Take Five with Theresa Dorsey: Teacher at Randolph Elementary School
27 April 2023
Ms. Dorsey focuses on incorporating restorative practices in her classroom and giving students ownership over their learning.
Take Five is a series that highlights some of the many CPS staff members who are going above and beyond for our schools. If you know someone who is making a difference, nominate them to be featured here.
Meet Ms. Theresa Dorsey, a seventh and eighth grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher at Asa Philip Randolph Elementary School. Ms. Dorsey has taught in the Englewood neighborhood for the past eight years, and she says that she knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was a child herself.
This year, Ms. Dorsey became the ELA team lead at Randolph, so her time is currently split between teaching in the classroom and serving as an instructional coach, which she describes as being an interesting and rewarding new challenge in her career. In her work, Ms. Dorsey focuses on incorporating restorative practices in her classroom, giving students ownership over their learning, and preparing her students for the greater level of independence they are about to experience in high school.
How do you incorporate restorative practices in your classroom?
Building strong relationships with students and creating a positive classroom culture is a huge part of restorative practices — it’s important to have transparent and vulnerable conversations in the classroom, because they help students feel comfortable and safe coming to me if they need support. I definitely like to incorporate community building circles, calm classroom strategies, and morning check-ins. I always want to reinforce with my students that they are members of a community, and we work together to make goals and set expectations for the classroom.
Are there any specific lessons that you love teaching?
I’m really big on encouraging students to have a voice in the classroom, so I love teaching anything that fosters discussion. A Philosophical Chairs lesson, Campfire reading discussions, or really anything that doesn’t have a yes or no answer is really useful in helping students think deeply, express themselves, and share their experiences and understanding of the class novels we read.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
My relationships with my students. It’s really powerful to know that what we’re doing today is going to impact the future.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I spend a lot of time with my eight-year-old son, who is also a CPS student. We love to have adventures together— explore and travel all over the city. We also love to try new recipes.
What is something people might not know about you?
My major in college was bilingual education, so I studied abroad in Ecuador and Mexico. I really wanted to be totally immersed in the Spanish language and culture before I started teaching. Then I lived abroad and taught in Honduras for a whole year. I’m also learning how to do a cartwheel!