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As students return, new teachers prepare lesson plans
By Eric Heinz
A new school year is the end of summer fun for students, but for teachers—especially those who are starting their first full-time year—it is the sum total of their training coming to fruition.
Elizabeth Eldridge, a third-grade teacher in her first year at Concordia Elementary, said she obtained her teaching credentials in 2011 and started her career in private tutoring. Eldridge tutored students from second grade to high school seniors for four years before becoming a school teacher.
“The big difference is the time I’m able to spend with each student, but I make a big effort to differentiate my lessons and access all the learners,” Eldridge said.
During her first day, Eldridge said she quickly realized she will need to be flexible and willing to change when things don’t always go according to plan.
“The curriculum is fantastic in third grade, where they learn a lot,” she said. “I’m really looking to develop myself as a professional and continue to learn new things and bring technology to the classroom.”
Textbooks have morphed to more advanced creatures in the classroom. Each student in Eldridge’s class is equipped with a Google Chromebook.
In order to keep students focused and shake off the mental cobwebs from summer, she said she tries to make her lesson plans applicable to the students’ budding minds.
“I’m teaching to their real life experiences so they can see a practical application of what they’re learning in the classrooms—to see that it’s useful beyond these four walls,” Eldridge said. “I want to show them that it’s something they can use each and every day and not just information we’re pushing at them.”
Concordia is a school of 645 elementary students, kindergarten through fifth grade, with three new teachers this year.
In his third year at Concordia, Principal Paul Foucart said his favorite part about the new school year is seeing all the children and hearing about their summer breaks.
Foucart also is preparing his staff for more technology and a new math curriculum being implemented this year.
“We’re hoping to look at our data (on students) and see where we need to go from there,” Foucart said. “What we’re trying to do is for the students who are going home to iPads and technology, we want to teach them digital citizenship and standards.”
Kristen Bisch was a long-term substitute teacher at Truman Benedict Elementary School last year, and was hired at Concorida on Aug. 19.
“I looked back on my old lesson plans and innovated new things to go with them,” Bisch said. “It helps that I taught second grade last year because it helps me understand what’s expected.”
She holds a similar standard to her second-grade students; Bisch said she wants to maintain “high” but “obtainable” expectations for them, especially with the implementation of more technology in the classroom.
“I think you have to have the kids understand what you want from them,” Bisch said. “You set those regulations and during the first week of school you go over those consistently and they get used to that routine.”
Getting her credentials just three years ago, Bisch said it helps that she’s well-acquainted with what is expected for contemporary second-grade learning.
“Second-graders … sometimes they know a lot more with iPads and computers because they’ve grown up knowing only that,” Bisch said. “There’s so many jobs popping up with technology these days, and to prepare them for that, (lessons) are changing.”