We often feel in awe after filming a great teacher in action. We wish we could award each and every one of them a medal of honor for opening up their classrooms to let us document their work. They trust that we believe — like them — that perfection isn’t the goal here. It’s all about growing our practice so we can help students find confidence and success in their academic lives.
When we went inside Suney Park’s classroom at Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto, California, we knew we were in for something special. Besides being brave, she is a teacher who wears her passion for learning on her sleeve. She is fun, engaging, thoughtful, and as committed to her own growth as she is to her students’.
Recently, we found out that Suney will be awarded a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), one of the nation’s highest honors for teachers. We’re so excited for her! As part of her application, Suney submitted her video series on a climate change lesson. Today it is still one of our most popular. And in her classroom practice videos, you can see how thoughtful she is in planning an engaging lesson that relates to real-world issues. Her video “Learn by Leading” shows how she helps students take ownership of their own learning. In “Scientists & Scholars: What’s in a Name?” we see how she creates an aspirational environment that’s grounded in mutual respect and academic expectations.
When we called Suney with our congratulations she told us how proud she is of her work with Teaching Channel — she does get recognized! — and she shared with us that the experience of being recorded and reviewing yourself really does improve your practice. “It’s always my goal to be student-centered when I’m planning a lesson, but we’re all human and sometimes I throw information at my students. When I catch myself doing this, I know I’ve compromised as a teacher. But filming yourself helps you to be more mindful and reflective. When you make sure your lesson has all the elements of good learning, you can see on camera that the students get it, and it’s really affirming.”
Suney heads to Washington DC to meet President Obama and other amazing teachers in March. They’ll be discussing the future of education, like the Next Generation Science Standards, and she’s promised to check back in with us to tell us what she learns. Stay tuned. And be sure to follow Suney on Teaching Channel… see what she’s watching as she continues to grow her skills as a teacher.