What makes an outstanding teacher is the ability to relate to students and motivate them to be their ‘best self’. Joanne Salustri uses BirdBrain to differentiate instruction and isn’t afraid to let students see her as a ‘caring mother’. We’re proud to announce this knowledgeable and caring teacher is our May Teacher of the Month. Read her story below.
Tell us about what led you to become a teacher!
Growing up, I found that I could turn to a teacher, whether in elementary or high school, for support and help if there were problems at home. These wonderful strangers helped me not only academically, but emotionally. I told myself that I would like to pay them back by helping children who needed a loving hand,the way they did for me. Also, I am a science geek at heart. I love learning and sharing my passion for science with my students.
What do you like to do for fun (when you’re not grading of course)?
I love gardening. My husband and I have hiked in upstate New York, in Maine, and in the Rockies of Colorado. I also have explored lighthouses along the East Coast.
How has technology changed your teaching philosophy?
When I was in Middle School and High School, the only technology available was the typewriter. In my senior year in high school, I took a lab where we taught how to program a computer by punching out paper holes!
I feel that technology has enhanced the learning experience for all of us. I have kept up with the changes in order to help my students get the most of these valuable tools. [But] I still believe in “hands on” projects and using paper and pencil. I like to balance both technology and the ‘old fashioned’ way of learning. One enriches the other.
Is there a student who BirdBrain’s helped move the needle for?
BirdBrain articles have benefitted many of my students. It’s a resource students have been motivated to read because the articles are interesting and well-written. I like the way the articles speak to their interests. In 7th grade, I teach physics. It is rewarding to see that after reading the articles and taking the free response questions, they do understand the concepts.
What led you to start BirdBraining?
I am teaching 7th and 8th students to be literate in science, and BirdBrain has truly enhanced my lessons. I like the way these articles are kid friendly. The articles from BirdBrain put a fun spin on reading–it’s great at helping them look for and understand specific information.
Do you have any innovative instructional practices you’d like to share with other teachers?
Everyday I teach six classes of Middle School students. My style of teaching changes with each class, but I always try to reach out in different ways to address all the different ways my students learn and help each student feel successful in all their endeavors. I primarily use BirdBrain articles to foster an interest in science….by using hands-on projects along with technology, I can help students in many creative ways.
What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?
I would love to be a principal of a elementary middle school. I see the opportunity for implementing so many great programs to reach every type of student as a person. Also, I would like to work with other teachers sharing ideas and cultivating their love of teaching.
I know that it would be a lot of work, but I know that this would be another opportunity to reach out to students and families.