InClass

The Horseshoe Trails Elementary School Teacher responds to our questions before adjourning class for winter break. Grace McCourt is a second grade teacher at Horseshoe Trails Elementary School in the Cave Creek Unified School District. In her fourth year teaching, the University of Arizona graduate

Dec 18, 2015

The Horseshoe Trails Elementary School Teacher responds to our questions before adjourning class for winter break.


Grace McCourt is a second grade teacher at Horseshoe Trails Elementary School in the Cave Creek Unified School District. In her fourth year teaching, the University of Arizona graduate reflects on the moments in the classroom that make her career worthwhile.

What is your go-to idea for engaging reluctant learners?

GM: I keep all the students engaged by using various Kagan strategies. These strategies get the kids up and moving. They talk and learn with each other, rather than having the instruction only come from the teacher. I find that these engaging strategies are effective for all the kiddos, especially in the primary grades. They can get their wiggles out and be engaged in learning at the same time.

What is something parents should do to support their child’s learning?

GM: When the students are young, it is very important to read to them or have them read to you every day. This gets their love for reading started early. Parents can help support their child by working with them at home and practicing what they do in class. Parents can sign their kids up for extracurricular activities and sports. Kids need to go to school for academics, but it is also very important for them to play and learn how to interact with others.

Who is the teacher that inspired you?

GM: I have been inspired by many teachers. The one who impacted me the most was my mentor teacher during student teaching, Mrs. Green. I had been in classrooms before and seen several lessons, but she taught me how much fun I can have while teaching. Effective teachers love what they do and are enthusiastic and silly with the kids. While the academics are important, of course, Mrs. Green taught me that the best part about teaching is making learning fun and loving what I do.

Why do you teach?

GM: I have a passion for working with kids. I enjoy helping them grow as learners and as children.

What should students get their teacher during the holiday season?

GM: The best gift I ever received was a used SpongeBob stuffed animal. The little girl that gave it to me said she really wanted to get me a gift but she didn't have any money, so she looked through her toys and found one that she thought I would like. It was so thoughtful that she would give up one of her own toys to give to me. She wrapped it up very nice in wrapping paper. It was the sweetest thing any student has done for me. SpongeBob sat on my desk the rest of the year.

What is your favorite educational movie?

GM: Magic School Bus

What is your favorite lesson to teach and why?

GM: I enjoy teaching about kindness at the beginning of the year. I teach them how to write notes all year to each other when they catch someone being kind. The notes are shared to the class. It is a wonderful way to get the kids thinking about kindness and friendship.

What is your funniest moment in the classroom?

GM: There have been hundreds of funny moments. I don't know what the funniest would be, but I remember a couple in particular from when I taught kindergarten.

One student asked, "Which band do you like better, One Direction or M&Ms?" Another time I said, "Man, I'm pooped!" and a student replied, "Ms. McCourt! You pooped?"

What is one thing you would change to improve teaching and learning in AZ schools?

GM: One thing I would change is to have more funding for teachers and schools. If teachers want to do a project with students and don't have the materials, we have to pay out-of-pocket. Schools with limited funding are prevented from having encore classes, such as PE, music, and art, which are essential to learning.

Apple or pumpkin pie?

GM: Pumpkin pie

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