It’s no surprise that first grade teacher Christina Randle, of Colorado Springs, became Colorado’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. After a childhood spent tagging along with her mother to volunteer at her big brother’s school, and later bringing stickers from home to help motivate a classmate in elementary school, she was bound to be a gifted teacher.
The main source of inspiration for Randle is her students. She observes them in class, paying attention to how they learn, observing what prompts a smile during a lesson or figuring out what frustrates them. She talks with their parents to find out what life is like outside of the classroom. Then she works her magic, taking in all the information and creating a way to reach each kid.
“My best day is when we’ve had fun learning.” Randle says. “And I don’t mean goofing off, I mean when we have a difficult lesson and my students are challenged, but work through it, smiling and laughing in the process.”
Growing up with parents who value education contributed to Randle’s success and passion for learning. “There is no better advocate for a child’s education than the child’s parents,” she says.
Want to inspire your child? Here are Randle’s tips:
“Kids thrive off of routines and structure. In addition to homework and after-school routines, I suggest having expectations for your students. For my own child, we have behavior expectations for school; we expect her to be “green or higher.” She knows if she gets below that, she will have to explain why and lose her treat for the night.”
“This might seem obvious, but I appreciate parents who communicate. Letting me know changes in family structure (i.e. one parent is out of town for the week) gives valuable insight to possible demeanor or behavior changes in students. Letting me know if a student continues to struggle with the same friend allows me to be more aware of social dynamics in class. Beyond positive communication with the teacher, I cannot stress the importance of communication with your child. Be responsive and available; talk and listen to your child’s concerns. Model eye contact. Put away the phone so your child knows there is nothing more important to you. In my home, we have a ‘no phones at the dinner table’ rule.”
Empower Your Kids
“Give them responsibilities. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard parents say, ‘Johnny didn’t have his homework because I didn’t put it in his backpack.’ Let Johnny put his homework in his backpack! Allow your kids to make mistakes and do not save them from consequences. Help them understand that we can learn and grow from our mistakes. Praise and celebrate their successes.”
Support Educational Partners
“Teachers and parents have the same goal: we both want your child to be successful. Therefore, it is safe to assume the teacher has the best intentions at heart. When a teacher approaches you [the parent] with an idea or concern, keep an open mind. Support the school, too; your children are always listening. Your opinions and perceptions influence their thinking, so try to keep talk about school and teachers positive.”