Teacher Institute Q & A: Amber Bruner


Amber BrunerWhat did you expect going into the Teacher Institute? How was your experience the same/different from your expectations?

I went into the summer expecting to share my ideas for Curriculum Pathways resources that would benefit preschool and students with special needs. In reality, I shared those ideas, but also so much more. For example, I was able to contribute to a project involving the potential for artificial intelligence to inform classroom instruction. Who gets to do that on summer break?!?!?

I loved the fact that every day was different. Teaching CodeSnaps to Girl Scouts on Monday, presenting on IEP data monitoring to developers on Tuesday, and learning how the internet works on Wednesday definitely keeps work interesting.

What skills did you acquire during your summer with Curriculum Pathways?

I gained so many new skills from my teacher Institute experience. I strengthened my collaborative skills, learning to work with others on presentations, projects, and research. I learned about Agile and how this approach to project management ensures that all participants are being utilized efficiently. I learned the purpose of a scrum and how a quick meeting to share what each member has completed, is working on, and what roadblocks they are experiencing helps all team members be accountable to and supportive of each other. An understanding of “swim lanes” taught me the value of creating a method for communicating the roles of each team member and the progress each person is making in order to support successful project completion. All of these skills are valuable for my special education team at Hortons Creek Elementary, and my Teacher Institute experience allowed me to bring back strategies that inform our approach to IEP management.

The biggest skill I gained was the ability to present a proposal or share information to a group of professionals. I am incredibly proud of the hard work I put into developing that skill and appreciative of the supportive members of the Curriculum Pathways team and my fellow Teacher Institute members as I faced that challenge. Public speaking has always been difficult for me but I am now confident in sharing my ideas and speaking to a group.

How has the Teacher Institute impacted your classroom/teaching?

The lessons I learned as part of the Teacher Institute and the skills gained have had a huge impact on my preschool special education classroom. I am able to use Curriculum Pathways resources more effectively with my students, coworkers, and families. In particular, I am using Crio to support student learning by creating weekly lessons that my teaching assistants can access. This provides structure and consistency for our students.  Substitute teachers can also use the lessons which is helpful when I am out of the classroom. It is a great way to share my lessons with other teachers, as well.

I also discovered new tools and resources for instruction. Project based learning, CodeSnaps, and teachingtolerance.org are just some of the topics I learned about from my fellow Teacher Institute team members.  Using these actively with my students, for planning, and for professional development have strengthened my classroom practices.

Most importantly, my Teacher Institute experience reminded me that collaborating with others is a key component of growth as an educator. Working with developers, curriculum specialists, and other teachers gave me new insight into the potential to learn from those who play vastly different roles in education. I  was inspired to seek out a wider variety of professional development opportunities and collaborative projects that will help me continue to grow as an early childhood educator.

Tell us a funny/memorable moment.

The reaction of every teacher in the room when the M&Ms are delivered on Wednesdays!

How did you feel on your first day? Your last?

On my first day, I was so excited and impressed with the other team members. When I received the plan for the summer with the guidelines for what I would be doing, I confess there was a moment of panic. It was a little overwhelming to think of accomplishing all of that in just 8 weeks. It was also a little intimidating to know I was the oldest one on the team!

On my last day, I was incredibly sad for the experience to end. The summer flew by and saying goodbye to everyone was harder than I could have imagined. Looking back over that plan for the summer and all we had done, I felt such a sense of accomplishment.

Sum up the Teacher Institute in ONE WORD.


Want to join the 2019 Curriculum Pathways Teacher Institute? Applications are now open! 


About Author

Ralph Moore

Ralph Moore coordinates and conducts professional development for Curriculum Pathways. He works with schools and organizations around the country and has presented at conferences for organizations such as the National Council for the Social Studies and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. A former army officer and social studies teacher, he spent 10 years on the Curriculum Pathways humanities team creating new digital curriculum products.

1 Comment

  1. Theresa Congelosi on

    Great post on your experience with Curriculum Pathways. I like Crio as it is very well put together and makes the process of lesson planning very organized and easy to use.

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