“Tying in relevant and tangible evidence during lab helps as well. Students thrive in an environment that involves movement and group work,” she said. “Thankfully, I am an Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI)-certified teacher who is blessed to receive AMSTI lab kits for my students to complete.”
Frith said she also tries to take advantage of the planning periods she has in order to balance her teaching responsibilities. During her down time, she tries to maximize her time to benefit her students.
“As a middle school teacher, I have a 50 minute prep period that I try to take full advantage of during the week. This year, I was blessed with the last 50 minutes of the day, so I utilized this time to set up labs or enter grades if I wasn’t in a meeting,” she said. “I always try to set an alarm when I take work home. If I don’t, I get totally caught up in the all of the grading and lesson planning.”
Since eighth grade science isn’t a part of standardized testing in Alabama, Frith said she doesn’t have to worry about that particular type of testing. Instead, she said she tries to prepare her students through encouragement for any kind of test.
“Even if the information seems completely new to them, they can more than likely narrow their answers down to two choices. Standardized tests are like marathons,” she said. “They can be long and draining. Half of the challenge is to not become mentally exhausted and discouraged.”
Frith said she uses assessments to gauge if her students need more help understanding a lesson she’s taught. Using the assessments helps her to determine if she needs to review the lesson the next day.
“If a majority of my students are struggling, I’ll re-teach the same concept using a new strategy the next day,” she said. “If there are only a few students having difficulty, I try to speak with them individually or pair them with a peer tutor. Sometimes, just hearing the information from another peer on the same level is enough to make it ‘click.’”
Frith said she has respect for parents who ask for help in order to better help their students at home. She said parents shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help when it comes to their child’s education.
“When students see their parents invested in their education, the students tend to take more ownership of the experience. Also, try letting your student teach you,” she said. “Studies have shown that just listening to your student explain the concept will help them grasp it better. This will give you a chance to see at what point they begin to struggle, too.”
If Frith wasn't a teacher, she said she’d just be lost.
“Being a teacher is such a rewarding experience. I feel like it takes a special ‘breed’ of person to survive in the middle school world, and I can’t imagine fitting in this well anywhere else,” she said.