Erika Scissom

The first answer to any question is not always the best one. With this idea in mind, Grundy County middle school English language arts teacher Erika Scissom has been experimenting with something she calls the “Stop ‘n Jot technique.”

“It requires students to connect, ask questions, and dig deeper into their reading into order to understand texts better,” she says.

It also gives students the time to apply their reading to the question at hand, supporting their answers with evidence from the text. It moves the discussion from one driven by the opinions of students to one that is focused on textual analysis. It also encourages more students to participate, especially students who might not have the answer instantaneously.

“This strategy has really helped my students become stronger readers in the classroom and be able to participate in classroom discussion more freely,” she says.

Finding success with new techniques and classroom strategies invigorates Ms. Scissom. She aims to consistently help students engage with their reading more deeply and express their ideas through verbal and written communication in order for them to be prepared for opportunities after high school.

“Reading language arts unlocks communication skills in various forms that all students need in order to succeed in life,” she says. “Students must be able to read and write to be successful whether it is through the college path or the vocational path.”

Reading and writing have such a direct connection to a student’s future success. The importance of her subject motivates Ms. Scissom to continually refine her instruction.

“Teaching is a field with the opportunity to change the future and to make a difference in the world around you, day by day,” she says.

Bio: Erika Scissom has been a teacher for 12 years. She received her master’s in instruction leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys traveling, hiking, and coaching her middle school’s volleyball team. Find her on Twitter at @ScissomErika.

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The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the goal that every student in Tennessee graduates from high school prepared for postsecondary education and the work force. SCORE was founded by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, MD, and it drives collaboration across the state on policy and practice to ensure student success. We believe that we can achieve our goals for Tennessee’s students by empowering people to lead change on behalf of students, insisting on high expectations for what students can achieve, and fostering a culture of innovation.

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