With a grant from Florida Blue, third-grade teacher Ms. Octavia Sloan was able to better furnish her classroom.
Octavia Sloan teaches third-grade English at KIPP Jacksonville Elementary. This year, she was honored as the Teacher of the Year at her school and recognized for her outstanding achievements as a Florida Blue Spotlight winner at JPEF's EDDY Awards. Thanks to a generous classroom grant provided by Florida Blue, Ms. Sloan purchased wobble chairs to keep her busy third-graders occupied during their lessons.
We asked Ms. Sloan a few questions to learn more about her work.
What is a day in your classroom like?
I teach third grade English Language Arts. A day in my classroom consists of laughter, morning meetings about goals, positive shout outs, disagreements, and working collectively or independently to complete a task. I have quotes hanging from my ceiling, positive affirmations on the wall, bookshelves with culturally relevant books, students’ work displayed on the walls, and a student-friendly data wall. During reading lessons, we start by reading the I Can (objective), then proceed to the lesson's Connect (a way for students to connect to the lesson). Afterwards, we dive into the lesson by reading aloud or independently, completing the gist, group work, and then the exit ticket, which is a tool to check comprehension. I post the class's average on the exit ticket on the board, and if the class makes a 100 on the exit ticket, I post a class picture of them on Dojo (a teacher-parent communication app). My day-to-day is not always the same.
Can you share a story of a student who you felt benefited from your class, or who impacted you?
I have one student who has impacted me. He has made me laugh, smile, shake my head in disbelief and think about early retirement (just kidding). This student has made me aware that I sometimes need to have a little more fun with my students and that I need to lighten up. One of my goals is to strive to make learning exciting and impactful. When the class laughs at my stick figure drawings, this student compliments me, saying "Ms. Sloan! That looks really nice!" He sends me shine as I'm teaching, especially when I'm having technical difficulties. I have learned that my students are sometimes my biggest cheerleaders.
What do you love about your school?
I love my students! I love that we have a bond and that we are like family. We talk about real-life issues, sports, movies and future plans. We have disagreements, yet we find ways to settle them. We laugh at each other, provide encouragement and sing and dance together. Overall, they're a great group of students who hold a special place in my heart.
Do you have a principal or assistant principal who has made a difference in your career? How?
My previous principal, Mr. Von Leue, has had a tremendous impact on my career. I taught full-time for three years before being under his leadership. During those three years, I felt that I didn't grow as an educator and that my administrators weren’t aware of the great things I was doing in my classroom and around the school. However, once Mr. Von Leue became my leader, I flourished and gained a great depth of knowledge on how to be a better educator.
How do you plan to spend your award money? Why is this exciting to you?
I have used my award money to purchase wobble chairs for my classroom. I knew that my students would be excited to have another option for flexible seating and having wobble chairs would eliminate students leaning in their chair. I also purchased arts and crafts items for my team.
Thanks to Ms. Sloan and all the teachers in Duval County who make a difference in the lives of students each day. Learn more about the EDDY Awards and how you can help support great teachers in Duval County through the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.