Laura Gilbert, Blessed Maria Assunta Pallotta Middle School
Subject: Language Arts
Years Teaching: 14 years
Hobbies/Interests: I am always looking to try new things (sewing, gardening, cooking, video-editing), but my go-to hobbies are reading, writing, and painting.
What do you enjoy most about teaching? For myself, I love the excitement and surprise of learning new things. I want to inspire my students to embrace learning in the same way. So the part I enjoy most about teaching is the challenge of finding new ways to “trick” the students into enjoying the act of learning.
What do you find most challenging about teaching? Scaling back my ideas. Whenever my whole family gets together (cooking, camping, or some construction project) we always bandy about “Go big or go home!” and as I’m sure my colleagues will tell you, when I get involved in a project it becomes HUGE. This has led to some really cool interdisciplinary units, but just like not every building should be a skyscraper, I need to frequently remind myself to take a step back, that not every project has to be epic.
Best tip for new teachers: My best tip for new teachers is to find as many ways as you can to work with others. The best ideas I’ve ever developed have come through working with my colleagues. We like to call it “Genius Hour” because while I might come up with a good idea or even a great idea by myself, when I bounce the idea around with my colleagues it becomes a genius idea.
Best tip for career teachers:My best tip for career teachers is the same: to find as many ways as you can to work with others. Working with my colleagues to generate genius ideas is what keeps me pushing to improve.
Favorite piece of advice for students: I think the thing I tell my students most often is to “trust me”. Anytime I introduce something new there is initial push back because it’s different and unfamiliar and they don’t want to try it and it couldn’t possibly be something they would like… but I tell them to “trust me” – as in, trust that taking that step into the unknown is not something to be feared or denied. I’m not suggesting that everything we explore will be to their liking, but they shouldn’t turn their back on it before they’ve dipped their toes into the pool, because they just might find (and often do) that the “unknown” something becomes something they can’t imagine having gone without.
What being a Gold Star Teacher means to you: Winning the Gold Star, while it is an award that is given to me, feels more like something I am giving back to everyone who has supported me. To my parents, husband, brothers, colleagues, students… I am a Gold Star Teacher because of you.