Meet Angela Bunyi
Greetings from Tennessee! My name is Angela Bunyi (like Daniel Boone-yee) and this is my 10th year of teaching. I grew up in the Los Angeles area, but I’m happy to be living and teaching in a beautiful suburban community outside of Nashville now. I’m currently a 3rd grade teacher at Discovery School at Reeves Rogers in Murfreesboro, a school for the gifted/talented and high achieving. This is a change since my time serving as Scholastic’s Grades 3–5 Teacher Advisor in 2008–2009, but I am excited to venture out into this rewarding, challenging territory.
And speaking of my school move, I’m not afraid of change. I’m always up for a new challenge or adventure, and this has led me to some amazing opportunities. These include a teaching internship in Sweden for six months, participation in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund trip to visit and learn about schools in Japan, and an education that is just short of a doctorate. I hold degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as well as Tennessee State University. My degrees range from a BA in Psychology and an MS in Elementary Education with a concentration in Urban Multi-Culture Education to an EdS in Administration and Supervision. I have taught grades 2–6 and served as a literacy coach for grades K–3. Each experience shapes who I am as an educator.
Perhaps the one experience that has shaped me the most was my time as a literacy coach. This was the first time I was able to step outside of the classroom and really ask the important question, "why?" I not only had to be ready to share new ideas with other educators, but I had to be able to explain the “why” behind my thinking. The more I worked with other teachers, the more I started to formulate two tenets that form the foundation for what I do in the classroom:
1. One-on-One Matters:
I spend nearly 200 hours, or almost eight days, holding one-on-one literacy conferences with my students each year. In addition to this one-on-one time, I also balance small group instruction in all areas, including math, through a workshop method. I believe this is time well spent.
This individualized work with students happens to be the most meaningful part of my day, as I can easily assess where each of my students are throughout the year. I can also say that I know my kids as individuals. And they remember our conversations, too. In my second year of coaching, I was doing a mini-lesson with a 3rd grade class when I decided to meet with a student about her writing. When I gave her my feedback and compliments, she quickly responded, "I don't know if you remember, but that's exactly what you suggested I work on last year, and now I'm good at it!"
Having worked at three different schools and with approximately 60 teachers as a coach, I not only didn't remember my conversation with her, I barely remembered her name! For a child to remember a single conference with a visitor the year before is quite amazing.
2. The “School Way” Needs to Be the “Real Way”:
- Would we do this in real life?
- Could you imagine yourself being given this assignment?
- Is there anything to back this up as being helpful for your students?
I defend keeping real-life learning in our daily schedule. This includes taking time to talk about what we are reading, writing, and learning; having the choice to select our own writing topics and books; allowing time to try something out before being assessed; and allowing time to learn from each other.
When standards seem a mile wide, but only an inch deep, it’s easy to see how these ideals get left behind. But, when the temptation rises to cancel my book talk or writer's share time, I think about my own time spent talking about books with others and how that's helped me as a reader. I think about reading books like The Catcher in the Rye and how it was the talk with my husband that really created a better understanding for me. And while I might laugh at the idea of my husband giving me a quiz, he challenged my thinking and interpretation of the story more than any quiz could. I want to do the same for my students, and that starts with the basic premise of making the “school way” and the “real way” match up.