Poteau Upper Elementary
TEACHER OF THE YEAR
5th grade, Science and ELA
Places and Years Taught
8 years – Poteau Upper Elementary
3 years – Poteau Primary
3 years – Cherokee Elementary, Muskogee
Grade Levels and Subjects Taught
5th grade, self contained – English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Writing
5th grade, departmentalized – Science and ELA
K-2, Music and Kindergarten aide
6th grade, self contained – English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Writing
Philosophy of Teaching
My philosophy begins and ends with the students. I believe all students can and will be successful if given the right opportunity and encouragement. To best achieve this success, a teacher must be willing to adapt lessons and methods to fit the needs of the students in his classroom. That is not to say teachers should bend with every whim students may throw at them, or easily discard tried and true methods and lessons. However, a teacher must be willing to try new methods and lessons in order to keep up with changing societies.
If given the opportunity and encouragement, I have seen students who “hate school” come to realize that their education has value. Teachers must not only provide the necessary content but must present it in a most meaningful and purposeful way. I encourage students to ask questions in my classes, and one of my favorites is, “Why do we need to know this?” If a teacher can answer that question for a student, that student, and the rest of them in the class who were afraid to ask or possibly didn’t care to ask, is much more likely to respect the lesson and teacher and, therefore, more likely to be successful.
Personal Teaching Style
I have always been an advocate for cooperative learning. Early in my career, I opted for tables instead of desks in my classroom. Students are encouraged to share ideas, help each other discover solutions and explore different possibilities as they learn. I encourage discussion in my classes. I actually have a rule, No Whispering Allowed, Talking Only. First, I want to hear what they are saying to make sure they are still on topic. Second, another student may hear what was said and consider a solution he wouldn’t have thought of if he hadn’t heard someone talking about it. For me, there is something very gratifying when I hear 5 groups of students all discussing and exploring possibilities within the lesson I just taught. (I have 5 tables with up to 6 students at each table.)
In another odd departure from a traditional classroom, I tell students not to raise their hand when I ask a question of the class. They have a hard time with this one at first being conditioned as they are, but they soon get it. I tell them it is because I want to hear all answers, not just one. My purpose is to encourage those who never answer to take that chance. They soon realize, as different answers are presented, that they too have ideas worthy of discussion. Also, I remember many times sitting in a class and having my hand up with the answer, but the teacher only calling on one and thinking to myself, “I knew that!” If two or three students all say the same answer to the question, their confidence is bolstered by their peers. If differing answers are presented, then we have an opportunity to explore possibilities. No one is “wrong”. Some may just be in error and together we correct our thinking. I tell them, “If you have an idea, probably someone else in the room also has that same idea. Be brave and share for yourself and them.” It may seem a small thing, but a little confidence can last a lifetime.