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New teachers using break to rest, plan

At halfway mark, both pleased with school year

POSTED: December 30, 2013 12:29 a.m.
Jennifer Sami/

Megan Barton

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Winter break may mean vacations for some teachers, but for Megan Barton and Kendall Robinson the time off will be spent with family and friends, relaxing and planning for the second half of their first school year.

It was a hectic fall for the two first-time teachers, who the Forsyth County News introduced to readers in August. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I can’t believe [the break] is already here,” said Barton, a fourth-grade teacher at Midway Elementary.

Robinson, who teaches math at South Forsyth High, said she doesn’t “have any doubts. I am definitely still glad I became a teacher.”

As part of an occasional series, the FCN caught up with the two young women before the break started.

 

Megan Barton

 

It has been as much a learning year as a teaching year for Barton, who said she’s picked up a few tips she plans to employ next fall.

“My homework checking system will begin on Day 1 next year,” she said. “I tried several systems this year before finding one that worked.

“I will have the policies and procedures ready to go from the start. I won’t have to figure out things as I go, although it is always a learning process. Each class is different.”

Each day is as well. Not only to teach the material, but to do it in a way that is fun and engaging for her young students, Barton said.

Before the school year began, she was hard at work thinking of games and activities to get her fourth-graders energized and focused.

“I try to incorporate movement in our schedule every 30 minutes, even if it is just moving from one center to another,” she said. “I am looking forward to more hands-on activities and extended projects.

“I can’t wait to see them apply the skills they have learned and will continue to learn.”

Barton has seen her own growth as a teacher since the first day of classes at Midway, saying she’s “definitely more confident in my planning and teaching.” She’s also seen the changes in her students.

“They have shown their true personalities, which I love,” she said. “They know when it’s OK to laugh and when I’m serious. I tell them all the time that we are like a family.”

Barton said she and the students established a good rhythm, one she hopes will pick up in January where it left off.

The year has had its challenges, particularly for a first-year teacher, but she said “there is nothing else I would rather do.”

 

Kendall Robinson

 

Robinson began teaching math because she loves numbers, but not all her students share that passion.

“Some of the topics they’re struggling with, it is sometimes hard to come up with multiple ways to present one topic,” she said. “I really like it when kids finally understand a concept, and when they feel confident and successful. Then I know I did a good job, and that makes me feel good.”

Most of her students at South knew their grades before winter break — and not all of them are passing. It’s a reality for high school teachers.

Robinson does her best to help the students, but all she can do is open her door and hope they ask for help.

As the school year has progressed Robinson said it has been a big help getting to know her students better.

“There are certain kids I know even though they don’t look like they’re paying attention, I know that they are. It’s just they do it in their own way,” she said. “But at the beginning of the year, I didn’t know that.”

With midterm exams set for the final week before the holiday break, getting students to pay attention wasn’t an issue in December.

“There are a lot of kids that are staying focused,” she said, adding the first week back will be the tricky part. “They’ve got to get back in that routine of school.”

While students return Jan. 7, Robinson said she’s grateful teachers have Jan. 6 as a planning day, though she’ll start preparing some over the break.

“I know if I work on it a little bit here and there, it will make it easier to come back in January,” she said. “But that teacher work day, where students aren’t here, will be very helpful, considering we have new curriculum and so we’re having to plan everything out.”

 

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