Teacher of the Week: Krista Overstreet

Teacher of the Week: Krista Overstreet

Meet KRISTA OVERSTREET, a 14-year veteran but newcomer to teaching 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds at Urbana Early Childhood Education. Here's more on the former Tolono schools teacher and Centennial High track coach.

Can you talk about a lesson plan you're proud of? So we just got done talking about dogs and they really had a fun time getting some materials and pretending to take care of them. We talked about all aspects of dogs — like what they do, what they play with, what they need. We had kind of a big expansion on that. It was surprising to see how many weren't familiar with dogs. I asked parents what their experiences were with dogs. A lot of them maybe had dogs growing up, but don't currently, so their children don't really know how to take care of dogs and things like that. So giving them an opportunity in the classroom to have those experiences is always important.

Favorite tactic for getting students to pay attention? Making it fun. We do a lot of songs, we do a lot of things that are hands-on, so we're exploring the materials in that way. Just keeping them engaged is always a difficult task for any teacher, but as long as you're doing things they're interested in and doing things at their level, that's always helpful.

Do you have a classroom pet peeve? We want to get messy in here, but sometimes everything is labeled, so you tell a student 'put this right here' and then they still put it somewhere else. But that's what you get with three-year-olds sometimes.

What do your students think is fun about you? Maybe just that I'm always changing it and keeping them on their toes. So I might ask them silly questions sometimes and be like, "Wait, no, we're not going there — we're going here!" Making them accountable for their learning.

What's the best part of your job? That every day is different. You're not going to walk into the same thing every single day. Some days are more challenging than others, but really it's seeing them grow is what brings me back every day and every year.

What's the most difficult part of teaching? We seem to get more and more paperwork every year. But the rewards outweigh the negatives.

Classroom supply you can't live without? I really love my Post-It Notes. I have Post-It Notes on everything. I waste a lot.

Favorite book to read to your students? I really like "Pete the Cat." That seems to be a popular one and there's music that goes along with it, so you can sing and read the book, which keeps their interest even more. The whole series is fun and enjoyable.

Favorite day of the week? Mondays are always hard. Usually between Wednesday and Friday is when I see my students back in their routine and coming to school ready to learn. My routine is back, too.

Have you always known you wanted to teach? Yes. My mom taught fourth grade for a long time, so I would always go and play in her classroom and I kind of just grew up in the school setting. I've also always been interested in the special education side of things too, just to see how students with different abilities process the same information and learn, just in their own way. I really enjoy working with my students with special needs.

If you weren't teaching, what would you be done? I also like coaching. I coached track and field at Centennial High School for six years and it was a passion of mine as well. I always kind of wanted to go back and get a master's in something sports-related or kinesiology, something like that, but just never did.

What did you love about coaching? There were so many good parts of coaching. I enjoyed the kids, the coaching staff, collaborating with individuals across the state, planning different workouts. Kind of the same things I'm doing here, but it was different because it was high school.

Favorite summer activities? I usually just hang out with my kids — I have a two and a four-year-old. We are pretty busy in the summer, finding activities for them, but on my own time, I like to run and compete in different road races or triathlons or things like that.

Do you have any races coming up this summer? I'm doing the Illinois Half Marathon. I'm doing the 5K and then the half marathon. I'm feeling a little nervous. I might sign up for another race. There's another half marathon in Chicago, but I might wait until after April to see how that worked out.

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