As a sixth-year educator in HISD, Ms. Munn (currently a 5th Grade science teacher at Shadowbrair Elementary) has always spent her career teaching 5th grade science or multi-grade level science labs to students ranging from Pre-K to 5th grade.
To this day, she remains inspired to create a classroom experience that brings as much fun and excitement to her students as it has brought Ms. Munn since the days when she was a student herself. “I don’t know if I can pinpoint a single moment where I thought, ‘Oh, teaching is the best’ or ‘I really want to be a teacher’. I always enjoyed school”, said Ms. Munn.
One of Ms. Munn’s favorite things about teaching her students is participating in many of the hands-on activities and experiments together, going outdoors to explore, using mud or play dough to create landforms, and even giving her students high fives in the hallways prior to start of the pandemic.
When the classroom transitioned to virtual, Ms. Munn was able to maintain their day-to-day learnings by having students build rock models or create various materials from scratch at home, perform live experiments on camera for the class, and assigning the students independent experiments to complete. Ms. Munn also credits digital platforms like Pear Docks for making the student to teacher engagement more flexible for virtual learning purposes.
Despite her excitement and passion for teaching daily, Ms. Munn admits that difficulties were faced because of the pandemic. Some of those difficulties included the inability to lecture her students in person. “I feel like it’s harder to engage them if I don’t see them and have them in front of me,” said Ms. Munn. This was especially challenging because long distance prevented Ms. Munn from having direct observation of her students to see if the student is engaged with the teaching, and to confirm if the student truly understood the assignments or topic presented during class.
“If a student even makes a little comment that’s a misconception, then I see it, I hear it, I can fix it and we can talk about it, whereas if they’re online and they’re muted, well maybe I don’t hear that little comment or that little question that they have that can be so important and vital to their understanding of the bigger picture,” said Ms. Munn. With the challenges faced, Ms. Munn admits that this year has taught her to be “flexible beyond belief”, and to take whatever the day brings her and the students in stride with grace.
Ultimately, Ms. Munn is very positive about each day that she creates with the students, the impact that she has on their lives, and the impact that the students have on her life too. “Never do I ever go home and tell my husband ‘Oh! Nothing happened at work today!’, there’s always something new,” said Ms. Munn. “It’s fun! It’s never boring. I love it!”
Ms. Munn is one of the six Houston Independent School District (HISD) teacher finalists of the 2020 – 2021 alliantgroup-HISD Elementary Science Teacher Award! This award was created to reward local teachers who, through innovative lesson plans that emphasize both the importance and fun aspects of science, are increasing student achievement and engagement.
Five of the finalists received a cash prize of $1,300 and $500 for their classroom and the grand prize winner received a cash prize of $3,500 and $500 to put toward improving their classroom!
The Blue Heart Fund was created by alliantgroup’s CEO—Dhaval Jadav—with the goal of giving back to our community and extending STEM-education opportunities to students across the nation.