Dominique Bivins is a special education resource teacher at District Heights Elementary School and holds a dual bachelor’s degree in special and elementary education and a master’s in special education. She has been teaching for 23 years
Teaching and learning are a big family legacy. I am the daughter and mother of teachers, as well as the sister and sister-in-law of a school psychologist and a school administrator. However, this did not push me immediately into being a teacher. While I took a roundabout route to becoming a teacher, it was one of my best decisions! I’ve realized that working with children gives me a boost of energy unlike anything else.
I started as a classroom parent helping teachers in the French immersion program at what is now Dora Kennedy French Immersion School in Prince George’s County. I created tapes of classroom books to help students. I loved the excitement that reading in a new language brought students. I became a secretary soon after and later taught at Dora Kennedy.
I take my collaborations with colleagues seriously as this has given me many different ways to approach student needs. Being able to think creatively is absolutely necessary in order to get my kids the support they need to make progress in school. This allows me to help my students grow and access learning. One example of this is using a wagon at school. Many colleagues laughed or rolled their eyes when I came in with my big red wagon, but I use it to get reluctant students into the building rather than causing more stress for them or parents. It was also a great way of helping students regulate their energy. They love to pull it around the school to carry my bags and books up and down the hallways and ramps. I also use rolling chairs to help my students who are restless and fidgety.
My style mirrors the needs of my students—whether it is using a Kindle or computer so that students can listen to a chapter book or having a student talk out the answers into a computer to help scribe their work.
I am currently working with a second-grade student who was not learning but is making progress with constant one-on-one support. I’ve had to use a lot of alternate ways such as jumping together on the trampoline while practicing letter sounds, running up and down the hallways shouting numbers, or practicing not slamming open doors. He is now making words and short sentences moving towards reading books, and we are thrilled!
Over the years I have met some dynamic professors, teachers, and leaders who have helped me understand that teaching is not just about the students but also about helping the parents navigate their learning needs and helping the educators understand their parents and students. I have worked with several administrators who encouraged me every step of the way in my journey. I’m eager to see young college graduates and career changers like me join the teaching profession. There is nothing like seeing the joy on a student’s face when they make exciting progress, or seeing their parents or guardians light up when they’ve had a wonderful day.