Teachers excited about teaching

Principal Shirley Soverign talks about items learned from a conference in San Antonio.

Principal Shirley Soverign talks about items learned from a conference in San Antonio.

By Marcie Klomp

Isn’t that what parents want to hear? That teachers are excited about teaching their children. Well that is happening at Howard-Winneshiek.

Four Cresco Elementary first and second grade teachers, along with their principal, Mrs. Shirley Sovereign, attended a rejuvenating conference in April and gave summaries from their seminars to board members on May 20.

Sovereign gave background on the trip. “We focused on reading comprehension. We each went to from five to 10 sessions. We felt empowered and learned from international experts in reading and education fields.” She added the conference “affirmed that we are going in the right direction.” The teachers also found that H-W is further along the path to learning than other schools.

One thing Kris Voves (first grade) took away was to let the students do and talk 85 percent of the time. “Interaction is at the core of engagement. Our students ask questions all the time. Students lose that—especially in the junior high and senior high school. We need to keep the kids asking questions.”

Casey Rausch (first) also spoke about questions. “The more we learn, the more we wonder. Questions asked are a better assessment of students than the questions answered.” She commented that fun is contagious, which makes students ready to learn.

The teacher prepared lessons ahead of time for the week after getting back from the conference. But she learned so much, “I scrapped them. I am a much happier teacher since I came back from San Antonio.”

Karen Kuhn (first) commented, “It is not about the device. It is about learning.” She went on to give exampled of SAMR (Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition) Model.

Michelle Ihde (second) explained, “There is a huge gap between your most skilled teacher and your least skilled teacher. We need to decrease the gap.”

The skilled teachers are willing to take the extra steps to give their students a meaningful learning experience. Students need to be encouraged to wonder. “I wonder. I think. I learned. I wonder.” That philosophy is getting kids to ask questions and have them find their own answers instead of teachers giving them the answer.

Ihde concluded her portion by saying, “I’ve taught for 21 years. I’ve always had a fire about teaching. but that fire is rekindled.”

Sovereign summed up the common core of the conference. “Each and every student deserves the best. We need to have higher standards in our profession.”

School board member James Kitchen asked, “We were just ‘wondering’ what the other teachers think of this. Are they as interested in this as you are?”

One teacher answered that after giving a longer presentation to fellow teachers “I got an email that said we need to share more in-house.”

Superintendent John Carver added, “K-12 is ready to go! [These teachers] weren’t shy. They went to the experts in the field and stalked them in the airport [to ask them questions.]”

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