Joy Knight has been bringing her warmth and endless energy to elementary classrooms since 2010. In 2014, she joined the KIPP Team and Family as a founding teacher at KIPP STAR College Prep Elementary in Harlem. We asked Joy to reflect on our summer professional development and to share how KIPP training continues to push her growth as an educator.
You’ve been at KIPP for three years – what excites you about this new school year?
This will be my 6th year teaching kindergarten, and initially, I wasn’t sure I wanted to remain in the same grade – I wanted to challenge myself and try something different! I thought teaching older children would provide me with new challenges and push me out of my comfort zone. Then I received the opportunity to serve as the kindergarten grade team leader and oversee the ELA content track. I realized I could teach the same grade while taking on more responsibility and learning new skills. With this new opportunity, I have had a chance to reinvent myself! I can take the lessons from my past struggles and successes, apply them, and become an even better teacher and mentor.
How has KIPP’s summer professional development supported your growth?
These are not your average run-of-the-mill PD sessions. You are going to have fun and learn how to make content come to life for students. It’s felt very different each year because facilitators do a great job differentiating based on teacher ability and experience. I can’t say I’ve mastered everything, but I’ve gained a lot of expertise through the trainings. Last year, I tackled Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI), and thanks to tailored PD sessions, I was able to rock in CGI lessons! This year, I know I need acquire more skills to execute our Eureka Math curriculum. After summer training, I feel a lot more confident and ready to start the school year.
What was your biggest takeaway from PD?
All the information we learn is really great, but it’s not just about being intellectually prepared. YOU need to immerse yourself in the material and keep an open mind, no matter how confident you are in an area. Do you really feel the lesson? Do you see how all the little pieces fit together? Content immersion matters because it will be reflected in your teaching. Your students will see that you’re really invested in the material, and because of you, they will immerse themselves as well.
The KIPP NYC Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment (CIA) team members lead the summer PD sessions. How do they continue to support you throughout the year?
We love the CIA team – they visit our schools continually, they respond quickly to our questions and concerns, and we can always reach out for support. What I appreciate most is that they spend time in our classrooms and they will demonstrate what a lesson should look like in front of children. I respect that they are willing to roll up their sleeves and work alongside me. At KIPP, I have had great opportunities to learn from content and instruction experts within the CIA team.
How would you describe the vision and mission for KIPP NYC?
We are a national charter network committed to empowering and educating children across the country. We honor teaching and the immense impact that it will have on the lives of all our children. We are committed to our craft. And in honoring it, we are always working really hard to become better.
As the world continues to change and evolve, people at KIPP NYC are not afraid to advocate for social justice and confront the external factors that affect our children’s lives. We know it will take a village and we are committed to being a part of that village in the lives of our students. We celebrate our successes, but we also know there is hard work still to be done and we don’t shy away from this.
Why did you decide to make KIPP your home?
I feel very fortunate to work with an amazing staff every single day. We are more than colleagues – we are friends and we are all advocates for children. I do this work for the kids, because they deserve to have the best education and the best shot at success. It is always great to meet new KIPPsters and to see how much they achieve and grow in my classroom and in all the classrooms at our amazing school. And it is amazing to witness my former students excel as they progress year to year. My colleagues, our kids, and my curiosity to learn how to be the best teacher I can be for all children – these are the reasons I teach at KIPP NYC.