Caroline Moore is a Bowdoin graduate and now works with Maine’s Island Institute in the Mentoring, Access and Persistence Program, which provides scholarships and support to high-school island students looking towards higher education. She discussed many benefits and details of the program in the Island Institute’s article “A new approach to post-secondary achievement,” so we decided to talk to Moore further. Below, she articulates her experience with Bowdoin Teacher Scholars and how this opportunity connected to her current job as an educator and coordinator.
I completed BTS in the spring of my senior year, teaching sophomore Biology at Greely High School. I’m still working with schools now, but in a different capacity than a full-time classroom teacher. As coordinator of the MAP (Mentoring, Access, and Persistence) Program at the Island Institute, I work with students and schools from Maine’s 15 year-round, un-bridged islands to provide scholarship and transition support for students looking to expand their educational horizons through enrichment and post-secondary education. While I’m not based in a single classroom, or even a single school, I draw upon skills learned and experience gained through my education classes and the Bowdoin Teacher Scholars program on a daily basis. Some of the links are more obvious than others.
I still use the framework of “backwards planning” as I develop unit and lesson plans for monthly webinars and our Summer Leadership Intensive (which will take place at Bowdoin this July, in collaboration with Bowdoin Upward Bound). I differentiate support based on individual needs, meeting students where they are in the process and drawing upon their strengths and interests. I acknowledge the complexity of and impact that home and other life circumstances can have on students.
Beyond individual work with students, though, my placement at Greely High School really helped me to understand the different roles and responsibilities in schools and the collaborative nature of student support, as I attended IEP meetings and was in frequent contact with ed techs, the learning center, the guidance department, and other school professionals. It is this network of people that I now work most closely with as I schedule times to meet with students and inform guidance counselors of the supports available through MAP. Thanks to this background, I bring to my work an understanding of public schools and how they function – from the tremendous workload on public school educators to state standards to roles and responsibilities – I can “speak school” in a way that really resonates with the school counselors and teachers I collaborate with. This enables me to respect their time, to ask the right questions, and to be there to listen in a trusted and meaningful way.
Lastly, I’ve come to realize that many of the teaching strategies I learned and practiced through BTS are not limited to the high school classroom. As a member of the Community Development team at the Island Institute, I find myself doing a lot of facilitation work for adults, which has so many parallels with high school teaching. Whether it’s helping a scholarship committee come to a consensus or leading an all-staff discussion, I find myself continually revisiting many tools I used in the classroom: creating group norms, allowing all voices to be heard, using formative assessment tools to check in, and asking for (and acting upon) their feedback. As I’ve come to understand more and more, learning doesn’t always take place in the classroom and it looks so different for each person, but just like anything, having the right tools makes all the difference.
Caroline Moore graduated in 2014 with a Biology major and Education minor, and is now a Community Development Associate with the Island Institute.