Monthly Archives: March 2014

Perspectives: Maureen Nosal, Elementary Mentor Teacher, Adjunct Professor


Meet Maureen Nosal, Elementary Mentor Teacher and Adjunct Professor, who discusses student placements, characteristics of MATs, her Literacy Methods course, and why she is a mentor. View all Faculty Perspectives.

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Spotlight On Alumni: Waldina Pineda ’11

Waldina Pineda '11

In this interview, Secondary English MAT alum Waldina Pineda, who now teaches in Mamaroneck, NY, discusses her experience in Brown’s program, and how it helped her become the teacher she is today.

What were you doing before the program?
Prior to participating in the MAT program, I was an undergrad at Brown. I concentrated in Education Studies and I was happy to call the Education Department my home for an additional year. When I arrived to Brown as a freshman, I planned on concentrating in Biology and completing Pre-Med requirements. However, after participating in several education projects and taking a few Education Studies classes, I found that I was more passionate about education than I was in medicine. While at Brown, I tutored students at Hope High School and also participated in the College Guidance Project through the Swearer Center. Both experiences gave me the opportunity to work with students as an academic tutor and mentor. Teaching for a summer in Miami with Breakthrough Collaborative also helped me see that working with students was the right fit me.

What are you doing now?
Currently, I am teaching at a high school in the Mamaroneck Union Free School District in New York. Before working at Mamaroneck, I worked at a charter school in the south Bronx. I’m glad to have found the right fit with Mamaroneck. At Mamaroneck, I teach 9th grade English and a class called Academic Enrichment, which focuses on helping students build literacy skills. I’ve also had the wonderful opportunity of helping my department create and build both the Academic Enrichment and English 9 curricula to meet new district initiatives, as well as the new common core standards. Collaborating with my colleagues is really motivating. They and the work they do really push me to be better. I’m really grateful to have found a school that challenges me and gives me the opportunity to grow as a teacher.

What attracted you to Brown’s program?
As a Brown undergrad that concentrated in Education Studies, I was already familiar with all the great work the department and its professors do with students and teachers. Aside from that, I was really attracted to the size of the Brown MAT program. I visited a few larger schools and I could easily see myself getting lost there. I knew that I would get the attention and personal guidance I needed to grow and develop my craft as a teacher at Brown.

What was the highlight of the program?
Definitely the relationships I built. To this day, I still keep in contact with many of my peers from the program and I know that Laura Snyder is always an email away. I still talk through teaching ideas with some of my friends from the program—much as I did while I was in the program. The relationships I built with Laura and my mentor teacher at E-Cubed Academy were also really important. Because they both worked really closely with me, they really knew who I was as a teacher and how I could use that to really develop my craft. Through their support, feedback and guidance, I felt like I learned so much and was prepared for my first year of teaching.

How did the program meet your expectations?
I am the teacher I am today because of the Brown MAT program. I am in my third year of teaching and I still have so much to learn and I look forward to growing as a teacher. However, there are certain aspects about teaching that come naturally to me because the Brown program trained me so well. The program really does meet teachers where they are. Teaching is really personal. In addition to receiving instruction and practice with pedagogy in a whole class setting, I felt like I received support and guidance that was specific to me. I still think about the personal guidance and feedback I received during the program when I plan and teach today.

How did the program help you meet your personal goals?
I had two personal goals going into the program: (1) To gain experience and training in the field of education and (2) To find my “voice” (I am extremely shy). Brown provided me with a great amount of experience and training. Both BSHS and student teaching gave me enough experience to discuss during the hiring process and to inform my planning and decisions during my first year of teaching. Brown also helped me find my teacher “voice.” The Brown program gave me enough opportunities and experience (both inside and outside the classroom, as a teacher and student, in a team or without a team, et cetera) that put me on the spot and challenged me to overcome my shyness.

What do you like best about your work as a teacher?
The students. Working with students during undergrad inspired me to become a teacher, and my students today inspire me to be a better teacher for them. I am very committed to guiding them as they grow as readers, writers, thinkers and young people. I love seeing them grow, and it’s great to think about where they were in the beginning of the year and where they are by the end.

What would you tell someone considering the Brown MAT?
They should know that the Brown MAT program prepares them for success in the classroom. Individual support and guidance is so important for new teachers. This is what you get at Brown. I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else. If anyone has any questions, they can feel free to ask Laura for my email address!

Anything else?
I am really grateful for my experience at Brown!

Current Brown MAT Testifies to RI House Committee

Planning, teaching, assessing, attending seminar and methods courses and completing coursework to further develop your practice not enough? A Brown Elementary MAT said not quite, and gave testimony to the Rhode Island House Health, Education and Welfare committee in her spare time.

