Teacher of the Week: Laura Flint

Teacher of the Week: Laura Flint

Meet LAURA FLINT, a 21-year veteran who has taught English/language arts for grades 6-8 at Rossville-Alvin Grade School for the past 18 years. Prior to that, she taught second and sixth grade at Rantoul City Schools. Here's more from staff writer Noelle McGee:

The funniest question a student ever asked me was ... if I had ears, because in the three years he knew me, he had never seen them. I really thought he had something to add to our class discussion about the story we were reading because he was waving his hand in the air and desperately wanted to be chosen to talk.

What makes me unique as an educator is ... I like to sprinkle lessons with stories from my past. Some stories are embarrassing, and I want the students to know that it is OK to make mistakes and ... laugh at themselves. Many junior high students are very self-conscious and afraid to make mistakes in front of peers. Some stories serve as warnings about being careful about the friends and choices one makes in life.

The thing I enjoy most about teaching junior high students is ... I get to see such growth in three years. It is at this life stage of moving from child to young adult that students really spend time thinking about the kind of person they want to be and the life they want to lead. I like being there for that important time of choosing a path at the fork in the road and try to help guide them down the right path. I like that they are full of energy and each day is different from the others.

One of my favorite teachers growing up was ... my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Baldwin from Westville's Judith Giacoma School. She taught in such a dynamic way. Until then, we were used to lots of worksheets, independent work and sitting in rows. She traveled the world and showed us slide shows, had us working in groups and sewing puppets, writing songs and performing plays for other classes. I really feel that she was ahead of her time.

My favorite tactic for getting students to pay attention is ... when students are noisy and working in groups, I get their attention by counting backwards loudly. For example, 'We are coming back in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ...' Students start counting with me and know to become silent when we get to 1.

The teaching supply I can't live without is ... book tape. I have a large classroom library and spend a lot of time repairing books.

My favorite pastime — other than grading, of course — is ... sitting in bleachers watching my children's and grandchildren's extracurricular activities, being with family, reading and watching movies.

The topics I enjoy teaching the most are ... the Holocaust and mythology.

The longest I've spent on one lesson plan is ... the weeks spent on a cross-curricular Titanic unit with two coworkers during the time we were earning our master's degrees in reading.

The last good book I read was ... "A Man Called Ove," by Fredrik Backman. I liked the way that many different types of people came together to form a new family. My husband, Terry, and I have our own blended family of six children that includes biological children, stepchildren (I prefer bonus children), an adopted child and a recent high-schooler we added to our family a few years ago and are parenting together with his mother. They all feel like mine. As my oldest bonus son said, "DNA does not make a family."

The relaxing summer activity I miss the most is ... time at the beach. We travel to Myrtle Beach every other year with the whole family.

When it comes to my favorite school lunches, both as a student and now ... as a student: the large square pizza slices. My current favorite: the chicken-and-noodle lunch served around the holidays.

My biggest classroom pet peeve is ... unkindness. At the beginning of the school year, I teach my students social group skills that include the idea that we are on each others' home team. We encourage each other, celebrate each others' successes, work on treating group members as MVPs and thank group members when finished with projects. It is important that students learn these life skills to know how to treat others.

The best day of the week is ... Thursday, because my seventh graders get so excited when their first grade Reading Buddies come to our classroom and read to their partners.If I weren't a teacher ... I would love to be an author. I'm a natural story teller, compliments of my father and grandfather, and know I can weave together some funny things that have happened in my life and put them into one story. I've had quite a few people say that I need to write a book.

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