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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Great Teachers at Butler Middle Create and Cultivate Curiosity

Jun 08, 2016 10:27AM ● By Stephanie Lauritzen

By Stephanie Lauritzen  /  [email protected]

Cottonwoods Heights - May’s Teacher Appreciation Week offers parents and students an opportunity to celebrate the hard-working teachers in their students’ lives, but Butler Middle School Principal Paula Logan knows that great teachers work all year long to create a positive learning environment. She also knows teachers need community support from parents, and hopes that parents and teachers can continue to work together to appreciate educators throughout the year. “A good teacher has to do many things. Teaching is hard work. Great teachers give an amazing amount of work and effort — way beyond the contract time. They work tirelessly in the evenings and on weekends and through the summer to create and modify lessons to best meet the needs of our students. It can be an overwhelming job on the best of days.”

For Logan, a truly great teacher recognizes the need for respect in the classroom — between both the teacher and the student. “Teachers have to create a safe learning environment. They need to appreciate students and understand that they are children and they will make mistakes. But a good teacher is able to work with students and create a respectful environment for both the teacher and the student.”

Part of respecting students involves setting and maintaining high standards, and adapting lessons to fit the needs. “If several of the students already know the information, how can we challenge them? If there are students who don’t understand, how can we reteach the information or provide supports to help them build that learning? It is a constant challenge,” Logan said. 

Most importantly, Logan believes great teachers are great learners themselves. “Teachers should never reach point where they are not learning. There are things to continue to learn about the content; there are things to learn about effective instructional strategies. Most teachers really have two degrees — one in their content area and one in teaching. We continue to learn and refine our practice. Great teachers continue to learn and refine throughout their careers.”

With all of the challenges that come with teaching, Logan encourages parents to support teachers by remaining actively engaged in their student’s education. One way parents can help support teachers is by creating daily routines that help students prioritize learning. “From homework to lunches to clothes to sleep time, students do better with routines. To be honest, we all do. It is easier if homework and bedtime routines are fairly standard and just reviewed or adjusted for unusual events. Our students need a minimum of eight hours to sleep. Their brains need to recover and rest overnight.”

While a good routine is paramount in helping students learn to manage time and prepare for a busy school day, Logan emphasizes that creativity and imagination are also important learning strategies that should be modeled at home. Her advice to parents? “Learn something new yourself and involve your student in your learning process. Let them see that there are struggles and that you have strategies when you don’t understand the first time. Help them to see learning as process that never ends.”

By working together, parents, teachers and students can support each other in promoting learning at home and at school. Logan reminds parents to bring learning home and connect with their students about their day. At Butler Middle School, “all students have planners and teachers post on the board what the class will be doing each day. Have your student write this down each day (because they will forget at 3), and do a short review with them so you know what they are learning. Connect math to measuring in recipes; connect movies to books; connect science to machines and weather,” Logan said.

In the end, Logan is proud of the teachers at her school who work tirelessly to help students learn. “While they may be balancing several different things, a great teacher is one whom students feel they can go to and get help or support. They have good listening skills and take the time to make students feel special. When talking with parents, this teacher helps parents to feel that we are working together to help the students. A great teacher has the ability to build students in ways that the student becomes a better students and even a better person. These teachers create and cultivate curiosity and possibilities and show students the magic of their content.”