We are proud to introduce our 38th Sunday Spotlight, featuring CharlesAnn Raney who is a first year Algebra 1 teacher in McKinney, Texas. As a first year teacher, CharlesAnn prioritizes building good relationships with her students, supporting her students’ progress in Algebra, and finding her balance. She uses digital assessment to quickly evaluate progress toward TEKS standards and daily objectives. When not in the classroom, CharlesAnn enjoys painting, running and golf. We hope you enjoy the interview with CharlesAnn!
Algebra I Teacher
McKinney Boyd High School
1st year teacher
“As a new teacher, right now my goals are all just about finding balance. I want to manage my classroom and have control without my students feeling stifled. I want to put hard work and time into my job without forgetting to take care of myself. I want to use data to improve instruction without forgetting that behind the numbers are beautifully made, unique individuals.”
– CharlesAnn Raney
Get to know CharlesAnn Raney
What do you love about working in education? What motivates you?
Teenagers are impressionable. I teach math as a front. Really my job is about getting to be with students every day, getting to know them, and being there for them. Any time I feel as though I have made a difference, even for one student–best feeling in the world.
Why did you become a teacher?
My teachers made an impact on me, and I want to do the same for my students.
What is your “Edulastic story”?
My cooperating teacher was using Edulastic in his classroom when I was a student teacher. I was skeptical of any kind of digital assessment for the math classroom, but when I saw everything that Edulastic could do, I knew I would be using it in my own classroom. Now I have shared it with my team and department.
Describe your favorite Edulastic “aha” moment.
I am all about relationships. I teach academic and inclusion classes so my students are not typically interested in math…or school in general. Building relationships helps me motivate kids. Not grading papers helps me have more time and energy. This translates to being able to relax and focus on getting to know and attempting to motivate my students.
What are your teaching/learning goals this year?
As a new teacher, right now my goals are all just about finding balance. I want to manage my classroom and have control without my students feeling stifled. I want to put hard work and time into my job without forgetting to take care of myself. I want to use data to improve instruction without forgetting that behind the numbers are beautifully made, unique individuals.
Sum up your teaching philosophy in a few sentences!
I believe that all people have a desire for trustworthy, dependable relationships. I believe that people are inherently good and that all people have an inherent desire to succeed. Teachers, by building trust and forming relationships with students, can bring out the best in their students and have a lifelong impact.
Favorite motivational idea:
My students often ask when they will use Algebra after high school. Sometimes my response is a quote I heard from Rick Rigsby, “the way you do anything is the way you do everything.” I explain to my students how this quote implies that your character is built when you do everything to the best of your ability. Planning to work hard and be successful later in life will not work as well as practicing having a strong work ethic now.
Tips for new Edulastic users:
Edulastic has so much functionality that it can be overwhelming at first, but I have not found a better way than Edulastic to digitally assess students in math and still hold them to a high standard (as opposed to all multiple choice questions). My best method of getting to know any kind of technology is trial and error. Over time I have become more and more comfortable with Edulastic, and Edulastic gets better and better.
Students will be overwhelmed at the amount of functionality Edulastic has too. Kids have tons of options on how to answer questions. I learned it helps to preview assessments and show students how to answer all the different question types via the projector as you use them.
Favorite Edulastic question type?
Spring or Fall?
Best tactic for getting the class quiet?
“Give me 5”
Must- have classroom Decor:
Kate Spade “sort it out” file organizer
Kindest compliment you have received from a student or teacher?
My favorite thing I have heard students say is “Mrs. Raney, I’ve never understood math before, but I get it when you teach it.”
Funniest student moment?
I have one student with autism who is SO FUNNY every day. He keeps me on task if I get off topic, treats our school athletes like superstars knowing all of their stats, and is a math genius. He also seems to have a bit of a crush on his Algebra teacher and once randomly walked up and tried to hold my hand. I’m married, but I was flattered!
How do you like to spend your free time?
Playing golf, running, watercolor painting
Favorite time of the school year and why:
My favorite time of the school year is the beginning of the year, because we play the “name game” and my classes have so much fun with it and remember it all year.
Greatest accomplishment in the classroom this past year:
At the beginning of this year, a fellow teacher saw a student’s name on my roster. The student is repeating the entire ninth grade. She had him last year, and she frowned and said, “He won’t pick up a pencil.” I respect this teacher and expected that she would be right, if he would not do anything for her, how could I expect he would work for me? Still, I could not help but take these words as a bit of a challenge. Every time I noticed the rest of the class working, I would go sit near this student. I was annoying. I asked him if he needed help, and he would say “Go bother somebody else.” I would smile and reply, “As soon as you do this one problem,” or “At least write your name.” The first nine weeks, I could not get this student to pick up his pencil and write his name. I kept sitting by him. I kept annoying him. I held a calculator five inches from his face to get him to turn it on. I may or may not have turned his class on him and bribed them with brownies, if only he would do five math problems. He did. I might have brought brownies. He started opening up to me a little. When he told me he was probably going to the disciplinary alternative placement school soon, I was sad. He was placed in In School Suspension the day before his placement and when a student worker came to get his work, I had the class write notes to him. He was out of my class for a few months, but he came back. He remembered our notes. He smiles in class. He sometimes picks up his pencil. He made a 70 on his most recent test. We have a handshake. He will probably have to repeat the ninth grade at least one more time, but I will definitely take him back in my class. He is a beacon of hope for me that I can turn my classroom around by making my “worst” students some of my best relationships.
Why did you want to join the Edulastic Innovator Team?
When I learned about the opportunity to apply to be an innovator, I was immediately on board. I had already been using Edulastic for about a year, and I was interested in having a say in the continued growth and progress of the site. I love being on the innovator team and seeing that this tool is going nowhere but up!