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Meeting students where they are is the best way to move them forward

10.23.13 | Change Agents: People Making a Difference | 0 Comments

Meet 2012-13 PDK Emerging Leader Crystal Timmons, who has answered a few questions about her work, service and outlook for continuing to be a Change Agent in education.

You focus on preparing preservice teachers for learning environments in urban schools. What are the two or three important lessons you impart to your students along these lines?

I learned early that most of my students were in their late teens and early twenties and connected better with “Words of Wisdom” that were embedded in Top 40 songs! So, since I aim to meet the needs of the learner . . .

Lesson#1: Expect challenges, but know that you have been prepared to handle any and all obstacles.

But just because it burns/Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die/You’ve gotta get up and try try try

“Try,” by Pink

Lesson #2: Choose positive mentors that cultivate your strengths and promote a culture of collaboration.

The trouble it might drag you down/If you get lost, you can always be found/Just know you’re not alone/Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

“Home,” by Phillip Phillips

Lesson #3: Have high expectations for all students . . . and yourself.

Who knows what miracles/You can achieve/When you believe somehow you will/You will when you believe

“When You Believe,” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey

You do a lot more than teach by engaging yourself in academic, student, and community life. Why is this important to you — what do you learn from it and what do you aim to accomplish by doing it?

When I was 16, I started volunteering at a local hospital as a candy striper. I had to ride the city bus because we only had one car, and my dad had to drive it to work.  That summer, I realized what a positive impact I could have on someone’s life. So, for the past 25 years, I have made a personal commitment to be involved with professional and community organizations that serve to provide people with opportunities and second chances for purposeful and productive lives. I have an obligation to share my gifts and talents with others; I am a servant leader.

What’s the big-goal accomplishment you have set for yourself this year?

As I increase my knowledge of the latest technology trends, I’d like to include more technological tools for students to use in an online course that I am currently updating. I’ve had the opportunity to teach this course before becoming the course designer, so I’m very excited about how the changes will enhance student learning and performance in the course.

You spent more than five years teaching elementary school. Do you ever wish you had remained a classroom teacher?

This is the easiest question, yes! I am often in schools and this is the best part of my job! When I am in classrooms I have to physically cover my mouth on occasion so I won’t interrupt the teacher. It’s not because the teacher isn’t doing a phenomenal job, it’s because I want to provide instruction to a small reading group, I want to give Mary a Band-Aid, I want to give Joshua that reaffirming smile when he solves the problem . . . I miss being a classroom teacher. A piece of my heart will forever be at Chimney Lakes Elementary School in Jacksonville, Fla.

 

Crystal Timmons headshot
About Crystal Timmons

Crystal Timmons is a clinical assistant professor in the Lastinger Center for Learning, University of Florida, Jacksonville, where she teaches five graduate-level core courses, including differentiated instruction, culturally responsive classroom management, and meeting the needs of children in poverty.

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