Sally Wood, Middle Grades Teacher

We’re profiling all of the teachers who make up our community of courageous learners, starting with our Middle Grades teachers.

We’ve introduced you to Todd Wass and Katie Jefferies, and this week, we’ve got Sally Wood!

Sally is another member of the TCS Middle Grades team, and she’s is a triple threat: TCS teacher, parent, and alum! She’s taught for 15 years with nine of those years right here at TCS.

She started teaching third grade at TCS many years ago but moved to Maryland where she taught both lower school science and fourth grade at the McLean School in Potomac, Md. She came back to TCS after her oldest, Izzy, started in 3’s/4’s and taught third grade until she moved to the Middle Grades last year.

What skills do you hope middle graders will learn by the time they graduate from TCS? How are you preparing them to learn these skills?
I really hope that my students come to realize that learning is a lifelong process, and there is a lot more to be learned from making mistakes than from getting it right. I resist putting scores on math tests to start with because I want my students to have to really look at what they have gotten right and wrong and where there are places for more learning. If they have a percentage they aren’t as motivated to look back, learn, and when needed, get help. I also offer the chance to correct your test to further learn.

The other thing I do is model making mistakes (some of them on purpose) and owning those mistakes rather than trying to cover them up. I also regularly acknowledge my lack of spelling skills because it’s important to know what your strengths and weaknesses are.

My side habit is throwing in interesting words to math lessons and then taking a minute to explain them. This week groups have learned: cease and desist, flummoxed, and lip service.

What about teaching makes you excited to come to school every day?
I love watching students in the moment when the light comes on with a new concept. I also love watching students step up into leadership roles, particularly when it is leading for good!

Tell us about one of the most rewarding moments in your teaching career. This can involve a student, family, personal achievement, etc.
Just this week I got an email from a former parent of a student I had taught twice. The student had been tasked with writing an essay about a teacher who had influenced her most, and the student wanted to make sure I got to see it. You never know what the little moments along the way add up to until you are reading about yourself and how you made a difference.

If you could meet any fictional or historical figure, who would it be?

I think it would be Fancy Nancy who shares my love of big words.

What is something none of your students know about you?

Very little. I am an open book so just ask.