Off To A Good Start

My first week as the new lead teacher in the Acorns class has been a whirlwind. As I’m catching my breath and doing a bit of reflection, one thing that has been a constant all week is the support from the entire Chicago Friends School community — from my fellow teachers jumping in with their own personal knowledge of the students, to a quick lesson idea when the schedule shifts, to parents touching base about their students and being a tremendous help during the school Halloween party.

My biggest goal for my first few weeks at Chicago Friends School is to become familiar with each students’ learning style intimately to help me do my best teaching here. Despite the small classroom sizes, I am witnessing diversity in action: one student is a tactile learner and makes deeper connections to content through physical touch, one student is motivated by pure inquiry and stays engaged through asking questions, yet another student shows me they are in deep thought about the material when they are showing visual representations of their thinking. As with all learning, there has been some trial and error on my part — I am still learning how to keep my math mini-lessons short and giving students more hands-on time. I am also learning to discern the underlying cause of a student’s (rare) refusal to work — is it due to fear of a challenge or some innate belief they hold about the way they learn? As I continue to ask and answer these questions over the school year, my biggest hope is that the students continue to feel that they are in charge of their own learning and growing as much as I am responsible for nurturing them.

To that end, I am excited to explore the value of community this year with the Acorns through our family history project in social studies. I am continually impressed by the students’ ability to discuss how their histories make a lasting impression on the way they move through the world today. One interesting thing that a student said to me after I introduced the project to them was that everyone in the world is “technically related since we all have a common ancestor and that makes us all one big family.” I really couldn’t agree more!

[Eds note: Mooni took over the grade 2-3 Acorns classroom in late October after the birth of the previous teachers’ child.]

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Mooni Abdus-Salam

is a classroom teacher for grades 2-3. Mooni is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. She received her BA in English from Roosevelt University and has worked in educational settings in Chicago Public Schools, not-for-profit organizations, and in Chicago City Colleges. While earning her MEd in English Language Teaching and Learning at Loyola University Chicago, Mooni transitioned to working in independent school settings. She completed the assistant teacher program at Latin School of Chicago in the Gold Coast and spent two years working in a mixed grade elementary classroom with a neurodiverse student population.

Outside of teaching, Mooni enjoys running, reading, writing, traveling, and learning new ways of advancing the literacy of linguistically diverse students.