Meet the Teacher!
Meet Hannah, a motorcycle-riding, painting and crocheting 2nd grade teacher who loves pasta and anime! Hannah lived in Hawaii during college, but now teaches in Idaho in a school that was built almost 100 years ago and has no air conditioning. Hannah’s journey to the classroom is a fascinating one, and she is the picture of perseverance–read on the learn more!
You didn’t always plan on teaching. Tell us how that happened!
I was premed in my undergraduate program in Hawaii. I did not get into medical school and moved back to Idaho looking for a flexible job to continue studying to try again. My grandma was a substitute teacher when I was younger before she passed away and she loved it. I had always felt super uncomfortable around kids, but decided to try substituting anyway.
The moment I realized I wanted to be a teacher
My first day was awkward because the main teacher was still there pulling students back to progress monitor. The second day, though, I fell in love. I loved the independence I had in a classroom and I loved the students and seeing them understand something for the first time. Shortly after, I applied to a Masters program that also would provide me with an elementary teaching certificate. I started classes while substitute teaching full time. I only missed one day that whole year and it was Halloween.
While still working on my Masters, I got a job at a school in that district as a computer lab tech. The following school year, I taught K-5 how to use computers, do computer coding, and all about the Microsoft Office Suite. At the end of the year, I left that job for my student teaching assignment in 4th grade in the same district. I loved teaching 4th grade!
From Aide to Teacher
At the end of the first term, I got a job as a resource room aide at that school for the remainder of the school year. I am very thankful I worked as an aide because it helps me better understand my Special Education students and how to help them.
On the Road Again
After that school year, I applied to 98 jobs in that district and got one interview. I ended up moving across the state where we had more of a need for teachers for a job. Then, I received my Masters that summer. Following that, I got a job teaching first grade after moving to a brand new town. I continued my education and received an Education Specialist degree the following year. After that, I was moved to a new school and taught a 1st/2nd split, then moved up to 2nd grade the year after. I recently got admitted into a doctoral program focusing on curriculum for education. Now, I am in the middle of moving again to Colorado where my fiancee is, as he is opening up a motorcycle dealership. Next year, I will be teaching 3rd grade!
What are 3 words that describe you as a 2nd grade teacher?
Laughing, organized, and strict.
Obviously not all human beings are meant to mesh, which can be problematic when working with them in a building or on a team. What is your advice for getting along with coworkers, even when the situation isn’t ideal?
Be the shining light that they will miss. My biggest thing is trying to be as positive as I can and not get trapped into a negative conversation. I will try to find the silver lining as I talk with coworkers and help them try to see it too. I think we need to be willing to be open and listen to each other and try our best to keep a clear channel of communication no matter what.
What has surprised you most about being a 2nd grade teacher?
I was most surprised by how much I would love each individual student in my classroom every single year!
Tell us your least favorite part about teaching.
Meetings. I feel I can better serve my students when not required to sit in a meeting that has nothing to do with my students. I am very much the person who sits in the back with a notepad writing down all the stuff I need to work on or working on those things instead of focusing on the meeting.
What is the best field trip you have ever taken?
Mini golfing! I took just my class mini golfing for experience prior to beginning our project based learning for creating a mini golf course. It was less stressful with just my group of kids and they had a blast and loved it. They saw it as just fun and now I get to see them using what they learned there every day in their project.
Your school has NO AC. What in the world?! How hot does it get and how do you survive? Please give us tips for teachers who are in similar situations!
The hottest I’ve seen in my room this spring was 80 degrees. It was much hotter in the fall and I have practically floor to ceiling windows on the sunny side of the school. I crack the one window that opens in the morning when its cool outside. My biggest thing is keeping the windows covered to keep the heat out. Besides the long blinds that are in my room, I have a string I hung up with fabric across it on the bottom half to keep the sun from shining in and that has made a huge difference.
Who are your favorite teachers to follow on social media for inspiration? Why do you like them?
I mostly follow teacher groups to gain inspiration from other teachers all around the world that are in those groups. I gain amazing ideas from other teachers just like me. The Not So Wimpy Facebook groups are amazing and so is First Grade Gab group on Facebook.
If you had to teach on a desert island for a month, what 3 items would you absolutely bring?
Shapes for math, a multistory book, and a hat.
As a 2nd grade teacher, what is your best classroom management tip or trick?
Engagement. I try to use at least one really engaging activity a week to keep the kids focused and use that as an incentive the rest of the time. I also use art in the same way. If all work is done Friday afternoon, then they can do art; otherwise, we spend that time catching up.
In 3 short years, how have you changed as a 2nd grade teacher?
I’ve been willing to try things that others told me wasn’t possible for younger grades. I have found my own routine in the classroom and have become comfortable enough now to begin doing more interactive things in my classroom such as transformations.
What is something you do every summer to prepare for the following school year?
Rest is a big one. The other thing, because my grade has changed almost every year, is finding centers and task cards that I can print and laminate and cut to be prepared for the next year. I have moved classrooms every summer, including this upcoming one!
Sum teaching up in a 5 word sentence:
The most rewarding, fun job.
Just for fun!
Favorite lunch to pack: I’m supposed to pack a lunch? Haha, I tend to order Jimmy John’s quite a bit.
All-time favorite read-aloud: Eerie Elementary series. I read it every year.
Most overrated read-aloud book: Junie B Jones. I love the series and the kids do too–but most of them have heard it already.
Worst field trip ever: The local aquarium. They were supposed to have rotations and groups set up but it ended up turning into chaos. Third grade from my school was still there when first and second showed up so we had 150 kids in a small aquarium all at once. One student almost fell into the pool with the stingrays and a bird almost got out from the bird experience.
Fill in the blank:
Being a teacher is really rewarding and not very recognized.
Being a teacher makes me fulfilled.
Sometimes, I just wish others knew how much we do.
This or That
Before school or after school staff meetings? After
Snow Day or Personal Day? Snow Day
Math or Reading? Reading
Lunch in the lounge or in the classroom? Classroom. It keeps me focused on my students and their needs rather than other issues going on in the school.