Under consideration by the committee is legislation, HB 7490, which would create a commission to develop guidelines for a statewide African-American history curriculum for all K-12 public schools. Lindsay Robinson, currently student teaching at The Learning Community Charter School, a high-performing school in Central Falls, RI, was featured and quoted in a recent Providence Journal article reporting on the committee hearing, at which she gave a first-hand perspective for why this curriculum is important.

Lindsay’s interest in the legislation was spurred by an original social studies unit she has developed and is teaching this spring, as all Elementary MATs do (not a masters thesis, as the article noted). Lindsay explains that the unit was inspired by her students’ interest in the history of African-Americans in Rhode Island, and Rhode Island’s involvement in slavery and the slave-trade. It’s a stellar example of the critical, student-centered education Brown MATs seek to foster.

Congratulations to Lindsay, and the young students who also gave testimony, for your advocacy and commitment to social justice teaching and learning.

Check out the full Providence Journal article: “Bill seeks to incorporate black history into R.I. public school curricula”

Brown MAT Alumni Wins “Rookie of the Year” Award

Ally Miller ’13, poses for a photo after receiving the Green Dot Public Schools “Rookie of the Year” award.

Wondering if the Brown MAT program will prepare you for teaching success? The answer is a resounding yes!

In the same month as we featured Ally Miller, Secondary English ’13, in our “Spotlight on Alumni” series, she has received the Green Dot Public Schools “Rookie of the Year” award! In our recent feature, Ally credited the Brown MAT for helping her to develop her teaching practice in a variety of ways, from a familiarity with popular literature she would use in the classroom to a toolkit of classroom management techniques. Like all Brown Elementary and Secondary MAT graduates, Ally finished the program with the distinction of being officially designated a highly-qualified teacher. Most importantly, in Ally’s own words, “I felt truly prepared for my career after graduation.” Ally winning this award, in a Los Angeles, California, public school network serving over 10,000 students, goes to show that not only are Brown MAT graduates ready to teach in a wide array of school and classroom environments, they have the ability to make an immediate impact as teacher leaders.

Asked how she feels receiving the “Rookie of the Year” award, Ally says, “Teaching is often a thankless profession as many who came before me have said, but this honor was an incredible moment for me and more of a giant thank you than I could have ever expected. The MAT program undoubtedly prepared me for the rigorous challenges of the field, and I know that much of my success as a teacher can be attributed to the mentorship I received during my time at Brown.”

Congratulations, Ally! We are proud of the work you are doing with your students and look forward to more great things to come!

Perspectives: Eric Shed, Director of History Education


The Director of History Education discusses the program’s holistic approach, what drives his work as a teacher educator, practical teaching strategies, creating teaching teams, and more. View all Faculty Perspectives.

Perspectives: Dan Bisaccio, Director of Science Education

Director of Science Education Dan Bisaccio the collaboration and reflective practice that characterizes the MAT program, the summer program, and the teacher research project. View all Faculty Perspectives.

Spotlight On Alumni: Ally Miller ’13

ally-miller

In this interview, Ally Miller discusses how Brown’s MAT program helped her reach her goals in classroom management, and securing a teaching position shortly after graduation.

What were you doing before the program?
Prior to beginning the program at Brown, I was studying Black Studies at UC Santa Barbara. I was a recent graduate when I began the MAT program and I had only had pre-professional experience in the classroom consisting mostly of observations and volunteering at a teacher’s assistant.

What are you doing now?
I am currently a sixth grade English teacher at a brand new charter middle school in Los Angeles, CA.

What attracted you to Brown’s program?
I was attracted to a lot of the aspects of the program at Brown, but the two top things would have to be the amount of classroom experience I would graduate with and the opportunity for an academic focused semester. It was really important to me that I would have adequate classroom time, but I found it equally valuable to have the chance to take classes in my content area from an educator’s perspective.

What was the highlight of the program?
The highlight of the program for me would have to be my student teaching semester. I had an incredible placement and I learned so much! Being in the classroom everyday for a semester really benefitted my learning and helped to strengthen my teaching practice.

How did the program meet your expectations?
The program helped to develop my teaching practice in a number of ways. I walked away from the Brown MAT program with competitive unit designing skills, a large amount of time in the classroom, as well as a repertoire of popular teaching literature that helped me secure a teaching position shortly after graduation.

How did the program help you meet your personal goals?
One of my most important personal goals was to come away with a tool kit to use in my own classroom for behavior management. I had heard that this was critical for first year teachers and I wanted to be sure to develop these skills as much as possible. From the very beginning with Brown Summer High School, this personal goal was already on the way to being met. By graduation I had had many conversations with knowledgeable faculty and mentors to help me strengthen my knowledge of classroom management. I had also read a number of sources that would help me hit the ground running when I entered my own classroom.

