Devorah Servi (Cohort 7)

I’m in my second year at Ohr Eliyahu, an Orthodox school in Los Angeles, that is known for accepting students with learning and behavioral challenges. Early on, they had a policy that when such a student was admitted, the family needed to also enroll all other siblings in order to create a “mainstream” setting. Thus the school calls itself a “family school.” It’s also relevant to know that boys and girls learn in separate classrooms from kindergarten. It’s been interesting to think about how to modify lessons after the first presentation for the other gender!

Both last year and this, I’ve had the opportunity to teach math and Language Arts to elementary and middle school math classes. For the middle school math classes, a class of 19 or even a class of 9 is divided into 2 or 3 groups, each with its own teacher. The grouping allows us to differentiate instruction according to content, competence and aptitude.

One way I’m acting as a teacher-leader in my school is by providing some in-service instruction to colleagues, based upon my own professional development experiences. I also collaborate with the other math teachers, sharing tests, reviews or other resources I’ve designed. I’m excited that this year math teachers will be meeting regularly to share challenges and promote solutions.

There are several challenges I’m still facing as a new teacher. First, is classroom management, especially in the all-boys classes. Secondly, and closely related, is finding a way to introduce more engaging applications of mathematics to real life. What I enjoy about doing this is that it’s very creative and the students come alive. For example, I did was a geometric shapes on the school campus scavenger hunt for a pre-Algebra class. They loved active learning. Finally, one of my challenges is to be patient with my aspirations. I know I want to include music, movement, the arts and drama in my teaching, but I also know that this needs to be done with discernment and appropriate pacing. DeLeT gave me the disposition and the tools to constantly grow through evaluating my teaching and its effectiveness.