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Jodi Barth

Jodi Barth

Sugar Grove Elementary School

37 Years of Teaching; 28 Years at Center Grove

To me, teaching is important because...

As a teacher, I believe the importance and purpose of teaching is to help students develop a strong academic foundation and understand the value of and how to strengthen good character traits, social skills, and life skills that will help them succeed during their time with me and for the rest of their lives. To be successful with my students, I need my students to know three equally important things about me. None of these three things can exist without the other:

1) I care about them. 2) I am committed to helping them succeed. 3) They can trust me.

1. Caring - Because students come from diverse experiences and home lives, I meet each child where they are academically and emotionally. Children thrive, grow, and flourish when they know someone sincerely cares, and that requires time. I establish rapport with students and parents at the start of each year by calling each child's parents after school to provide positive feedback and solicit any input they may have on how we can partner to develop their child. I look for opportunities to talk and interact on a personal level with each student.

Notes from parents:

• "Being a teacher and now principal, I have seen many educators over the years, and the amount of sincerity you showed was amazing. I can tell that you truly care about the kids and that they are more than just a kid to you."

• "I am amazed at the way you work with your students, not only in the way that you show respect for them, but also in the way you create such a positive environment."

2. Committed - I care about each student. I am dedicated to each student's development and success. In addition to academic skills, students need to learn to meet commitments, be accountable for their behavior, problem solve, and persevere even when discouraged. I track weekly homework completion and behavior on a clipboard. Tracking progress helps the student, the parents, and me know the child's strengths and areas upon which to improve. Each week we celebrate and honor the students who have met our homework and behavior goals. When students are struggling, I meet with the child and parents to set goals to encourage growth. We have class meetings and discuss various topics, such as, our hopes, goals, ways to handle difficult people and situations, and how to work through frustrations and persevere. During instruction, we share different strategies for coming up with a solution to an academic topic. I encourage students to use their critical thinking skills to be innovative as we explore possible solutions. Students learn from each other, guide, and support one another.

Principal comments in my Final Evaluations:

  • "You create a culture of high expectations and respect within the walls of your classroom. You communicate extremely well with parents, colleagues, and administration, and work proactively to help students be successful, both academically and behaviorally."
  • "Students are empowered in your room to be leaders, to be reflective about what they've learned and what they still have yet to learn, and to advocate for themselves."
  • "You utilize great strategies to differentiate your instruction and look for ways to specifically challenge your students who are high ability."

Note from parent:

  • "I've noticed a big shift in my son regarding his self-initiation and ownership of his work. Thanks for cultivating that,atmosphere and setting the expectations. He feels very comfortable in your room and appreciates your calm and fun demeanor. Thank you for making learning so engaging."

3. Trustworthy- I have regular conversations with my class about integrity (doing the right thing even when no one is looking). Integrity and trust go hand-in-hand. When I am able to have honest, two-way communication with students, it motivates and empowers them to be accountable for their progress. Integrity is invaluable in all aspects of life. By meeting each child where they are, we work together to incorporate a growth mind-set. Through this they begin to recognize their potential and begin to realize how they can become the best version of themselves, and become knowledgeable, confident, and responsible citizens.

Note from Center Grove freshman:

  • "You made me feel important and that I could do anything I want. I would like to thank you for letting me see myself for who I am and what I wanted to do going into high school."

Note from Center Grove senior:

  • "I just want to tell you how much of an impact you've made on my academic self-confidence. I remember so clearly you pulling me aside one day after we had finished with the math lesson. You looked at me and said, "If you have any questions, make sure you ask. If you have a question, that means that other students most likely do as well." That really hit home with me. Since that time math was my favorite subject because you gave me the confidence to believe in myself. Thank you for being somebody who believed in me during my 13 years in this school district. People like you are few and far between, and the memories and impressions you leave behind last forever."