They’re with our children every day, playing a crucial role in their academic and social development. A great teacher’s steadfast enthusiasm reaches well beyond the lesson plan, stoking her students’ passion for learning that will last a lifetime. Do you know someone you want us to recognize as a terrific teacher? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about him or her or nominate online! Our next Terrific Teacher will appear in our January issue.
In recommending Lesa Uffeleman as a Terrific Teacher, Ann Bish, who works as an aide in her classroom, says that the time the second grade teacher puts into planning activities, the patience she shows with the children, and the love she has for what she does makes her an exceptional role model.
“I have always had an appreciation for teachers,” says Bish, “but this woman has shown me just how incredible they truly are.”
Central Penn Parent: When did you know you wanted to be a teacher?
Lesa Uffelman: When I was a little girl. I would play school in my grandparent’s upstairs. I would pass out papers to my pretend students and correct them at my desk.
CPP: What was the most important lesson you learned when you first started teaching?
Uffeleman: Probably the most important lesson I learned when I first started teaching was that college can’t teach you everything about teaching. You have to get in the classroom and learn by doing.
CPP: Describe your teaching style.
Uffeleman: My teaching style is to have students learn by doing and having fun. They need to read lots of different types of books to learn to read. If they hear the teacher love reading, they learn to love reading. They need to use clocks, calculators, dice, computers, etc. I like to use games and projects as well. In science we do experiments and investigations. We also draw to show what they’ve learned.
CPP: How do you know when you’re having an impact on your students?
Uffeleman: I can tell I’m having an impact on the students when I hear them use vocab, rhymes or phrases I’ve used in my teaching. For some, it’s a look they get that shows me I’ve made a connection for them. Our school stresses having a “growth mindset,” so when I hear them say “I don’t get it yet” or “I’m out of the pit” when they finally reach a goal, I know that I’m reaching them.
CPP: What, or who, has helped make you a better teacher?
Uffeleman: I think I became a better teacher because of some of the teachers I had over the years. My second, fourth and fifth grade teachers really made learning fun and I still remember activities that we did together. I hope I do that for my students too. I’ve also become a better teacher because of the team of second grade teachers I’ve taught with. We are truly a team; sharing ideas, supplies and advice! I couldn’t have done it without them.
CPP: What’s your biggest challenge today as a teacher?
Uffeleman: My biggest challenge
as a teacher today is to keep up with all the changes in education, whether that’s technology, new standards, new requirements, or new curriculum. It seems that just when I get comfortable and feel successful with a process or curriculum it changes or something new to learn comes along. I guess we really are life-long learners.
CPP: What’s your greatest reward?
Uffeleman: My greatest reward, and why I love my job, is the kids. When I see them improve or succeed at something they’ve been trying so hard to do, I’m as happy as they are! I love their stories, their curiosity, their views on things and their joy for learning.
CPP: What’s one piece of advice you would give a new teacher.
Uffeleman: My advice for a new teacher would be to develop a relationship with your grade level team. They will be the ones who can share your joys and successes and talk you through bad days and lessons that don’t go as planned.
CPP: What’s a fun fact about you that maybe your students don’t now (yet)?
Uffeleman: A fun fact that my students don’t know “yet” is that I love to go with family and friends to Meadowbrooke Gourds and turn gourds into ghosts, pumpkins, rabbits, snowmen, Santa, chicks, etc. My family just groans when I say I’m going to make more because I must have over 30 already!
Note: some answers were edited for length.