The true measure of a good teacher is when people declare they’d want that instructor teaching their children. There’s a good chance that this woman fits this description, teaching social studies at Cadott High School in Wisconsin.
Since the beginning of the school year I’ve meant to feature her or any other teacher as a measure of good classroom learning. Here it is, the first of the new year, and I’m finally writing it.
From what she’s sent to me about her philosophy, first and foremost she feels that classroom management is essential, the teacher in charge asking for and deserving respect. The teacher, she writes, must be firm, fair, and fun. Treating each other with kindness and emphasizing that all in her classroom are good humans, that is the basis on which the classroom functions.
“When the classroom runs smoothly, learning will happen.” And in that setting, relationships are important, both among the students and with the teacher. Students need a constant in their lives, and ideally the school setting should provide that.
She tries to stay relevant, working current events into the lessons of the curriculum. “Intertwining” she describes it.
Just as important, she as the teacher needs to find new ways to learn and reach her students. I saw this last summer when she went on Facebook and wrote about a plan or strategy to reach all students.
Holding students accountable is important to her, as is helping students with organizational skills and time management.
All these goals can happen when students see that the teacher truly cares for them. She enjoys visiting with students who come back to talk about their time in class, and at times apologize for how they behaved.
When I heard about the program that chose a teacher of the year on the state or federal level, I wondered how that choice was made. In some cases grants and fellowships hinged teaching ability and enthusiasm but also on patience in filling out complicated, rigorous forms.
During my teaching years at the junior high level, I knew I was working with “teachers of the year” but they’d never put themselves out there or want that attention. Olson, Fieber, Grant, Bubolz, Engel, McCarthy, Redepenny, and Aiken would win.
Ali echoes the idea that she wants to be the type of teacher that she’d like her kids to learn from.