Teacher Spotlight: Shantell Cameron-Scott

Our Primary School program offers a well-rounded, integrated curriculum that challenges children to make connections across subjects and apply their knowledge. Key to that process are our Learning Expert Teachers (LET), who possess a deep knowledge of effective pedagogical techniques. Throughout the day an LET accompanies their students from classroom to classroom. Core classes are led by Subject Expert Teachers (SET), who possess deep knowledge of the content being delivered to students. The two-teacher model provides students with consistency and continuity in support and expectations while also modeling flexibility in acquisition of knowledge.

In this Teacher Spotlight, we feature one of our BASIS Independent Brooklyn second grade Learning Expert Teachers Ms. Cameron-Scott, who is beginning her third year teaching on our campus. Ms. Cameron-Scott hails from a family of educators, and she always knew she was a teacher at heart. She believes in the power of early literacy to assist students in reaching their academic potential and work at an accelerated pace. “If you introduce a child to literacy at an early age, they will make great strides in all academic areas,” shared Ms. Cameron-Scott. “For reading is the key to all understanding.”

If you introduce a child to literacy at an early age, they will make great strides in all academic areas. For reading is the key to all understanding.

Shantell Cameron-Scott

We asked Ms. Cameron-Scott some questions about her role as a Learning Expert Teacher and the partnerships she established with the team supporting second grade. The conversation below has been condensed and edited for clarity.

You are a Learning Expert Teacher for second grade. Can you share with us how that role works in partnership with SETs?

As a Learning Expert Teacher (LET), I partner and collaborate with Subject Expert Teachers (SET) inside and outside the classroom. This means we plan lessons together to ensure that each student benefits from the concepts taught. We even teach together in the classroom. For example, if the concept being taught is multiplication, I as the LET can pull small groups, whether high or low performing students, for a lesson on the same topic. This idea supports the method of using different approaches to learning.

The SET can teach the visual learners while I teach the kinesthetic learners. It’s rather difficult to do that with only one teacher. However, the LET and SET partnership allows for this to happen in one session, providing the opportunity for more growth and learning from the student.

What are the direct benefits you have seen of having an SET as well as an LET in class?

The two-teacher LET/SET model is without a doubt 100% beneficial to the students and the teachers. Having two teachers in the classroom promotes ultimate learning for students and precise planning for teachers. It allows students to engage in their unique learning styles without feeling isolated or even getting lost in the lesson.

Both teachers have that opportunity to share lesson ideas and plan the “perfect” methods to use while teaching a class. This permits success in classroom learning. Unlike many schools with your basic one-teacher class setting, having two teachers allows for maximum success for each student. Pulling small groups or even having one-on-one sessions during class time is impossible for a one teacher model classroom. With an SET/LET class, this method is used every day and in every core class. This way students are receiving support all day. It puts the phrase “two heads are better than one” into practice. Teamwork is the goal for SET and LET partnership.

Do you collaborate often with other LETs for second grade?

I love collaborating with my fellow second grade LETs; we collaborate often. We have a system where we “scratch each other’s back,” meaning we look out for one another. We also plan with each other as well. During the school year 2019-20, we decided as a team to teach the Time unit. Each of us took a section of that unit to plan. Then we brought our plans together and facilitated it with our element (class). Grade 2 LETs also collaborate by supporting one another by giving sound advice and being a shoulder to lean on.

2nd grade Learning Expert Teachers

Another example would be at the end of last school year. I returned from maternity leave to the new distance learning platform. Every aspect of teaching via internet was new for me. My team welcomed me back and supported me to make sure there was “no stone left unturned” in regard to me ending the year successfully. Grade 2 LETs work together through every situation. We are more like a family and a small community within this school.

Can you tell us about Connections class and perhaps give some examples of projects you have done with students?

Connections class is personal time spent with your students. It is one of two LET-led classes. It’s a fun, project-based class that brings to life the curriculum students learned in core classes.

Many of the projects are Humanities based drawing upon the history element of the curriculum. For example, in Grade 2 we learn about Ancient China. In my Connections class during the Ancient China unit, my class designed and created their very own newspapers from Ancient China. I have my students pretend they were news reporters. They would then take the steps to create a newspaper factory by choosing its location, name, and other elements learned in Humanities about this ancient world.

As they create their masterpieces, they are also using what they’ve learned in Mandarin about writing characters. Yes, their newspaper title is written in Mandarin. How cool is that!! Not only does this put all the facts learned about Ancient China into perspective, it also exercises the skill of Mandarin character writing.

