Spotlight on Mrs. Glenda Glenn
Throughout my career as an educator I have had the incredible good fortune of working with many master teachers--teachers who knew how to inspire learning and personal achievement, going well beyond just teaching a required curriculum. This post will highlight the work of one such teacher who graciously agreed to participate in this interview.
I would like to introduce you to Mrs. Glenda Glenn*, who currently works as a 7th grade Social Studies teacher working with students who demonstrate high academic ability and achievement--children who are indeed a challenge to challenge. At the beginning of every school year every teacher in the world probably starts with the list of expectations for the class: "Thou shalt not... and Thou shalt...". And while Mrs. Glenn certainly has very high academic and behavioral expectations that focus on a culture of personal best, she goes well beyond the reading of any rules. In fact, I always loved how Mrs. Glenn begins the school year! It's just powerful! Everything she does in the classroom is research-based, best practices. Learn about this and more in our interview.
1. Mrs. Glenn, you were an instructional lead teacher** who taught teachers for many years, and then you chose to return to teaching students in the classroom. I'm curious why you chose to return to the classroom?
I had developed such a repertoire of strategies that I was anxious to apply them in the classroom myself. I also missed the energy of adolescents, their curious minds, their thoughtful responses, and their creative essence. I have not regretted returning; I have rejoiced in it!
2. Of the many instructional best practices you have taught teachers and personally used in your own classrooms with students, which one(s) have become some of your personal favorites and why?
My favorite strategies are those that bring the real world into the classroom… and all integrate technology. Currently I’m taking an online class that involves “Mining the Internet” for Social Studies resources. Streaming video, primary documents, audio files, virtual field trips and simulations…these are rich resources to add authenticity and visual power to my lessons--to connect my students more deeply to the content.
I employ strategies in broad strokes, preferring to plan in units so I can ensure I develop plans that offer effective note taking, reading and writing in the content area, higher level thinking skills, and appeal to a variety of styles and interests. UBD, Understanding By Design, is an effective vehicle for accomplishing this goal. To sum it up, I’d say, plan deep and wide…flavor with variety, infuse technology. (And authentic and varied assessments should accompany the authentic and varied strategies used to teach.)
3. What best practices do you recommend all teachers implement at the very beginning of the school year to establish expectations for high levels of student success in their classroom throughout the school year? And would you share why you are elevating these to this level of importance.
Teachers MUST practice differentiation to meet the various levels of readiness, interest and learning styles of their students. In order to effectively accomplish this, the foundation for a learning community must be established in the first month of school. Students need to understand from day one that they have a strategic role in the learning environment. See: Carol Tomlinson
While others may post rules and emphasize the behavior management plan, I’m teaching “intelligent behaviors”. These strategies place students as the key players at the helm of their success. It’s empowering for them, and energizing for me as I don’t intend to spend my day talking “at” them and correcting infractions, but facilitating and engaging them in the learning process.
4. You are a very creative teacher, I would love for you to share with our readers how you have gone about implementing the above in your classroom.
Well, I am the CEO (Chief Educational Officer) of the GIA ”Glenn Intelligence Agency”. We conduct global investigations and practice intelligent behaviors! I prefer to be proactive rather than reactive, so I teach my students these behaviors, or habits of mind, that I learned two decades ago when I heard Arthur Costa speak. See: Habits of Mind
Learning styles and multiple intelligences follow as students take a variety of surveys that eventually shape a learning profile. Not only does this assist students in developing meta-cognitive skills, but it is invaluable as I plan flexible grouping for differentiation.
5. From your vantage point as a master teacher who gets amazing levels of academic achievement from students, where have you seen technology fit into the classroom in ways that really empower learning?
Blogging is such an effective way to showcase your classroom and map your curriculum plans. I’ve been adding streaming video to mine. Importing photos or even simple midi-files such as the national anthem of the country you’re studying encourages students to visit the blog to see “what’s new”.
I design student projects with choices of products that effectively utilize software: creating professional brochures in Word, constructing tables and charts in Excel that examine statistics for deeper meaning, Keynotes or PowerPoints that add the visual dimension, two-minute i-Movies on social issues such as world hunger or child labor. Students need to master basic technology skills, and the 21st century educator must think way beyond PowerPoint.
Our classroom is equipped with Promethean Boards, Video/DVD players, overhead projectors and two student computers. We have a fabulous new version of ActivBoard that allows me to create flipcharts with graphic organizers, import photos, audio and video, and create assessments that allow students to immediately respond with their handheld “eggs”.
The temporal factor is one that challenges us as educators. But, I don’t ever want to defer opportunities to implement technology when I'm pushed for time. Differentiation is always a beautiful option: I put a student who’s mastered the pretest “on assignment” to create an i-movie or podcast to expand knowledge for the entire class. Students can also design ActivBoard flipcharts, websites or webquests. I put their minds to work when mine is busy!
6. This blog focuses on practical practice and empowering classroom teaching and learning. What final thoughts would you like to share with our readers?
I’m approaching sixty, and I’ve found that I never quit learning. Learning motivates me and keeps me vibrant. Modeling lifelong learning for my students is paramount to helping them develop their own thirst for knowledge--a thirst I hope is never quenched.
* Professional Bio
Glenda H. Glenn, Ed.S., entered the teaching profession as one of the first certified gifted teachers in the state of Georgia in the mid-seventies. She taught gifted resource classes and now Advanced Content classes, but in between she spent a decade as an Instructional Lead Teacher**. Her teaching never ended at 4:00, because she has been an adjunct professor at three Atlanta-area colleges over the years and taught a number of staff development classes in Cobb County. Mrs. Glenn is a certified Blackboard instructor and enjoys the online environment, both teaching and developing online classes.
Her career has enabled her to travel extensively with students as well as participate in four international teacher exchange programs, including a Fulbright to Japan. Her passion is creating deep and meaningful lessons that connect the classroom to the real world. Mrs. Glenn has received numerous state and national awards for writing innovative curriculum, including the prestigious Leavey Award from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, and the Sidney P. Marland Award from Johns Hopkins University Center for Policy Studies.
** Instructional Lead Teachers in Cobb County teach professional development and work to support and empower teachers as they learn and implement best instructional practices in the classroom