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Teachers Spotlight: Kristen Wootton, Dove

We love each of our teachers. They make such positive impacts on each of their students and see the potential in every child. They sacrifice so much so that there

“At Dove Academy, we are a family. We are lucky to have incredible teachers like Mrs. Wootton who are passionate and dedicated to the needs of their students,” Tommy Brooks, principal at Dove Academy, said.

1. What grade do you teach and how long have you been at Dove Academy?
I have been at Dove Academy for the past four years. Each year has been awesome. Two of the four years I taught seventh and eighth-grade math. One year I taught sixth, seventh and eighth-grade math. And, surprisingly I also spent one year being a kindergarten teacher!

2. What was the deciding factor in choosing to teach at Dove?
There were several factors involved in choosing to teach at Dove. First, there was an immediate welcoming feeling just driving onto the property. The building itself and the surrounding community are clean and well cared for. When I walked into the front office, they were friendly and helpful. After learning about the No Excuses University program and the Character Choice curriculum, it was obvious that Dove approached education with a whole child philosophy, giving me the confidence that this would be the place to help me reach my full teaching potential. Lastly, the staff members who were part of the interview team were just really nice, down to earth people. I felt confident that these were the people I could spend my days collaborating and growing with.

3. How do you build a family-like atmosphere in your classroom?
Safe and sound is my mantra. Not just in the physical sense, but also in knowing that each person’s ideas and opinions are valued. Vulnerability is encouraged and kindness is paramount. It’s important that students feel safe to express themselves and learn to respect and listen to others. There are rules to be followed and jobs to be done and each student is aware that they are an integral part of this.

That said, it’s also important that they find comfort in their physical surroundings since so much of our day is spent here together so a plant, a lamp, a rug here and there…it all adds to our family-like atmosphere.

4. What’s your secret ingredient in your classroom? What techniques do you use that students really gravitate toward?
My secret ingredient would be the belief that every student can “show out” in math because the mathematical ability is not a characteristic fixed a birth. What better way to exercise our brains than with strategizing and persevering in mathematical problem-solving!
Knowing that this ability is not predetermined also enables students to take responsibility for their attitudes and actions in the classroom. It has been instrumental in reducing the, “Why do I need to know this” and the “I’m not good at math” comments to a minimum.

5. What motivates you to be the best teacher you can be?
I am motivated every day by the fact that each day is quite literally a “new day!” Any successes or failures from the past are just that …the past…and replaced each day with new hope. Not just my hope of somehow influencing students in a positive way, but the hope I see in the faces of my students as they enter the classroom. The smile on students’ faces when they think they can’t do something and then realize that anything is possible is the best motivator ever. I love my classroom! It is one of my favorite places to be.

6. In what ways are creativity and innovative thinking used on a daily basis in your classroom?
Risk-taking is always encouraged in the classroom and one of my students’ favorite things to do is to switch roles and teach the class. Everyone learns, even the teacher when students demonstrate their unique way of approaching the problems. They like using the Promethean board to do this using all the different colors and options. We take every opportunity possible to share out different ways to go about problem-solving, including YouTube videos, group collaboration, and hands-on activities.

7. How would a student best describe you?
I had to go to the students to answer this one. When asked, I got a lot of, “Nice, caring person, helpful, fun, approachable, dependable.” When pressed for more information, I was told that I was, “active, you walk around a lot, you give hands on work, you love math and it shows.” I also heard quite a few, “you don’t yell.” I think that was a compliment? 🙂

8. What would your colleagues say about you?
Again, I went straight to the source for the answer. They were complimentary saying I was caring, dedicated, fun, and hard working. I was also told that I “take everything to heart,” and when asked for clarification was told, “you want every child to learn…”

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