by Alyssa Rhinesmith, City Year New Hampshire AmeriCorps member serving on the Beech Street Elementary School team generously supported by Dartmouth-Hitchcock
My partner teacher, Mrs. Schultz, expects a lot out of her students. When I walked into our fourth grade classroom on my first day, I immediately knew that I was placed to serve not only at the perfect school but also with the perfect partner teacher. After all 23 nine and ten year-olds filed into the classroom, Mrs. Schultz stated “my classroom is all about the learning.” I immediately sighed with relief as I realized what a privilege I had in working with this amazing teacher over the following months.
Regardless of previous teachers’ evaluations of them, my partner teacher holds high expectations for every student in her class. It is my opinion that students will rise to the expectations you set for them. If you approach a classroom setting with a certain level of tough love, students will be receptive. Even in my short time with these students, I have seen the impact Mrs. Schultz is having on the classroom dynamic.
Day by day, our students are becoming more self-sufficient and focused on learning. I imagine that it can sometimes be frustrating for my teacher, as the process is often painstakingly slow, and sometimes entire days are lost dealing with individual behavioral issues. Nevertheless, I have the ability to take a step back to evaluate where all the students started. I believe her teaching method has the ability to change many of these students’ paths; not only in education, but in life.
Recently, Mrs. Schultz implemented a new tactic to approaching Formative Loop, a five minute math worksheet students are meant to complete each morning. Instead of students having the ability to submit incomplete work or simply skip their morning math, she has created Formative Loop clipboards. Students with incomplete Formative Loop piles have each gotten their own clipboards. Every morning, they are then called back to my table to get extra help and finish these worksheets. The other day was the first time that I did not have to pull teeth to get students to tackle the seemingly insurmountable stack of dreaded math worksheets. I walked into my classroom after morning greeting to find one of my students already sitting at my table, clipboard in hand, adamantly stating “I’m ready, let’s do some math.”
During the hectic proceedings that are a day in the life of this fourth grade classroom, it is all too easy to forget to take a moment to appreciate all that my teacher is doing for these students. So, I am taking that moment. I am taking a moment to acknowledge all the hours spent, all the times students were asked to focus on the learning and all the high expectations. You don’t hear it nearly enough but believe me as I say, thank you Mrs. Schultz.
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