Mrs. Simmons

It is Teacher Appreciation Week and we would like to honor CISD Teachers past and present by asking the community to share your stories! 

“I was in Mrs. Simmons’ AP English 4 class. There were only 7 of us in that class, so this allowed her to really get to know us, but more specifically how we learned. We had heard how hard Mrs. Simmons was from previous classes as well as previous teachers and while the content of the class was most challenging- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner isn’t a light read and neither is Hamlet- Mrs. Simmons saw when we were having trouble understanding the material and would stop our read-aloud to summarize or ask us our opinions on the subject matter being questioned by a character. Today, I take her teaching tactics into my own classroom by having the students read in class so that we can pause and make sure we are “all on the same page”. Once the deer in the headlight looks have changed to light bulbs going off, they receive worksheets on their own opinions on a character, topic, theme, etc. By making us not stick to the comprehension test, we were able to explore the text deeper and thus understand it beyond what a standard test could do. Fourth period, AP English Four was alway filled with interesting readings, heated and enlightening discussions with a moon pie or two to help us get through the hard reads. Along with reading often, we learned valuable lessons. To name a few, we learned that sometimes everything isn’t what it seems (A Rose for Emily), sometimes walking away is for the best (A Doll’s House), and sometimes it is best to not mess with fate (Frankenstein). Mrs. Simmons went beyond the curriculum and allowed us to not only understand the story, but learn from the lessons within the novels.

Looking back, one of my favorite things she did was let us watch Hamlet. We were about a fourth of the way into reading Hamlet. The 7 students and Mrs. Simmons each had multiple characters to read. It was getting confusing. Hamlet is already a hard read. After stopping several times every period to summarize so we would understand the story, she decided to let us watch the movie. So, we watched the movie while following along with the book. Not because she wanted to stop having to hold our hand so we would understand, not because she wanted to get ahead on grading papers, not because we weren’t capable of reading, but because she knew it was the most effective way for us to learn and understand. There’s a lot of stereotypes of teachers that show movies, but that day Mrs. Simmons showed me that movies go beyond a reward system and can be a teaching tool. She knew her students well enough to assess when there needed to be a change.”

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