Teacher Spotlight: Chevon Chenault-Starnes

  1. What grade do you teach and how long have you been teaching at MMA?

I teach grades 1 & 2. I have been teaching at MMA for three years and am excited to head into my 4th year!

  1. What made you choose to teach at MMA?

MMA is very special! From my first time in the building, I immediately felt that the staff loved the students and that they were there to make a difference. I wanted to be a part of that.

  1. In what ways do you build a family-like atmosphere in your classroom?

The students in my classroom, for the most part, have been with me and each other for the last three years. We have all learned to love and respect one another. We all help take care of our environment by cleaning and organizing it daily. The best part is that we make up chants for one another when a task, such as reading all of their sight words or completing a Montessori work plan, is completed. We do this so that students can feel accomplished and their classmates are helping them succeed.

  1. What’s your secret ingredient in your classroom? What techniques do you use that students really gravitate toward?

I think making each student feel safe and loved is the secret ingredient in my classroom. I have some challenges that I face but I constantly remind myself that each student is different and that each one needs me in a different way. For example:

  • I have a few students that need hugs daily. Whenever they ask I make sure they are given a hug.
  • I have another student who just wants to tell me about his day and then he can work. So I make sure to lend an ear whenever he needs me.

I think my students gravitate specifically toward being able to solve their own disputes. The Peace Corner and rock-paper-scissors to settle disputes are “magical”. We have less arguing and disagreements and more cohesiveness.

  1. How do you keep students engaged?

I make learning interactive and interesting. From making up movements to math problems to using candy to form craters in a moon made of flour, I keep them laughing during my lessons and they cannot help but stay engaged. One of their favorite things to do is review for the NWEA every Friday by using an app called Kahoot. The students are so eager to solve math problems or analyze stories via this method.

  1. How are creativity and innovative thinking used on a daily basis in your classroom?

My students collaborate daily. They are encouraged to work with their classmates to take on new ideas that they themselves may have never thought of. My students set goals for themselves for each trimester for NWEA and Fountas and Pinnell and they think outside of the box in order to achieve those goals. The students use variation in their learning when it comes to tackling a problem. I also try to make sure I get creative with how I teach my lessons so that the students stay engaged.

  1. How would a student best describe you?

I think my students would describe me as bubbly, funny and smart. They enjoy my high energy when I am teaching – especially during science.

  1. What would your colleagues say about you?

I think that my colleagues would say that I am honest, hardworking and resourceful.