National Teaching Award Nominee
Dee-Mack Intermediate School, Deer Creek, Illinois
Student Nomination Story
This year I had the privilege of completing my student teaching experience in Mrs. Nightingales classroom. From the very beginning Mrs. Nightingale went out of her way to make me feel like a vital part of her classroom. Mrs. Nightingale took a personal interest in getting to know me and found ways to include me in the classroom that not only highlighted my skills but developed my confidence in areas where I was lacking. As we worked together, Mrs. Nightingales passion came through in the differentiation and time she put into her lessons, development of student relationships, and increased student engagement in learning. Our schedule this semester was very demanding for the students. Mrs. Nightingale actively sought ways to get the students engaged and make learning fun. In reading she incorporated many different reading styles such as readers theater and partner reading. The students loved the different ways they learned, and this invigorated them for the rest of the morning. During science, Mrs. Nightingale incorporated many videos and activities to reward students for their hard work. In education trends come and go. Some offer students a better way of learning and some flop. Mrs. Nightingale’s approach to new trends was to try them. She stated that it is better to try every trend and decide you do not like one than to not try something and miss out on what it could have added to your class. One trend that is being implemented school wide in her district is standard based grading. The school district has been working on this for three years now and have started to transition over. This has meant an exuberant amount of work has been added to the teachers in redoing lessons and units so that they align to this new grading system. Throughout this process Mrs. Nightingale has remained positive and has given this new system a chance. Mrs. Nightingale made the students feel as though this was also their classroom by including students’ interests and developing her class around her students. “My Students.” When asked, “What inspired your current classroom management plan?” Mrs. Nightingale responded with this answer. Like many others Mrs. Nightingale took inspiration from what she had learned about in college and through independent observation. She did remark that part of her management plan was influenced by the school district she worked for. A few years ago, they decided that all fourth- grade classrooms should implement a clip chat and that students will have similar rewards and consequences based on the system. Like other areas of her classroom, Mrs. Nightingale drew inspiration from her students when creating this plan. Mrs. Nightingale takes a proactive approach to solving conflicts in her class by doing several things; she sets clear expectations, gives one warning, and reminds students of expectations. Mrs. Nightingale also used student share days to learn about her students and to involve them in the classroom. When asked what the most important part of teaching was, Mrs. Nightingale said, “The most important part of teaching is getting to know your students.” Mrs. Nightingale has made an effort to give to the school community. Mrs. Nightingale make sure to attend events of her colleagues and her past students. This year she went to several volleyball and basketball games that her students participated in. Several of our students also do a play each year and Mrs. Nightingale attends whenever she can. Mrs. Nightingale is a role model to students and teachers in the school, through her coaching. During this year’s basketball season, Mrs. Nightingale lead several fundraisers to raise money for new basketball uniforms. She also helped serve in the school pancake breakfast and kissed a goat as a reward for the school raising money for jump for life. When I was set up to be Mrs. Nightingales student teacher my cooperating teacher described her as “the best”. When I arrived to the school on my first day everyone I met reiterated this statement. At first I thought she has some special way of presenting the content that made students learn better. After spending time in her classroom, I see that Mrs. Nightingales ability to differentiate the content is not what makes her a great teacher. Mrs. Nightingale is a great teacher because of the passion she puts into her craft and the connections she builds with her students and the community.
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