After being a tent camper for years and years, I recently purchased a teardrop camper. I bought it mainly for security and safety while traveling. I hope to join some communities of women campers to make more friends and connections.

I am a reader and a writer; a momma and a grandma; a sister and a daughter. I have been a teacher and librarian for over 25 years. I used to blog here for new teachers, but now I have changed to blogging about my travels, and just for fun.

I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Elizabeth Smith, Oklahoma's 2011 Teacher of the Year

I was privileged to attend Oklahoma State University's Celebration of Teachers on Monday. One of the speakers was Oklahoma's Teacher of the Year, Elizabeth Smith.

Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth Smith is a nationally-board certified reading teacher at Byng Junior High School. She stated that she wasn't a good public speaker, but I had to disagree with her. She was quite polished and gave an excellent program. She listed several educational challenges that affect teachers:
  • no money back guarantee
  • discipline
  • apathy
  • financial issues
  • pressure of testing mandates
  • multiple roles
  • creating a safe environment
She went on to discuss all of those topics as to how they related to her experience. She shared how a student advisory board consisting of 9th through 12th graders came up with their top 5 issues in education. The issues were bullying, funding, apathy, dropouts, and quality of education. You see, even students notice educational issues in the classroom. They know what problems exist in our schools. Ms. Smith went on to say that students are motivated by teachers who relate to them through connections, love, and inspiration. Kids don't want a perfect teacher, they just want one that can forgive, be genuine, love the unlovable, and celebrate good things. They need their teachers to motivate them, show passion in their teaching practice, be relevant, meaningful, memorable, and to unleash the potential in them.

"How can teachers accomplish all this?" you may ask. Ms. Smith asked the audience members to go back and think of the most influential teacher they had in school. Remember that teacher? How did they treat you? Why do you remember that teacher above all others? Ms. Smith asked us why that certain teacher was so influential, and stated that the teacher probably was not so important in what they taught, or how they taught, but how they treated us. She read this poem and asked if we were wreckers or builders:

Wreckers or Builders

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho-heave-ho and lusty yell,
They swung a beam and a sidewall fell.

I asked the foreman, "Are these men skilled,
As the men you'd hire if you had to build?"
He gave me a laugh and said, "No indeed!
Just common labor is all I need.

I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do."
And I tho't to myself as I went my way,
Which of these two roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds by a well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?

Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the labor of tearing down?

-- Unknown

I hope you are as motivated by this poem as I am, as well as by Ms. Smith's presentation. She didn't talk much about her teaching methods, but she shared her students and their stories with us. I could tell, Elizabeth Smith is a builder.

Think about your special teacher...sharing welcome!

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