School: Hansen Elementary
School System: Cedar Falls Schools
Subject and Grade Level: 6th grade
Education: Wartburg College, Elementary Education, 2004
Hobbies: Spending Time With My Family, Being Outside and Active, Reading, Avid Sports Fan
Family Members: Wife – Kelly, 4 Boys – Carter (5), Ben (3), Noah and Will (3 Months)
How long have you been teaching: 10 years
The Thing You Like Most About Teaching: Variety of Each Day! Working with 6th Graders, no two days are ever the same. The energy and enthusiasm kids bring to school makes you want to carry yourself the same way each day you are with them.
The Thing You Find Most Challenging About Teaching: My biggest challenge about teaching is dealing with and managing TIME. There never seems to be enough hours in a day to always get everything accomplished that you want to with your students.
Best Tip for New Teachers: Take care of yourself. Teachers, especially new ones, naturally invest insane amounts of time lesson-planning, grading, searching for new curriculum materials and attending to teaching duties. It’s a never-ending stream of work, work you love, but work all the same take lots of time. Become protective of you-time. Carve out time in the week and weekend for yourself and nothing else. Whatever you do, do it for you.
Best Tip for Career Teachers: Collaborate like crazy, I feel very fortunate to teach in a school building with great administration, colleagues, and teaching staff, which are all gold star educators in my book! Great teachers are social, reflective, and proud and always open to improvement. So find a buddy on campus – or ten. Wander into each other’s classrooms. Soak up what you see that works and watch what doesn’t. Talk to each other, share ideas and support each other. Give good, constructive feedback to them and be willing to hear it yourself. This is how teachers grow and improve. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel or go at it alone.
Favorite Piece of Advice for Students: There’s never enough time to do everything that needs to be done, but there’s always enough time to do what is important or right.
What Being a Gold Star Teacher Means to You: It is hard to put into words what it means, my parents always told me in life to give my best, be accountable, believe in the good of other people you meet and get to know, and surround yourself with a great supporting cast. I feel privileged to teach in a community of gold star educators every day, which push me to be my best, when I am around them. Many of them do what they do each and every day without any recognition at all. I am very humbled by the honor, to be nominated for the award, and having received the award. I will continue to strive to be the best I can be each and every day.