossed in the assignment that the bell signaling the end of the period surprised us all. What could be a better indicator than that to show you're engulfed in a great learning experience!

Back at my real office now, the room is a lot quieter, and surely less engaging, but seeing the students so involved and thriving reminds me why the office work is needed and what kind of impact our Writing Program has.

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