“It was gratifying to hear that something I did had so much impact.”

After a wonderful elementary school experience of her own, Diedre became a lifelong learner. But now that she’s teaching her own students, she’s not interested in doing things the same old way. Rather than simply reading her lessons from textbooks, Diedre thrives when she and her students can engage more fully in the assignments by conducting experiments, creating models, and learning in other interactive ways. Between teaching three subjects—math, science, and social studies—Diedre has her hands full, but she’s motivated by seeing her students overcome challenges and make connections in their work. Whether it’s figuring out a mathematical formula, studying the results of an experiment, or drawing parallels between our past to the present, Diedre loves passing knowledge along to her students—and even learning a thing or two from her own lessons.

What do you enjoy about the grade/subjects you teach?
I teach three discrete subjects: math, science, and social studies. I have always loved learning and teaching math. I love to see my students make connections between something I’ve introduced and material they learned in a lower grade. I want them to leave the math class without any phobias/fears because they know that math just makes sense.

I enjoy social studies because I like to know why things happen. It’s like the connections that we make in math. You see why our government, etc. operates in the manner it does because of choices people made hundreds of years ago.

Science is a new topic of interest for me. The thing I enjoy most about the way I teach it versus the way I learned it is the hands-on aspect. When I was a student, we learned everything from books, which wasn’t engaging. As a teacher, my students and I conduct experiments and create models, then explain the scientific concept behind them. It’s fun to see their excitement and knowledge.

What keeps you going on your more challenging days in the classroom?
The things that make me keep going on more challenging days are my students’ needs, my colleagues’ trust, and my interest in the content I teach. I know that each person in our building has an important role to play in educating and preparing our students for the next level and for their lives beyond the classroom. I depend on them to do their parts, and I feel that I need to do my part to the best of my ability. I am also personally interested in the subjects I teach. I learn something new every time I cover a topic and I look forward to that.

Has there ever been a time you were especially proud of a student’s accomplishments?
One of my students had developmental and academic delays. He did not like to do math. He would cry every day in the classroom. Despite that, the instructional support teacher and I were able to help him make the equivalent of two instructional years of growth during the time he was in my classroom. His mother visited us after he was in middle school and told us how she was so grateful for the care, time, and attention we had taken with her student. It was gratifying to hear that something I did had so much impact.

What do you feel makes a great teacher?
I think great teachers must be able to build strong relationships with students and adults. Students who are respected are able to take the risks and chances that are necessary to learn and grow.

Complete this sentence: Teachers are heroes because…
Teachers are heroes because they work hard to prepare students to be contributing members of society without expecting praise and accolades. They do it because they believe they make a difference.

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