Class Act! 10 questions for Lori Quillen


Submitted by Denair Charter Academy

Name: Lori Quillen

Family: Married with two little boys

School: Denair Charter Academy

Subject taught: Sixth- and seventh-grade home-school independent studies

Experience and education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Azusa Pacific University. I have taught kindergarten in Southern California, second grade in the Turlock Unified School District and have home-schooled middle school for a local charter family. I also have been a youth ministry leader for 10 years.

What most inspires you about teaching? I’m inspired when students realize that they’re capable of more than they realized.  This might be academically, but could also be socially or emotionally.

What are your biggest challenges as a teacher? My biggest challenge is convincing students that their education is a priority when they have personal or family challenges outside of the classroom that are, understandably, distracting them from learning.

What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? My favorite teaching strategy is called Power Teaching.  It’s a method of instruction that engages students with visual, auditory and kinesthetic interaction to maximize their learning potential.  Not only is it a fun way of learning, it’s a fun way to teach!

How has Common Core affected your classroom strategy? The biggest switch has been moving from teaching to the test, where student would regurgitate memorized answers, to teaching students to justify their thinking.  Students are now being challenged to provide evidence for their answers.  For example, this last week in math I asked students to become math lawyers and defend their answers by providing each other with a visual to demonstrate their thinking.

What do you want your students to remember? The theme in our classroom is ATTITUDE.  Every week we begin class by reciting a quote that ends with, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our attitudes.” There are variables in all our lives that are out of our control, but attitude is the one thing over which we alone have the power.  Attitude is a little thing that makes a huge difference.

How can parents support what you do? Parents can engage their students by holding them accountable for completing assignments accurately and on time, challenging them to think outside of themselves and providing a broader perspective on the world around them.

What’s next in your classroom? Something new I am incorporating into our classroom this fall is number talks.  This is an activity that helps students develop computational fluency by challenging their mental math skills.

What would surprise people about your job? They might be surprised to realize that my students only attend class one instructional day each week and then I have individual appointments with their families.  As a result, I have the privilege of working part-time, wearing both my teacher and mommy hats throughout the school week.  This is a precious gift that is not lost on me.

What do you do for fun?  We recently got a trailer and are experimenting with becoming a camping family.  I hear people love it, but it sounds like a lot of work! I am hoping it’s an opportunity for us to get away from the distractions of daily life and allow us to refocus our attention on the relationships that matter most.

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