Student teachers celebrate learning

By Becky GINOS FARMINGTON—Stepping into a classroom as a student teacher can be daunting. It all seemed so easy when the professor talked about it in college. But dealing with real students and their problems isn’t what the text book described. That’s why the district held the Davis Student Teaching Celebration recently to help teachers currently in their rotation learn how to make the most of the experience. Allison Riddle, 2014 Utah Teacher of the Year and Elementary Mentor Supervisor for the Davis School District led the activity made up of roundtable discussions, special speakers, presentations and interviewing opportunities. “Be flexible in teaching,” Riddle told the group. “Pacing your lesson according to the feedback from your students is important – that’s teaching. Reading your students and giving them the opportunity to respond will let you know you’re on the right track.” Riddle encouraged the teachers to become involved with their students’ lives outside of class as well. “They have talents they’re working on after school,” she said. “Find out what they’re involved in and go watch them in action. You’ll learn things about them you’d never know. It’s hard to find the time but their parents saw me as a caring adult.” Take care of yourself during your rotation too, she said. “Lack of sleep cripples thinking and affects your working memory. Kids deserve the best you.” Riddle recommended networking with other teachers. “There was no Internet when I started teaching,” she said. “We would meet once a year but you can network across the country and world – so reach out.” District Social Studies Supervisor Chris Hall shared experiences from his career as a teacher at Woods Cross High School. He produced a big wooden box that he called “your marvelous future compendium” that was filled with mementos and letters from students over the years. “My first year at Woods Cross I was going to be so good,” he laughed. “I was going to be hard core and make them turn in their assignments. There was this one kid in the class. I didn’t like him at all, he was nothing like me. He was a terrible student. He ignored me and I ignored him. He didn’t show up the last week of school and didn’t turn in his book. I made sure he had a fine at the end of the year.” When the book turned up, it was stuffed full of things and the spine was damaged, Hall continued. “I found a letter to a judge begging him to waive punishment. Apparently he had been in and out of corrections and he and his girlfriend were trying to take care of their daughter and pay their bills, etc.,” Hall said. “He was a 10th grader and all I thought was that I wanted him to worry about world geography. I felt terrible. I had ignored him.” Hall said he realized that learning was the most important thing, not his deadlines. “They have lives outside of our class.” He pulled out a letter from another student who wrote, “Thank you for giving me a second chance when I didn’t deserve one. The times I was most discouraged you gave me a pep talk. P.S. I got a 5 on the AP test.” There will be bumps in the road, Hall said. “That’s OK. I had a student who hit me and gave me a bloody nose. After he hit me we were better and became fast friends.” Hall encouraged the teachers to connect with people and play a part in the faculty. “Build each other up,” he said. “You’re going to need them. Teaching becomes your identity. Besides my children it’s my greatest blessing. There’s nothing I treasure more.” This is your future right now, said Hall. “One thing never changes and that’s the district’s motto, ‘learning first,’” he said. “I envy you your future compendium (treasury). As tired as you’ll get, as angry as you’ll get – you are building a treasury.”

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