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5-in-5: Q&A with Teacher Theresa Bruce

Most episodes of Future of School: The Podcast feature a “5-in-5” rapid-fire interview with an innovative teacher―five minutes, five questions, five perspectives direct from a practitioner. The podcast prioritizes hearing from every voice in education, from the association and district leaders driving purchasing and policy, to the teachers delivering instruction in the online or physical classroom, to the students and parents who have experienced the benefits of having meaningful choice in education.

This interview features a “5-in-5” with Theresa Bruce. Theresa is a champion of student voice, educational equity, and teacher wholeness. She currently teaches social studies at a KIPP charter school in Baltimore, Maryland. Theresa is a leader in the use of instructional technology at KIPP. She’s also a 2019 Future of School Educator grant recipient and a 2020 Modern Classrooms Fellowship recipient.

Our 5-in-5 interview series highlights teachers’ perspectives on the future of school. Read below for an edited recap of the conversation between Theresa and Amy Valentine, Future of School CEO and Education Evangelist.

Amy Valentine: Talk to us about your first experience that opened your eyes to the power and potential of blended and online teaching and learning.

Theresa Bruce: My first experience was in 2014 when my school decided to pilot Google Classroom. It was through this system where I saw the ability to differentiate instruction in real-time.

Amy: What’s the one thing in your experience that most people who work either inside or outside the education profession seem to misunderstand when it comes to online learning?

Theresa: Most people, especially outside of the educational community but also inside, seem to misunderstand the role of the teacher in online learning. There’s a tendency to think that the teacher’s role will be diminished, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

While more autonomy may be created around tasks or silent completion, the teacher is critical to analyzing student data and building relationships. That’s something that online learning can’t take away.

Amy: What is one strategy that you think every teacher should use?

Theresa: The feedback loop. When we consistently provide feedback to students as quickly as possible, it allows our students to know where they are and to set goals for their own growth.

Amy: When you think about what the future of school should look like for students, what comes to mind?

Theresa: That’s an easy one. Individualized mastery-based learning goals for every unit.  I truly believe we need to get away from this antiquated model of the traditional “I do, we do, you do.” Instead, we need to allow young people to access content at their own pace and not move on until they have mastered that skill.

Amy: What’s your one big dream about education that you would like to turn into reality?

Theresa: That dream is what drew me to education. I tell many people that I have no degrees in education. I am certified in my state, but I have no degrees in teaching. The dream that brought me to education is that one day, your zip code, your income, and your race won’t matter in the quality of education you receive. I envision equity in resources that allow all students to live a life of choice. It’s that simple.

Future of School thanks Theresa Bruce and all of our great guests for participating in our podcast. To hear all episodes of Future of School: The Podcast, visit https://anchor.fm/futureofschool

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