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Teacher of the Day

Name:  Barbara S.

School: Elementary Retired

Subject: 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th

State:  California

What or who inspired you to become a teacher?

My high school English teacher, Mrs. Patty Runo. After I made a presentation in her class, she approached me afterwards and said, "You should be a teacher, you're a natural. You had the class hanging on your every word!" I told her, "No, I'm not college material." She called me in on her prep and told me differently. I taught for 32 years! Where are you Mrs. Runo? I want to say 'thank you' for the impact you made that day. 

How are things different for you now, compared to when you first started teaching?

When I started in 1978 I had two Title I teacher aides that worked with me in the classroom 4 hours each every day. Wow! That gradually dwindled down to no aides at all within 5 years. Technology impacted education and made demands on my time. The last ten years of my career I worked 10-12 hr. days. Every email I opened was usually also a task to add to my already overwhelmed list.

What advice would you give to a new or struggling teacher?

"Keep it simple." As a seasoned teacher, I've watched all teachers strive to make their classroom the most organized, the most beautiful, the most "this", the most "that". As well, they spend a lot of time on the Internet seeking a better lesson than the one in the Teacher's Edition. These actions and habits will eventually exhaust you. USE the book,don't make your classroom a home away from home. Keep all areas of your teaching simple, strategic, and save the rest for a good life.

My best day in the classroom was when…

With thirty-two years under my belt, there couldn't possibly be just one 'best' day. Yet I can say that the best days were the days I felt I made a difference in the heart of the student as well as their skills learned. Especially when I taught middle school students, it was an honor to get them to trust me, talk with me, lean on me for guidance, help them with their work and their home or best friend struggles. For me, foremost, it was always about the student's heart anyway.

The best compliment I ever received was...

"I wish I'd had a teacher as nurturing and inspiring as you when I was my son's age."

What's your favorite part of the school year?

I always enjoyed from about January to "testing" the most. The class congealed with myself and each other. We'd become a supportive community of learners. They were amazing teammates showing me their new ways of earning group points. The 'homework haters' had been baited and inspired by their teams. Classroom management just happened, because it had already been taught.

What is your one must-have item for the classroom?

Get yourself an LCD projector if your district doesn't get you a SmartBoard. This opened up a whole new amazing level of engagement in my teaching.

What do you eat for breakfast on school days?

My last few years, with my own children raised, I relished oatmeal with flax seeds and dried cranberries.

What movie or TV show do you secretly love?

1980s' "Family Ties." They were always hugging, always supportive of each other.


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