TROY — Brooke Turner’s classroom at Concord Elementary reflects the fun and fracas that is a learning environment for third graders.
She recalled being the child who, as she was growing up in Fort Loramie, knew she wanted to become an elementary school teacher.
“I actually would make my younger sister play school with me,” she said. “It’s been something that I’ve always had a love and passion for.”
After graduating high school in 2011, Turner attended Edison Community College at first, then finished her degree in early childhood education at Urbana University. She student-taught at Concord last year in second grade teacher Doug Pond’s classroom.
This year, Turner began as a full-time teacher and received a room of her own, which felt different from student teaching but overall has been a smooth transition.
“Student teaching is always nice because I had Mr. Pond to lean on if I needed help or advice and he was always supportive,” she said. “There was another set of hands and eyes in there. This year, when it’s just you, it’s a little harder to manage all the students since I used to have Mr. Pond in there to help me manage the students. But with the background from last year, it was a nice, smooth transition.”
A typical day in the life starts when the kids come in and begin their morning routine. Turner said the kids have morning work, a math packet and a language arts packet that will end with a break before starting language arts.
Specials start at 10:45 a.m. and the kids come back at 12:45 p.m. Turner said the kids do DEAR — an acronym for “drop everything and read” — for about 15 to 20 minutes, go to math, back to recess and then switch to science and social studies.
“We’ll usually have a story of the week, where we work on main focuses such as sequencing,” she said. “Right now as a class we’re reading ‘The Big Friendly Giant.’”
Turner said she also focuses on teaching her students about manners.
“Not only do they learn the academic, but they need to learn the social cues in life and things like that,” she said. We do a lot of things with manners, learning and what they will need from here on out.”
While she enjoys teaching all of her subjects, science is Turner’s favorite for allowing her and the kids to get hands on, which she said keeps it fun and exciting for the kids.
“We’ve done a couple of experiments,” she said. “We’ve done the one where you put Mentos in pop and it explodes, and they use the scientific method to predict what would happen and observe and record.”
The one challenge she has discovered with teaching third grade is the amount of testing the kids go through. Turner shared how the previous week for her class was nothing but tests, which has been a challenge to keep the kids interested in.
“It was only Tuesday, and they were saying to me, ‘we have to do this all week, Miss Turner?’” she said, followed by a laugh. “It’s kind of hard to find a way to make it fun and appealing when it’s just tests all day.”
Turner described herself as being a nurturer, which played a role in deciding to teach elementary school and her educational philosophy.
“I teach to the whole child, what they love,” she said. “I know that every single child is different and they all have different beliefs and views and backgrounds, so I think it’s important to teach to the whole child, teach what they like and teach them how to like the things they don’t like.”
Focusing on the needs of her students helps her to spot kids who come in first thing in the morning who may not want to be at school or who are already having a bad day, and in turn she is able to be there for her students as soon as they need her.
“I think every teacher wants to be remembered as the teacher, if that makes sense,” she said. “You always want to be the nice teacher, the fun teacher, the ‘oh, do you remember when we did this?’ You just want to be remembered as a loving, funny, nurturing, overall good teacher. That’s the best way to explain it.”
The challenges come every once in a while, but Turner sees rewards daily, such as a student who is struggling in a subject having an a-ha moment.
“Everyday I keep a journal, called ‘Why I Love My Job,’” she said. “It’s so cute because I write stories in there that the kids tell me and they make me laugh. Every day there’s something new.”
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on Twitter @Troydailynews.