My favorite things…


 This is a picture of me from 1985 when I was 3 years old. This is one of my favorite pictures of myself.

This is a current picture of me from my wedding day with my son, Cole. 9-24-11

This is a picture of my family. My husband Michael, our son Cole, and me. 9-24-11

This book is one of my favorite children’s books. I read this book with my first graders at the beginning of every school year. This story touches on the differences between people and that it is okay to be different. It teaches them about diversity. We use this book each year when we get to know our classmates as we compare our similarities and differences. We read this book together and then go through a number of examples of differences from the story as I ask students about themselves. My favorite example from the book is “It’s okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub”. I love to ask the students to raise their hands if they eat their macaroni and cheese in the bathtub. It’s always fun to see those few students who raise their hands because they do and then when I ask them, “Do you REALLY eat your macaroni and cheese in the bathtub? They always say ‘no’ and giggle.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward

I love this quote because it is true. I strive every day in my classroom, outside of my classroom, and now by enrolling in graduate school to be a great teacher. I do believe that in order to inspire, you need to have a good combination of the other things. It is important to not only explain and demonstrate, but also to motivate and encourage them to elicit a true passion for learning. One of the most important things a teacher can do to inspire their students is to be inspired themselves. They can tell when you have a real passion for teaching them and want to be there or if you are just there to collect a paycheck. Children are intuitive.

My favorite story to tell about my experiences as a teacher is about one of my second grade students, my first year of teaching. Let’s call this boy, M. During the week that teachers went back to work, the first grade teachers had seen my class list and warned me about this particular student. They warned me that he was a bully, he did not care about learning, and that he was always in trouble. From the moment I heard about M, I vowed to make this student my challenge. He came in on the first day of school and after ten minutes with him it was apparent that the first grade teachers were right, but I was determined to change this. His behavior, language, and attitude challenged me on a daily basis. He was suspended for cursing at me and threatening me. He seemed to be very angry. After a few months of trying every behavior modification method that I could think of, I finally requested a conference with M and his mother. The minute they walked into my classroom together and I saw the interaction between the two of them, it hit me. M just needed a little bit of TLC and someone to show him they cared. The following day, began the change that I believe has put him on the track he is on right now as a 5th grader. I started talking to him more often. Talking to him about how he was feeling, why he was behaving the way he was, and explaining to him that I cared about him and his behaviors were upsetting to me. Rather than raising my voice, or punishing him with loss of recess or showing frustration, I let him know that I was disappointed. I started to see a change in M. Because I had changed my reaction to him, he had started to want to please me. While other teachers yelled at him in the past, I changed the approach and it worked. He was by no means ‘cured’ of his behaviors when he left my second grade class, but the entire school had noticed a positive change in him. And for the first time, his new teacher the following school year heard wonderful things about him the first week of school. I told his new teacher of what I did to get positive behaviors from him and I encouraged her to try the same things. My methods have been carried on all the way up to 5th grade and I am proud to say that I helped create a change in M.


About toteachistotouchlives

Hi. My name is Kristen Hammel and I am a first grade teacher in Maryland. I am in my fourth year of teaching and now beginning my Masters program in Early Childhood Education at Walden University. I am very excited for this new journey I am embarking on and am excited to share my experiences with you.

2 responses »

  1. Your story about boy M is a perfect example on why relationships are so important in teaching. It is so important to inspire students, and inorder to truly inspire you have to know your students! I challenge myself daily to go beyond just ‘telling’ my students what they need to know, and ‘inspire’ them to desire to want to know more.

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