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Shirell Mollo

smollo56@gmail.com 630.248.3620

Teaching Philosophy
If you ask the athletes I coach, the actors I direct and the students I teach about me they will
say, I am enthusiastic. This assertion fits my teaching because I work hard to bring my
enthusiasm into the classroom as well as share my love of literature and education with my students.
In my classroom, I strive to engage the students and make them interactive participants in their
education. I present lessons in a format that includes group collaboration, directed discussions with
a strong emphasis on writing strategies. I encourage the students to create meaning through their
interactions with others while enhancing individual learning and developing teamwork skills. I
believe by incorporating these strategies into my lesson plans, if you ask those same students at the
end of the year, they will also say, I learned.

I believe education can take you places.


I believe in education and the power of literature. As a single parent, my mother worked
tirelessly to earn her two degrees and provide a better life for the two of us. I learned education can
provide opportunity and literature can connect a person to new experiences. My classroom
philosophy is founded on this belief. When students leave my class, they not only exhibit better
comprehension and writing skills but also realize literature can be fun. My lessons focus on students
developing the ability to clearly articulate their opinions about the readings in concise arguments
founded on focused understanding of the text. My lessons incorporate open discussion formats,
group and partner work and extensive writing workshops. The writing workshops allow the students
to identify their own errors and improve their writing by making corrections. The discussions teach
students to express their thoughts and opinions orally in addition to written formats. I engage the
students as partners in their education by clearly identifying the learning goals we are striving
towards as well as working on their individual strengths and weakness through ongoing mini-
conferences. After careful ongoing summative and formative assessments, the curriculum is
adjusted to reflect the learning abilities of the current class.

I believe in my students.
I believe middle school students are proud, confident and eager to learn as well as a little
insecure. Both my Philosophy of Education and Adolescent Literature courses discussed the
challenges adolescents face and expounded on ways to communicate with them effectively. The
adolescent literature courses stated pre-teens and teens learn best when they are engaged with a text
that incorporates elements and activities that are relatable to their lives. As a teacher, I guide
students towards the themes they can associate within their own lives. My curriculum I incorporates
Young Adult literature alongside recognized canon. I draw upon the feel relatable.
My classroom includes an atmosphere where the students are listened to and respected. I
challenge and inspire them to seek questions and search for answers. I invite the students to become
active participants and draw their own conclusions by utilizing their personal experiences and their
worldview interpretations. As the classroom progresses, I add new theories and information to the
existing content growing their learning base. This creates an environment of co-education, where
the students and their classmates become equal investors in the learning process.
I believe I can learn from my students.
My approach to teaching is influenced by my experiences coaching and working with young
middle school actors. I came to better understand the importance of listening to my students while
coaching middle school volleyball. Much like a teacher, I went to practices with a planned agenda. I
began practice with a brief 10-minute meeting to allow the players to express their opinions. We
then proceeded with the planned practice. At one practice a player casually mentioned that it didnt
matter what they said the practice never changed. After pondering his comment, I realized my error.
I had, indeed, given my players a space to voice their opinion but I had not allowed them to be
active participants in the practices. Despite what they said, the plan did not change. In doing so,
they became less enthused with the process and ultimately disconnected from the results. First, I
apologized to the team and acknowledged my error. I decided to adjust the way I approached
practices. I, instead, set up a general guideline for practices and then listened to their input and
adapted the practices accordingly. The players became more engaged and began to speak up more
freely helping me discern their stronger skills from those still in development and the skills they
needed to improve upon. At the end of the season, they were able to see their improvement and take
ownership of it.
As an educator, I apply the lesson I learned as a coach to the classroom. The lesson plans are
used as a guideline. I continuously monitor the students assessing their understanding during group
and class discussions and during writing workshops. I then adjust the lesson accordingly to reflect
the identified areas of concern spending more or less time on elements as needed. In doing this, the
students are more actively engaged in their education and they take ownership of their learning
because they can identify their growth.

I believe in getting involved.


A lot students share a common trait with Holden from A Catcher in the Rye, a strong dislike
for hypocrisy and they are good at identifying it in adults. What is more hypocritical than teachers
asking their students to be excited when they are not excited themselves? As a teacher, I have the
double requirement to not only instruct but to also mentor. I take pride in getting involved with my
community. As an educator, school involvement outside of the classroom allows me to support my
students in their activities and build a strong teacher-student relationship. The teachers I remember
fondly are those who were involved in the school. Their involvement showed me they had a desire
to know me as a not only as a person and not only as a student. I can still remember my high school
English teacher, who approached me after school to encourage me to get involved in the school
newspaper because he felt my papers in class demonstrated a strong writing skill. The 10-minutes
he took then and the time he spent working on the newspaper made a lasting and positive impact on
me. My involvement as a coach and theater instructor provide me with the opportunity to impact a
students life positively outside of the classroom creating a relationship which extends into the
classroom.
Throughout school year, I encourage my students to engage in the text by bringing the
knowledge gained in their social and home life into the classroom. I set clear expectations and
continuously monitor the students level of understanding and adjust according. In addition, I value
and respect my students while making them interactive participants of their education. On the last
day of class, I want my students to know they have been heard, understand what they have learned
and feel prepared for their upcoming year.