Hello, my name is Addie Albano, and I will be the Classroom Solutions teacher mentor for grades 6–8 for the 2011–2012 school year. I have the privilege of teaching at Randolph Jr./Sr. High School, located in the southwest corner of Cattaraugus County in western NY near Buffalo, where resilience and optimism abound despite the grueling weather conditions and perennially heartbreaking athletic seasons! Originally a military academy, our sprawling campus is surrounded by the scenic wonders of this predominately rural area. Randolph is a tightly knit community, where everyone is willing to help residents or strangers alike. Above all, education is valued and supported by Randolph’s community members.
My road to becoming a teacher was not an easy one. My decision to work full time was put on hold so that I could spend as much time with my 10-year-old son during his early years as possible. This time taught me the crucial skills of balancing work and home life and being organized — both of which have served me well in my profession. After obtaining a BA in history, I received an MS in curriculum and instruction at SUNY Fredonia. My teaching certifications include professional licensure for students with disabilities, grades 1–6, and an extension for grades 7–9. I plan on beginning my path towards national certification next year. In addition, I have served for several years on a national RTI panel as well as on Scholastic’s National Advisory Board.
For the past five years I have had the pleasure of teaching special education in various capacities in grades 5 through 8. However, it has been wonderful to have been settled in a self-contained setting for the last two years. I teach all four core subjects and run the resource room in a 15–1 classroom for grades 7 and 8. My students are primarily classified with learning and behavior disorders or fall on the autism spectrum. This grouping poses many challenges, mostly due to the fact that I have to merge dual grade level curricula, both of which have multiple NYS tests at the end of the year. This is the perfect opportunity to put into place my favorite aspect of teaching — differentiated instruction! The thing that I am most proud of is my ability to know exactly what each of my students needs in order to excel, so that I can match their learning style to assignments they find meaningful. This requires a high level of risk-taking, but they are more than up to it, since the reward is finding success where previously they did not. Coupled with elements of Harvey Silver’s “Thoughtful Classroom” strategies, I am able to unlock potential in even the toughest students. If you asked my students, they would say my classroom “makes them feel smart for the first time” and my teaching “makes difficult material seem easy to learn.”
The motto of Randolph Central School district is “Learning With Passion, Innovation, and Leadership,” all of which I try to incorporate into my classroom. Whether it is challenging my students with project-based learning, using iPads to create voice threads, or geocaching, I try to push them to the limit. The end result is a renewed energy within my teaching and students who are actively engaged instead of just participating. A perfect example of this would be our use of Patrick Carman's Skeleton Creek series, which provides amazing videos that accompany fast-paced mystery stories. After each media clip, my students would clamor around the SMART Board and look for clues to unlock the next chapter. They would then use Flip cameras to make video predictions, which linked to Glogster pages where they had created interactive posters illustrating what they had learned. Never before were so many reluctant readers so engaged in a middle school ELA class, and I was thrilled to share in their success.
I am beyond excited to begin this new chapter in my own learning and hope that you will join me in making our classrooms the most dynamic they can be!