Say Hello to Jessica Morgan, 5th Grade Teacher at Bullis Charter School, Los Altos
SVT: Is there something that or a favorite teacher who inspired you to become a teacher?
JM: After volunteering at inner-city schools in Boston and in squatter camps in Africa, I realized the impact a caring adult can have on the life of a child. On a daily basis, I encountered countless pairs of eyes looking at me in hopes of feeling supported and encouraged. There was such purpose in being there for the kids that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else as a career.
SVT: What do you like most about being a teacher?
JM: I love watching students engage in discovery. Sometimes they discover a reason why our world works in a certain way and it causes a burst of excitement; other times they discover an area in which they want to continue developing. This creates opportunities to collaborate with the student and develop goals and strategies for improvement, and I get the privilege of joining them on their journey toward further success. My absolute favorite part of being a teacher is coaching and watching students as they discover who they are and what they are passionate about. It allows me to recognize each of them as an individual with a unique set of qualities and abilities to contribute to our world.
SVT: How do you like to establish rapport with your students?
JM: Just as I like to know my students beyond their academics, I want my students to know me as more than just a teacher. I build rapport with my class by sharing my passions and my struggles, along with funny stories about my family or what happened over the weekend. When they can see me as a well-rounded individual with thoughts and feelings, they can empathize and even share their own thoughts and feelings. Overall, I find it establishes a strong classroom community characterized by students and teachers who work to respect and understand one another.
SVT: Is there technology you’d recommend that can help support a student’s learning?
The technology that we use regularly in my classroom consists of the tools available through Google. My students type many of their writing samples in Google Drive, which first allows them to access their files at home and at school. It also allows me to monitor and comment on their work more efficiently and effectively. Students also enjoy the opportunity to get peer feedback on their work or to collaborate within a single document. For example, as we’re finding quotes and evidence to support arguments on character change in a book, students jot down ideas and page numbers in a collaborative document and use that as a platform to have more discussions about the text. In addition to creating documents and giving feedback to students, I use Google forms to create surveys for my classroom in an effort to get student input and feedback and to track progress. For example, at the beginning of a writing unit, I will send a survey out to my students that asks them to self-assess their strengths and weaknesses and then set one or two measurable goals on which to work during the upcoming writing unit. This helps inform my instruction as well as conference with students. On top of that, I can send out a similar survey in the middle and end of the unit to get students’ comments and evidence in relation to their progress. It’s a great way to document growth in an efficient manner!
SVT: When away from school and homework of your own, what interests and hobbies do you enjoy?
JM: I love teaching voice lessons, volunteering to sing at church, and singing small opera or musical theater jobs. Music is a huge passion of mine, and I love using it as a tool to build relationships with others. I also adore any opportunity to travel or explore with my husband, especially if it involves the beach. Most of all, I enjoy spending time with kids, family, and friends, whether it is going on hikes, going out to eat, or just staying at home watching movies together.
About Jessica Morgan
Jessica was born in Germany, but after many years of moving across the globe, she is proud to call California “home.” After finishing high school in Pleasanton, she received her BA in Music at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a minor in Business Administration. Jessica then moved to Boston and obtained a Master’s in Music for Opera Performance at New England Conservatory. While in Boston, Jessica began working in the public schools doing performance outreach. These experiences ultimately led her to work in Africa with children in squatter camps. After returning from Africa, Jessica was hooked on working with kids full-time. She returned to Cal Poly for her Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential and Single-Subject in Music.
While working on her Master’s degree, Jessica had the privilege of working as the Music Program Director at the Atrium School in Watertown, MA. Her role required her to design and implement a new music program that was fully integrated across subject areas. Not only did she design and deliver instruction; Jessica used it as a research opportunity to improve education and helped her team earn a federal grant. She is an active member of the Music-in-Education National Consortium (MIENC) and consistently collaborates with a team of administrators, educators, researchers, and performers at various schools and arts organizations nationwide to develop fully integrated, differentiated learning environments.
Jessica is so happy to be in her fourth year of teaching fifth grade at BCS. Not only is the curriculum exciting; it is a joy to work with students at this age. She is looking forward to helping every student experience success in all subjects. She believes that the classroom should be a welcoming and exciting place for students to investigate and seek out a deep understanding while working collaboratively with others. This kind of learning environment is fostered when there are multiple entry points into the curriculum and when students have a variety of opportunities to build and represent their understanding.
When she’s not busy in her classroom, Jessica enjoys coaching the BCS Color Guard, singing, playing the piano, walking along the ocean, helping in the community, traveling, and spending time with her wonderful husband, Charles!