Troup Teachers of the Year share favorite teaching moments, part 1

February 24, 2014

First in a series.

The Troup County School System Teachers of the Year were asked to write about their favorite teaching moment from this year. The following are the first part of the elementary school teachers, listed in alphabetical order by teacher’s last name.

Kimberly Buchanan, Hogansville Elementary School:

“My favorite teaching moment this year was when one of my struggling readers discovered how to sound out CVC words on his own. He knew most of his letters and sounds and he could give individual sounds in a word. His struggle came when he had to blend those sounds together in order to read a word. Although he had a difficult time, he never gave up and frequently asked for assistance. His determination was great and eventually putting those sounds together wasn’t hard any more. Seeing the pride that showed on his face was extremely rewarding.”

Patricia Davis, West Point Elementary School

“My favorite teaching moment from this year came from a child that has struggled in school. He is a sweet boy that repeated kindergarten so he is older and bigger than the other kids in my class. He is a very kind and loving child. Writing is one of the hardest things that I ask my first graders to do. When I give a writing assignment, I can tell by the look on this child’s face that he does not want to tackle this task. One day, I had my students write about a favorite family memory. This child wrote one sentence and brought it to me and told me he was done. I talked to him about what else he could add and sent him away. He would write one more sentence and coe back. He kept coming back and I kept talking with him and then sending him back to add more details. He finally had about five sentences telling about his family memory. Before he turned it in, I had him read it to me. I said “Look what a good job you did. You didn’t quit. I am so proud of you!” He smiled the biggest smile and held out his long arms for a hug. He melted my heart because he was proud of the product that he created and he recognized that I helped him with it. Helping children to be successful and to feel good about themselves is the best part of teaching.”

Anne Ellington, Long Cane Elementary School:

“My favorite teaching moment from this year is one that occurred between our Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. My coworker and I had noticed an increase in negative attitudes among the students: arguing, complaining, and low morale in general. We were desperate to come up with a short activity that would promote more positive thinking. We remembered seeing a Kid President video and thought that was a good place to start. At the beginning of class each day, we showed Kid President’s video, “The World Can Be Better,” and encouraged students to sing along. Then, we all took turns sharing positive comments and happy thoughts. The first couple of days, the students were unsure of what to say when it was their turn. But, in a few more days, we were absolutely overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness of their comments toward each other and in general. We all began to eagerly look forward to this time each morning and we noticed a huge shift in attitude. The positive feelings that we created each morning remained with us for the rest of the day. I then realized the larger effect – that the bickering and negativity were almost non-existent. Students were treating each other more kindly and with respect. We all became more appreciative of each other. This sums up the heart of my teaching philosophy. My ever-present desire is to promote positive attitudes so that the learning environment thrives and succeeds.”

Charles Freeman, Callaway Elementary School:

” My favorite teaching moments occur when students are enthusiastically engaged in learning as a result of the plan I’ve prepared to facilitate that learning. This year’s favorite moment transpired when I shared a song where I incorporated the content of the Fifth Grade Civil War standards. I used an “old school” rap style backtrack to rap the lyrics I had written. Although I had played my acoustic guitar to a learning song I composed about Weathering in Science class earlier in the year, I was anxious about how this one would be received. I was not prepared for the response experienced. When the day came to present the song, I donned a baseball cap and sunglasses to add to the flavor of the moment. The students immediately began moving to the beat and being drawn into the learning moment for which I had hoped. Soon they were joining in with me by exercising their rap skills, clapping hands, bobbing heads, and some just couldn’t stay in their seats. We had a great moment together that day experiencing the fun that can be found in learning in a unique way. In the days that followed, I knew they “owned” the content of the Civil War standards as their requests to do the song every day led to most of them being able to do the song all on their own.”

Kathy Hagler, Berta Weathersbee Elementary School:

“My favorite teaching moment this year was with a student that has struggled all year in reading and due to his IEP status has to have teacher assistance. The week before Christmas this student was given an on grade level vocabulary test. The student walked into the classroom and said “I got this. Do not help me. I am going to make 100.”. The student took his time, worked hard and I left him alone. He turned in the test and asked me to grade it immediately. He had made 100. The smile on this student’s face and his new sense of confidence made my entire teaching year.”

Brack Hassell, Ethel W. Kight Magnet School:

“This fall my students have been working very hard to improve their jump roping skills. One student was having trouble learning some of the skills and was very discouraged. I spent a few minutes working with him and encouraging him not to give up. After several classes the student really began to improve and was able to perform all of the tricks with ease. He was very excited about learning the tricks and being able to show me. I spoke with the student and his parent that afternoon during dismissal and complimented his hard work. The parent informed me that the student asked for a jump rope every day after school for a week. Once he received the jump rope they were practicing everyday. The parent said the student was even making his parents learn the tricks and to see how long they could jump without a mistake. The parent thanked me for showing the student ways that he can be active at home and for giving their student something that he could be proud of.”