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Meet Lynn Early, Georgia's 2017 PBS Digital Innovator

This year, Lynn Early, a K-5 Talented and Gifted teacher from Mimosa Elementary School in Roswell, was selected as Georgia’s 2017 PBS Digital Innovator. This top honor from PBS was awarded to 52 educators across the country. 
The PBS Digital Innovator program brings together a community of PreK-12 educators, who are thought-leaders and classroom changemakers, for ongoing professional development and opportunities to share strategies, empower peers and inspire students. The PBS Digital Innovator program provides professional development opportunities, a three-day, all-expenses covered summit in San Antonio, and support and tools from PBS and local member stations. 
About Lynn Early

Over the past 13 years, Lynn Early has a taught in a variety of classrooms. Her experience covers pre-school and all elementary grades and includes teaching accelerated math, science, social studies and reading/language arts to K-3rd grade students. Lynn currently teaches Talented and Gifted classes for grades K-5. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Master’s in Elementary Education. She holds a Talented and Gifted certification and recently finished a Reading Endorsement Program. Lynn is a member of the Fulton County Schools Vanguard Team, a group of teachers selected to plan and demonstrate the use of technology in the classroom to improve teaching and learning. 

What is your favorite aspect of teaching?
There are many aspects of teaching that I love. For example, I love making connections and building trusting relationships with these young people. Knowing that I have the potential to positively impact the lives of my students motivates me to do my best. I also love strategically planning lessons that generate excitement about the content and inspire students to do more than they thought possible. Another aspect I enjoy, is when students are in the struggle to make connections; they are not quite at that “ah ha” moment and I help them embrace failure(s) so they will understand that these struggles are what eventually propels them toward success.
What does learning look like in your classroom?
I try to give students as much autonomy in their pursuits as I can. Students understand the expectations and I give a lot of verbal feedback, moving from group to group or student to student so students can reflect on areas that need attention or appreciate their successes. Persistence is rewarded and questioning and reasoning are encouraged. Support for one another is required. The character values of students are important and empathy is taught and expected.    
How do you get students excited about learning?
I use inquiry, mystery lessons, “what if” brainstorming, and problem solving scenarios to stimulate curiosity. I also use artifacts, primary sources, (thank you PBS) and experiments to make learning concrete. If you are engaging critical thinking skills among your students, not only are they excited about learning but the act of teaching is more compelling for the instructor. When you are consistently challenging students, they begin to expect, embrace and look for challenges to tackle.  
You were recently named Georgia’s 2017 PBS Digital Innovator. What are you looking forward to most with this role?

First, I would like to thank PBS for providing a platform that recognizes teachers who are committed to the profession. I look forward to learning from and collaborating with other innovators. I am humbled to be included among such a talented group of teachers and I am excited about the possibility of establishing relationships with these like-minded peers. Receiving recognition for your efforts is motivational. I am using this motivation to continue my professional development and plan to share what I know with others.    

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a teacher?

I would advise a new teacher to pace him/herself, embrace change, learn to prioritize, and forgive yourself for the mistakes you will invariably make. Teaching requires stamina, persistence, and grit. A new teacher needs to understand that by becoming a teacher means you have signed on to become a lifelong student, as there are always professional development opportunities available to improve your skills. Learn from peers, develop a support system of trusted teachers, but cast your own teaching persona based on your philosophy. Always try to be mindful of the child’s point of view. Trust yourself and don’t forget to have fun!