Fellow Profile: Polly Specktor

ImagePolly Specktor is a member of DeLeT Cohort 12 at HUC-JIR. She is completing her internship in 3rd grade at Brawerman Elementary School West in Los Angeles, CA.

Polly moved from Minnesota to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. She worked in the field for five years, but started to feel that her career was not fulfilling enough. She had always wanted to become a teacher, and observed a class taught by a DeLeT alum who told her about the program. Polly was very attracted to the idea of becoming a day school educator, and was excited to be accepted into the DeLeT program.

At the end of the first summer semester of DeLeT courses, the fellows write and teach a micro-lesson to their peers and faculty members. When Polly was
teaching, she was surprised at how natural she felt; it was validating to her, and reinforced that she had made the right decision. She had very little teaching experience before entering DeLeT, but now she feels at home in the classroom, as well as with the students. She is trying to take in everything the program has to offer, and believes in the core education philosophies of DeLeT. She feels herself grow as a teacher every day.

When DeLeT fellows are taught to write lessons, they are shown how to break a lesson into the basic elements of instruction. This approach has really resonated with Polly, and she tries to implement them into every lesson she leads. She finds that her lessons are much better because of this approach. She also makes sure to reflect after each lesson. She appreciates that in DeLeT the fellows are encouraged to take risks, just like they encourage their students to take risks. It’s how everyone learns.

Polly’s favorite course so far in the DeLeT program has been the Reading Language and Literature class. As a student she always loved reading, so learning how to successfully teach reading in the classroom was something that really interested her. Through this course, she has learned about Reading Workshop, a reading program in which each student reads a book at his/her particular level and of his/her choosing. The teacher then meets with the students individually or in small groups to go over reading strategies, and leads a mini-lesson about a relevant skill. Polly is hoping to implement some of these strategies in her own classroom because it helps inspire a love of reading for its own sake.

Polly is completing her internship at Brawerman Elementary School, and she feels like her placement was perfect. She loves working in such a supportive environment, and has had a wonderful year. There are also DeLeT alumni there who have been very supportive, and she has been able to go to them if she finds that she has questions about any aspect of the program. She has had the opportunity to get a lot of hands-on experience in the classroom, as Polly’s mentor has really given her the space to practice what she has learned. She appreciates the trusting relationship that they have developed.

Maybe in the future, Polly will consider pursuing a master’s degree, but for the next few years her main focus is being in the classroom with the students. She wants to focus on bringing what she has learned in the DeLeT program into her own classroom and putting it to use. As an intern, she has had the space to try techniques in her mentor’s classroom, but Polly acknowledges the difference between that and having her own classroom about which she can really feel a sense of ownership. Next year, she is excited to have accepted a lead teaching position at Brawerman, and is looking forward to continuing to learn, and continuing to grow.

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