Brittany Taylor doesn’t want her students to just sit and listen as she teaches history lessons — she wants them to be completely engaged while they learn.
“They have a committee of teachers, historians and principals,” Taylor explained. “I was nominated and then I had to write a lesson plan and teaching philosophy. I submitted my biography along with letters of recommendation.”
Taylor began her teaching career in 2012 as a student-teacher at Rockvale and has always had her heart set on teaching at the school since her first year.
“In 2012 I taught here,” Taylor said, “and I fell in love with middle-schoolers, and I fell in love especially with Rockvale. So, I added on my endorsement and taught one year at Smyrna Middle with ELA. Then I’ve been here ever since teaching history.”
The wall behind Taylor’s desk is decorated with certificates and plaques of recognition for her teaching achievements. Her nomination for TCSS Teacher of the Year 2019 is there too. The award is nice, Taylor said, but more important are the students.
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“I can’t imagine leaving the classroom. What I love about my job is the kids and seeing them learning something new and then finally getting it. Just the excitement they bring to the content itself. I love thinking about ways that I could help them grasp something that maybe they’re struggling with or making something more fun,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s teaching style and incorporation of elements that appeal to kids is commendable. It’s clear in her classroom the success of her students is a priority.
“I try to incorporate other subjects as much as I can,” Taylor explained, “like writing, because if they’re able to write about what they’re learning I can easily see – oh! They got it!”
Like all teachers, Taylor has faced challenges this year. Most recently, her husband has been on deployment with the U.S. Army. When she won the award, Tayor explained how she couldn’t wait to tell him.
“He’s been gone all school year so. That’s been a challenge personally. When we found out about (the award) I checked my email and I squealed because I was excited. The kids said, ‘let’s call your husband.’ So, we Facetimed him and told him.”
For first year teachers who may be struggling, or for new teachers who may be interested in moving into the classroom, Taylor offered this advice:
“Find a good community. I think supporting each other within the school building is important. Reach out. Because everybody struggles in or has struggled in those same ways. You can’t do it alone. It’s a team effort.”
From lesson plans to classroom engagement, the social studies students at Rockvale Middle School have something to look forward to each day in their history lessons. Taylor doesn’t believe in routine memorization or learning for the sake of memorization. She really cares about history — and the students are picking up on that.
“My favorite thing that some kids tell me is, ‘You know – I didn’t like history before – but you make it really fun.”’