Another example of a project done in my Connections class is the designing of covered wagons. The students begin this project during our Western Expansion unit in Humanities. While they learn all about how our country expanded to the west in search for land, gold, and other riches, he/she creates a covered wagon which was used for traveling during these times. Not only does this help promote knowledge about Westward Expansion, it also allows students to practice his/her engineering skills by planning, designing, and testing a particular project.

Connections is a class where skills are put to the test and honed into real life situations. Connections is an essential course for Grade 2 students. It’s all about exploring the world around them and making sense of the new skills required of them.

How did you hear about BASIS Independent Brooklyn and why did you ultimately decide to teach here?

I first heard about BASIS Independent Brooklyn from my sister, who is now a colleague, Shari Cameron. She is a part of our school’s administration and have always highlighted BASIS Independent Brooklyn as a high-quality school with phenomenal results. I chose BASIS Independent Brooklyn in part due to the warm welcome of administration on the day of my interview, but more due to the curriculum. It was similar to the curriculum I worked with in the past.

The school provides me with the opportunity to explore new visions and apply them with my students and team. The school also supports the idea of teachers doing what they do best. It’s different from public schools where teachers on the same grade team must teach the same concepts using the same methods. BASIS Independent Brooklyn is different, they grant us teachers the opportunity to teach the way we want as long as the skill is being taught and mastered. To me, that’s the best part of education. Education is just as unique as the teacher facilitating the lesson. At BASIS Independent Brooklyn, our uniqueness is fully appreciated by fellow teachers, administration, students, and parents alike.

Education is just as unique as the teacher facilitating the lesson. At BASIS Independent Brooklyn, our uniqueness is fully appreciated by fellow teachers, administration, students, and parents alike.

Have you always been working in education, and if so, how long?

I have been working in education for 20 years now. Even as a student in college, I had part-time jobs working as a counselor, teacher’s assistant, and tutor.

Education has also been an important aspect in my family for as long as I can remember. My grandmother, now retired, had her own early learning school. Currently my aunt is doing the same. As a teenager, I used to volunteer my services at both facilities.

I’ve always known I wanted to teach. It was something about knowing how other people look up to you for guidance that inspires me. I love the look on a student’s face when they finally mastered a challenging skill. It’s the biggest reward to watch how students grow over the span of an academic year.

Any favorite memories from the 2019-20 school year?

I have so many favorite memories from the past school year! The first will be how supportive my students were during my most fragile time. The first half of the school year, I was expecting. It was rather difficult sometimes for me to adjust to some situations (bringing items to my office, walking up vigorous amounts of stairs, hot flashes, etc.). My students would be my biggest supporters and get those items for me. For instance, I always needed to use  folder as a fan first thing in the morning. One morning, one of my students said to me, “Ms. Cameron, you won’t need a folder anymore.” He handed me a fan he brought for me because he was so worried about me being hot. Although that doesn’t seem like much, it showed me how accepting and caring my students were toward their teacher.

Another fond memory is when a particular student was having difficulty learning how to add two-digit numbers. That student would try their best by drawing objects, using his fingers, etc. Those methods are fine, but it became very time consuming when subtracting larger numbers. I never forgot the day that particular student finally learned how to use other methods, such as algorithm or taking apart the numbers. He was so excited, he jumped for joy; his entire face lit up in excitement because he just mastered something new. These are the moments a teacher lives for. The moments when that light bulb finally comes on and the student realizes that they too can learn this new skill. I would never forget the look of accomplishment on this particular student’s face.

My last memory I would share is when I was about to go on maternity leave, my students came together and made cards, notes, and videos wishing me the best of luck with my new son. I watched that video almost everyday on my leave because I knew that although I was away, my students still missed and needed me. My return to work wasn’t any different. We were practicing Distance Learning, but my students still welcomed me with the same love and support.

My favorite memories of this year all stem from the benefits of being an LET. We work closely with our students and parents by getting to know them personally. This forms a partnership that lasts more than just a school year. Being an LET is truly an honorable position that teaches the most valuable lessons such as friendship and partnership.

Thank you to Ms. Cameron-Scott for inspiring our students each day!

This post originally appeared on the BASIS Independent Brooklyn Eureka! blog.

For more information about career opportunities and open positions with BASIS Independent Brooklyn, visit our careers website.

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