Sunday , 24 September 2017
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Discovery Teacher of the Year Shares Secrets to Helping Students Succeed

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Luann Walker, math teacher at Discovery High School, says strong, positive relationships with students are vital to student success.

Luann Walker does more than teach math at Discovery High School.  The Discovery 2013-14 Teacher of the Year also takes time to build meaningful relationships with her students.  Last week, I visited Ms. Walker to discuss Schoolnet questions.  In the 90 minutes I was in her classroom, four different students dropped by to ask questions, get a hug, or just touch base with her before the end of their school day.  The bond between teacher and students was evident.  So, when I asked Luann to share with me her favorite instructional strategy, I shouldn’t have been surprised that she didn’t send me a strategy you may find online or in an article to use with students, but instead, she shared her overarching philosophy about the importance of relationships.  Take a moment to read what she shared…

The one important thing that I do constantly is building positive relationships with my students. Most teachers truly care about their students, but the students don’t always see that in the classroom. We, as teachers, have to put time and effort into letting them know how much we care. Students need to hear it in our conversations with them. They need to see it in our expressions. But most importantly, they need to feel it every day. There are many things we can do to build positive relationships with students, but all it takes is building trust. Building that trust takes time and effort. The first thing I do is to accept students as they are and realize that growth will come. Next, I listen to what they have to say, and instead of telling them where I think they are wrong, I try to provide examples or questions to ponder when they need to look at a situation from a different perspective. I’m giving them choices, and they like the freedom to make decisions. Also, I’m always sharing things about myself with my students, often recalling situations from my school experiences. This helps them realize that although I am an adult, I’ve experienced struggles, fears, and situations similar to what they experience, and I do understand.

 

About Heather Mullins

Heather Mullins is the Chief Academic Officer in Newton-Conover City Schools. She is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow who spent 12 years as a high school English Teacher. She received her B.S.Ed. in Secondary English Education from Western Carolina University. Heather completed her National Board Certification in Adolescent Young Adult English Language Arts in 2002. She holds an M.Ed. in Academically and Intellectually Gifted from UNC-Charlotte. Heather has served as a Curriculum Specialist in Hickory City Schools, an adjunct professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University, and a Professional Development Consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She completed her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership through Western Carolina University. Heather is one of the co-founders of #NCed Chat, North Carolina’s first Twitter chat for teachers. She is passionate about innovative practices, instructional technology, student ownership of learning, and supporting teachers. Heather serves on the advisory board for the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan, North Carolina School for the Deaf and Catawba Science Center. She is a recipient of the 2015 NCMLE Central Office Administrator to Watch Award. She also received the 2016 Don Chalker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership. Heather is the proud mother of one son, Jackson.

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