Teacher Tribute
Teacher colleagues share ideas after hours

Pizza and PSSA's

Who ordered the tartufo pizza?

Sitting at a corner table at Stella's at 2nd and Lombard on a cold January night are five members of NID's Teacher Network: Joanna Bottaro, Amy Gottesman, Lisa Hantman, Patrick Kennison, Celeste Rodriguez and NID staff member Pam Prell -- here to share pizza and conversation.

But this is not just any social gathering. These seasoned network members are part of an informal inquiry group that meets monthly to support one another through the stresses of teaching in public school, share stories about their students' service-learning projects, reflect on their teaching practices and get ideas that will inform their research on how this teaching strategy is impacting their students.

Patrick Kennison teaches science at Harding Middle School in Frankford. He is exploring the impact of service-learning on students’ self direction. In between bites of piccante pizza he describes a recent visit to his 7th grade class by State Senator Tony Payton, who talked with the class about parliamentary process and the importance of listening to another’s point of view.

Celeste Rodriguez, who teaches 8th grade at Grover Washington Jr. Middle School, is looking for ways to document students’ interaction when one is in the thick of teaching a lesson and managing a class of 30 rambunctious middle schoolers. Lisa Hantman offers a practical solution: create a simple chart with boxes each labeled with a student’s name and use it to jot down observations.

The teachers take turns sharing and listening. At the end of each gathering they pull out calendars to pick a date and place for their next time together.

Besides their membership in NID’s Teacher Network, these teachers have much in common: they strongly believe that NID’s approach to teaching leads to transformation for their students, a hypothesis they hope to demonstrate through their yearlong action research projects, and that a slice of Stella’s pizza is the perfect antidote to a stressful day.