Teacher In Focus: Advice, Insights, And Helpful Tips For Future Teachers

This week we interview Kristine Badik and have her share what she's learned throughout her years as a teacher.

Welcome to our first Teacher in Focus interview series where we ask various questions to teachers of all walks of life. It's incredible how we can learn so much from just asking a few questions to dedicated individuals in their field. From a 5 minute conversation you can see the world through a different light.

Today we interview Kristie Badik who has been a teacher for 12 years. She's currently teaching 3rd grade at Clyde Elementary and writes about her adventures in a flexible seating, technology-based, inclusion classroom in Ohio.

Kristine Badik

When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose to teach?

I decided to become a teacher in 2nd grade. I had an awesome second grade teacher (one of my mom's former students) who just made me love school. I later had an experience in her classroom through the mentoring program at my high school, and eventually came back to my hometown to student teach with her. My mother was also a teacher (HS English, and later college teacher education), and I used to go to work with her. I wanted to be just like my mom when I grew up, and her students always loved her so it was just natural.

What personal strengths would you say are helpful to have as a teacher?

In no particular order: creativity, flexibility, leadership, organization, reliability, consistency, efficiency

What is your favorite subject to teach and why?

English-Language Arts is my favorite subject to teach. I LOVE reading, and I love to teach/show kids how to love reading. I also enjoy teaching grammar, and word study skills, and doing writing projects with my kids to show their ability and range of writing.

What do you like most about teaching as a career?

Each day is different. There is a routine, but the students respond differently, and my lessons differ as well.

What is your least favorite aspect of teaching?


What would you say has been the most challenging aspect of teaching? And how did you overcome it?

The most challenging aspect of teaching is dealing with behavior issues. I have been to conferences to learn different tips, read books on behavior management, and implemented a clip chart, and Whole Brain teaching. We also utilize PBIS at our school.

What is your philosophy of education?

I believe: experiences enhance learning individuals develop at different rates learning and development depend on learners' experiences learners construct knowledge that makes sense to them new learning depends on current understanding social interaction facilitates learning the most meaningful learning takes place in real work tasks learning requires practice and feedback every child WILL learn focusing on children's strengths will aid their learning we become better at reading, writing, math, science and social studies by DOING them.

Because of what I believe, I will: provide learners with a variety of examples and presentations of the content promote high levels of interaction make assessment an integral part of the teaching-learning process design learning activities that challenge learners help students makes information meaningful through organization, imagery, elaboration and activity give students choices so they will take an active role in their education.

To accomplish these goals, I pledge to: treat students as people first, learners second provide students with unconditional positive regard by separating their behaviors from their intrinsic worth create a safe and orderly classroom where students believe they can learn and they are expected to do so

Describe your teaching style.

My teaching style consists of 3 elements: making choices, hands-on experiences, and having fun. I like to show students that I am a person, too, and create a rapport so we mutually understand and respect each other. I like students to have time to create their own learning and choose what they want to learn about via projects in writing, or during our Genius Hour time. Students work in collaborative hetero- or homogeneous groups for centers, or during Daily 5 time. We laugh and have fun when we learn because they are still children, and need to see that learning is a life-long skill that can be enjoyed!

How do you organize your classroom?

My classroom is extremely organized! I have a place for everything and everything is in its place. The students pick up on this, and adapt to the environment.

How do you structure your time to manage all of the duties associated with teaching?

I work very efficiently. I use time during the day when my students are working to grade papers or pull groups. When my kids are at recess I enter grades, or work on lesson plans. During their daily special, I work on assessing my lessons from the day and grouping students to reteach (if needed, will pull later). I do work after school to plan with my grade level, and at home for long-term plans or units for the year.

What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?

My greatest success would be creating a classroom where my students feel valued, can be risk takers, and that it is a place where they can achieve their goals with my help.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students today?

Perseverance. Many students today aren't willing to stick with it, keep going, or put the hard work in to get results. They want to take the easy route, or to "get it" immediately. Learning isn't immediate; it's a process that can be long, with results and the fruits of your labor coming later.

What are the qualities of an excellent teacher?

Ability to build rapport with students, creativity to see big picture and how everything ties together, hard-worker/tries new things/flexible.

How do you motivate your students to become active learners in your classroom? How do you encourage class participation?

I hand control over to my students from day 1. They know I am in charge overall, but that they are valued members of the classroom. I ask them to explain their thinking- no right or wrong way, participate freely, get involved, and be active learners. I encourage them to participate by creating a rapport with them from the time they were in second grade (we have a move-up day where kids meet their 3rd grade teacher). I am also actively involved in our school by being on the morning announcements, heading up Student Council, and organizing activities for our whole school (flash mobs, dress up days, ice bucket challenge, music videos, kiss a pig fundraiser, etc). This shows the kids that I am on their side as well. We are all one big team and family. They know I care about them deep down, and that I respect where each one of them comes from.

Have you integrated technology in your own classroom? If so, what have you integrated and how have you done it?

We have a class set of Chromebooks. Students use them to write (via Google Docs), work on words via Quizlet, watch/listen to books in YouTube, use QR codes, and play games to review/learn math skills. Five years ago, I wrote a grant with 2 other teachers to receive iPads in our classrooms. This kind of propelled the technology motion for our district in grades K-3 to start getting more iPads, or Chromebooks.

What do you think the future of education will look like?

I think the future of education will be very personalized with each student basically having an IEP, whether they are identified or not. I think it will be very centered around technology as well.

How do you establish and maintain good communication with the parents of your students?

I make a positive contact at the beginning of the year to each parent and student. I also am available by email, utilize a blog, and the Remind app. They know I am here to help, and that we are a team.

What advice would you give anyone considering becoming a teacher in the future?

Be flexible, find your tribe of colleagues that you can count on for anything, and learn to rely on yourself as you will know what is best for your students!

Tags: Teacher interview, Elementary

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