How to Adapt Teaching to Students' Needs with Melissa Townsend

Our teacher series continues with Melissa Townsend. Melissa has taught for 9 years. For seven years, she taught at the middle school level in a self contained class for children who were struggling in a standard classroom environment. In this episode, Melissa shares some of her strategies that helped her to adapt a classroom that works, no matter the issues your class may struggle with.

Melissa Townsend Background:

Melissa has been teaching for 9 years. She started off teaching students with severe emotional disabilities at the middle school. She worked with students who struggled in a traditional middle school environment and taught in a self-contained class. She has also taught at the high school level.

What do you wish you had known before you started teaching?

You can fill in the blank, they don’t teach it in college. So much of what goes on in schools, none of that is taught in college. I wish I had known that there were going to be a lot of things I didn’t know how to do.

For example, dealing with hostile parents. We weren’t taught that parents are defensive because they want to protect their child but don’t know how to compete with an educated teacher.

I try to really hear what parents are trying to say and meet them where they are so we can build a program that will support their children.

It’s never the same two years in a row, even if you have the same students. The students themselves change. If you have new students you have to teach in a new way. Every time a new student comes in you have to adjust your classroom.

Sometimes the curriculum doesn’t meet the needs of all the students. Teachers have to be able to adapt.

What would help prepare teachers for classroom teaching better?