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Barb Dunn

Barb Dunn

3rd Grade
40 years of experience 

Excerpt from Teacher of the Year application

To me, teaching is important because:
To me teaching is important because I want kids to know the joy of learning, I feel learning should be a lifelong experience. You should challenge yourself every day to learn something new. I always tell the kids that they are doing research papers and projects not only for them to learn, but for me to learn from them. Not a day goes by where I don’t learn something new from my class.

Teaching for 40 years, I have seen ideas come and go and the come back again with a new name. I have taught whole language, units, grouping, whole class, inclusion, and high ability, I have seen grouping for math, grouping for reading grouping for ability, and no grouping. I have taught Special Education kids, English as Second Language kids, emotional kids, kids that are working back into a regular classroom with a full-time behavior coach and just some basic kids also. No matter who ends up in my classroom, I will make sure he or she will learn that year.

I love to see a child’s face light up when they suddenly grasp a new concept. I love to discuss a book with a child that I have also read (and in 40 years, I have read a lot of books.) I love to see a child read a page by themselves when only 2 months before, they could barely read that page. A good teacher not only teaches a child skills but how to be a better and happier person. I want them to know it’s okay to make a mistake and learn from it. I want them to see me make mistakes and how to deal with it and move on. I want them to come in each day ready for a new adventure.

Teaching for as long as I have, I have done it all. I have taught with no computers and with a room full of computers. Over the years, I have come up with some firm beliefs. I feel every child can learn. It is sometimes hard to find the way for certain children, but they can learn. I think writing is so important for kids. They need to learn how to express themselves, how to write stories, poems, lettings, and research reports. I usually have a writing project going on all the time.

I also feel kids need to learn to love reading, turning pages, and anticipating what will happen next. They need to feel they have made friends with characters in a book. They need to know they can look up a world of information to answer their questions. We still do monthly book reports where the kids get to know authors so if they enjoy a character or writing style, they can choose more books by that same author.

I have taught kindergarten, third, and fifth. This way I have seen where they start, where they are going, and where they need to be for middle school, I have taught third grade for 35 of the 40 years. It is the perfect age. They still get excited about school but can work independently; they can start to apply all those skills they learned into their reading and writing. It starts to make sense to them. They love to learn about history and new places around the world.

I do plays about three times a year, kids need to learn to talk in front of others and to pretend to be someone else. I have kids do the backgrounds, sound effects, scene changes, and help prompt and direct. I have found kids with reading problems or speech impediments can easily memorize lines and speak in from of others. It’s a good way to trick them into reading. It builds self-confidence and finds a new art form for many kids.

For the past 3 years, I have taught the Hugh Ability kids. This has been so much fun and is quite a challenge for me. Keeping up with these kids is really an interesting experience. They have such good questions. They love to get into discussions; they are usually a step ahead and trying to figure out what I will do next. They love to do shortcuts and move on to the next step before I am ready to take them there. They hate to show their work and explain how they get answers. I have kids that read on a high school level but don’t know exactly what the words mean. Usually about half of my room goes into the Extended Learning program. The teacher of this program always says my kids adjust to the Extended Learning very easily. They are ready for the work he gives them.

I also teach how to budget time, plan a project, and meet requirements by certain dates, this is very important for all kids to learn. I want them to learn this early so college will not be a problem. Most of these kids are from educated parents so they are already planning what they want to be when they grow up. They need to set goals and start planning for those goals now. Even with all of this, kids still need time to be just a kid. They will be an adult early enough.

In conclusion, teaching has been my way of life for a long time. Learning is a lifelong experience. If kids can learn to love learning, the rest will take care of itself. Thank you for this honor and a chance to express my beliefs.