Pay attention to students’ interests, Make it a game, says Brynne Mielke, 2019 Springfield Teacher of the Year
A great teacher makes learning fun — as stimulating, engaging lessons are pivotal to a student’s academic success, says Brynne Mielke, Springfield’s Teacher of the Year.
Keeping students engaged and motivated can be a challenge, even for the best teachers. It’s easy to teach the same lessons year after year simply because they have worked in the past, without giving much thought to students’ current interest level. But even the strongest curriculum still needs some variety once in a while to make learning fun.
“My point-of-view for my style of teaching has always been: if I don’t want to be in my classroom, neither will my students,” said Mielke in a recent interview. “Because of that, I try to make it clear every day that the classroom is where I want to be. To go along with that, I want to do whatever I can to enjoy my job and have fun, while still educating my students. I want my students to look forward to my class, and hope that the 50 minutes they spend with me is worth it to them. To help my students enjoy my class, I like to add in pieces that aren’t always math related, including “Two Truths and a Lie,” “Movie Monday,” and “Funny Friday.” Before each assessment, I also play review games with my students. It helps take away the negative feel that assessments have, because students expect and look forward to these games. They are a fun way to review the material, and I enjoy seeing the students collaborate in teams.”
Mielke provided details about some of the games in which she engages student interest. “Every day toward the start of class, my students vote on a ‘Two Truths and a Lie’ form that another classmate has created. It takes less than a minute, and is a little brain break. It also helps create a friendly and comfortable atmosphere as students learn more about each other. I also add in extra things every Monday and Friday. On Mondays, I do something called ‘Movie Monday,’ in which I show a short Youtube video. The video is sometimes random, or it might relate to something happening at that time of year. They are funny, and I use a lot of material from Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Ellen DeGeneres. I often hear students say, ‘Ugh, I hate Mondays …. but at least it’s Movie Monday!’ I feel it is a great way to start the week, and gives them something to look forward to. On Fridays, I do something called “Funny Friday,” in which students can earn a Laffy Taffy for helping answer a relevant math problem at the beginning of class. After Laffy Taffys are handed out, students take turns reading one of the jokes on the wrapper while their classmates try to guess the answer.”
Mielke joined the Springfield High School faculty in the fall of 2013. She teaches Math 7, Linear Algebra, and Geometry for grades 7-9. She is National Honor Society advisor and assistant varsity softball coach. She helps monitor the ICU Program in the middle school. She choreographs the choir portion of the Pop Concert and coaches dance in the Springfield Just for Kix program.
See complete story in this week's edition of the Springfield Advance-Press.