What do you like best about your work as a teacher?
My favorite part of teaching has always been the relationships that I get to build with my students. I enjoy getting to know them as people, learning what motivates them, and using this knowledge to help them succeed.

What would you tell someone considering the Brown MAT?
I would tell anyone considering the Brown MAT program that they should highly consider this program as an option. The Brown MAT program helps to create highly competitive applicants, and I can honestly say that I felt truly prepared for my career after graduation.

Spotlight On MATs: Hector Hernandez ‘14

Spotlight on MAT: Hector Hernandez

In this interview, Elementary MAT candidate Hector Hernandez discusses how Brown’s small cohort, and the supportive faculty and mentors, are helping him become the teacher he always wanted to be.

What were you doing before the program?
Before the MAT program, I was teaching English at an inner-city high school in Madrid, Spain on behalf of the Fulbright Scholarship. I taught four days a week and also tutored students outside of class. In addition to teaching, I undertook a personal project which involved capturing Madrid through a series of photographs and interviews with its people about their perspective towards the culture of the U.S.

What attracted you to Brown’s program?
What attracted me to Brown’s program was the intimate setting that I had heard so much about. After interviewing a couple of friends who had recently completed the program, I got the impression that though it was an intensive program, you were given ample room to ask for help and to express your ideas, due in part to the small-group setting. As I went into the program myself, one of my goals was to become vulnerable to the process—to allow myself to feel a little uncomfortable as I was pushed to observe my blemishes from the outside in. However, I had just returned from yet another enriching experience abroad, and I came back to the U.S. feeling rejuvenated and fresh. In other words, I was prepared to be challenged further. I could not have done this without the help of the MAT cohort.

What is the highlight of the program?
For me, the highlight of the program includes the MAT cohort. Teaching is a journey that you do not undertake alone. As a cohort, we are willing to push each other to become more adept learners and teachers as we take turns being strong for each other. I admit that though the work is rigorous and you may not always feel steady, you always look forward to going to class and seeing everyone again. In fact, one of the harder things in the program is to part ways after class has ended. The people in the program help me to better comprehend my teacher self as we discuss the readings, complain like our students, and laugh together as we look to what lies beyond the horizon.

Where are you student teaching?
I am currently teaching at George J. West, a public school in Providence, Rhode Island. Last semester, I taught at Highlander Charter School, and I am becoming accustomed to a different world. For example, I have an increased number of students and it has not been easy to tend to everyone’s distinct needs in the classroom. Nonetheless, I am grateful for the experience. In fact, I welcome it. It is the tougher experiences that I believe bring out the best in me. George J. West is much like the school I went to when I was in elementary school. I see endless possibilities, as well as some familiar “demons” sneaking their heads around the corridor. However, this time I return as both a teacher and a student.

How is the program meeting your expectations?
The Brown MAT program has exceeded my expectations. The pieces of the puzzle are beginning to fit into place as I look back on all that I’ve learned this past year. So far, the program has provided me with skilled and knowledgeable mentors who have invited me to make mistakes while feeling more comfortable doing them. I am also being put to the test as I confront novel challenges that encapsulate both the physical and emotional realm. Above all else, I am becoming the teacher I see myself as being.

How is the program helping you meet your personal goals?
In terms of my personal goals, the program is helping me to become more aware of them. Some of them unveil themselves after having read a particular text or after conferencing with my supervisor as we talk about different ways to hone the art of teaching. They include, but are not limited to drafting more concise and measurable lesson plans, learning to increase the ratio of student participation, and to consider who I am as a teacher in relation to my students.

What do you like best about your work as a teacher?
What I like best about being a teacher is working with my students. They make living, working, and making mistakes a worthwhile pursuit. They make my life an adventure. I wish I could better describe for you my relationship with my students. You’d have to stop by sometime. There’s nothing like hearing a student say “Oh, I get it now!” or “I’m grateful for my friends, who made me feel better when I was sad.”

What would you tell someone considering the Brown MAT?
“Either email me or call me.” That’s what my friends did for me when I was applying and it did make a difference when I was in the midst of thinking about all the details. One of the greatest things about the MAT program is the support systems you forge during your journey up the mountain. You have the MAT cohort, filled with inspiring people who will push you to challenge, question, clarify, and learn; there are mentor teachers who invite you into their classrooms so that you may learn to tap into their resources as they help you to “find yourself” within the classroom environment; you are also under the careful and caring tutelage of experienced Professors and supervisors who want nothing less than to see you grow and prosper; finally, you are teaching and learning what it means to be a lifelong learner.

Anything else?
“There are always specific, individual worlds to be changed, one by one. To name oneself a teacher is to live with one foot in the muck of the world as we find it—with its conventional patterns and received wisdom—and the other foot striding toward a world that could be but isn’t yet.” –William Ayers

We read some pretty good stuff in this program.