Can learning be fun for students and teachers?

Teacher of the Year, Heather Glanz, who has been teaching fourth grade in the Santee School District for the last 17 years, says a very enthusiastic yes to this!  She shared that thinking like a kid is how she does it.

How do you think like a kid?  Glanz says, “Start by putting your hands on everything!!”

The more hands on you can be, the more fun they, and you, will have.  What would a kid really enjoy?  That’s what Glanz asks herself when she is teaching, and for her that works.

We asked Glanz about implementing the new Common Core standards.  She says that most of what she’s already doing with her students, including developing critical thinking skills, is in alignment with the Common Core standards, so it will not be a big transition for her.  She continues to implement the “best practices” that she has perfected over the past 17 years. 

Glanz’s attitude towards students and learning helps her classroom stay fun and exciting.  Many of her students have come back years later to visit her.  They remind her how important her teaching is, and that she really makes a difference.  One such student claimed that Glanz’s passion about science developed in him a lifelong love of science, and inspired him to major in science in college.  How awesome is that?!!

To our question about one thing she would like to see change in education, Glanz answered, “More money and resources allocated for the classroom and the students.”  For example, science needs to be taught through hands on experiments, which requires materials.  “Students can’t learn how a rock forms just from a book,” says Glanz.  In her school, she shares only five computers with another teacher.  Together they have 53 students.  Teaching about and using technology is becoming increasingly more important, and the available resources are just not keeping pace.

For Glanz, every day is different and exciting.  As we spoke, her energy and enthusiasm about things that happened in her classroom jumped out.  She is always seeking an opportunity to make connections with her students, which is often made possible by her ability to have fun with them.  And working hands on!

image credit – Matthew Hall