Gainesville Daily Register

Schools

August 21, 2011

Preparation key to success, GISD teachers say

Gainesville — Parents often prepare for the first day of school as much as their kids do.

Getting ready for a new school year can be exciting for everyone involved.

Students are usually ready to get back and see their peers. Parents are excited, and teachers are eager to get back to teaching.

But for educators in all grades, an extra amount of preparation is required before students enter the classroom.

Whether it is writing lesson plans, decorating their classrooms, attending staff development or spending time studying new state requirements, teachers spend the weeks leading up to school working out all the kinks for the first day of class.

This year is no different. With many local school districts set to begin classes Monday, educators have been on their respective campuses tending to the smallest of details.

For each grade, the pre-school preparation is a bit different because the ideas are the same, but the details are different.

At the kindergarten level, preparation is all about creating a fun atmosphere with bright colors, helpful labeling and a personal, homey space for each child, Edison Elementary kindergarten grade leader Kelly Stogner said.

Like every school in the district, GISD kindergarten teachers are developing lesson plans that fall within CSPOPE, the district’s new math curriculum.

“It’s the same information, but in a different order,” kindergarten teacher Jamie Pulte said. “Used to, we would (progress) from beginning to end in the book. Now we are using CSCOPE’s order. For example, we will start with numbers rather than position words this year.”

At the middle school level, seventh and eight grade social studies teacher Bridgie Summers said the preparation for designing a classroom is a mental thing along with an extension from last year.

“You know what works and what doesn’t,” she said.

At the kindergarten level, Summers decided to use bright colors in her room to create a comforting atmosphere for her young students.

This attention to detail continues for teachers even at the high school level.

High school physics teacher Jerry Bruton said it’s all about bringing out each student’s inner child.

“These kids here may be in high school, but inside they are those same little kids that were in kindergarten years ago,” he said.

Bruton gave his daughter — an elementary education student at the University of Texas — the opportunity to create engaging bulletin boards for his students.

Middle School teacher Jerry Rodgers said he is excited about changes in the state’s standardized testing system. Texas is changing the testing assessment from the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test to the State of Texas Academic Assessment Readiness (STAAR) test.

For this new test, “we are teaching the kids what they need to know and not how to take a test,” Rodgers said.

Above all, Bruton said preparation is about making students comfortable and more successful in the classroom.

“We are creating a home for the kids for the next nine months.”

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