Laura Mitchell teaches Math exclusively. She has spent her 16-year career making math accessible to all of her students — and she’s one of the Teachers We Love in 2021. You can learn more about her in the interview below, and at The Teacher Marketplace.
Why did you become a teacher?
Watching my mother, who was a beloved educator, had a great impact upon me. I love helping students discover confidence in themselves and in finding their potential!
What is the funniest moment you’ve experienced a teacher?
So many — where to begin? I had my son in class in 5th grade. At Christmas time, he came up to me at recess and was asking me about borrowing money and our weekend plans. Another student from our class looked at us and said, “Wait a minute?! Are you all related?”
How has the last year affected your students and your teaching approach?
It has reinforced my deeply-held belief that, as an educator, I am attempting to effect a change in someone’s life — to make it better. It goes far beyond just academics.
What’s a creative solution you use to keep kids engaged or motivated during COVID?
I think it is about connections. Taking time to listen and learn from them as well as teach. I also think it is vital to show how important it is to fail. It is vital to learning. I like to reassure students that there is nothing to fear in mistakes. We can’t grow without putting ourselves out there. I want students to embrace thinking and trying out new ideas and methods.
What resources do you like to use in the classroom or in teaching remotely?
I like to lead with inquiry and engage and guide them to discovering their answers. I like to incorporate review games or puzzles at different points so that they can use their newfound strategies. Kahoot and online Jeopardy games that I create are great reviews.
What is your experience with bullying in the classroom?
Respect — it is the most important word in the class. We discuss what this looks like and why it is important. I demonstrate and point it out when I see it. When issues arise, I conference with students to help them work on their conflict management skills. We also address strategies for deflecting a bully when adults are not present, and we practice them. Students need to develop strategies to be able to help themselves. It builds confidence.
How do you gauge if your students are succeeding?
I like to track short data points as I teach weekly. It is important to me to be able to show a child their progress.
What’s a fun thing students don’t know about you?
I once took 27 kids on a “field trip” foreign exchange trip to France for two weeks.
What’s the one book you wish all students would read?
Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
What is your primary educational goal, and what are you most proud of as a teacher?
I want students to discover their own potential as a positive force in the world. I want them to discover that they have the ability to achieve and discover how they learn best. It is significant when a student shares a passion they have discovered sometime over the year in my class. It could be a love of math or the ability to navigate conflicts and nurture friendships in a way they could not before.
Meet More Teachers We Love in 2021
“Teachers We Love” in 2021 is a co-production between Parentology and The Teacher Marketplace. To meet more amazing teachers, visit the Teachers We Love section.
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