This year, we’re celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week by spotlighting talented individuals in the field of education. Read this short Q&A to learn more about a third-grade educator from Maricopa Unified School District. Staci Oliver is a third-grade teacher at Pima Butte Elementary School. TheMay 05, 2016
This year, we’re celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week by spotlighting talented individuals in the field of education. Read this short Q&A to learn more about a third-grade educator from Maricopa Unified School District.
Staci Oliver is a third-grade teacher at Pima Butte Elementary School. The Arizona native is finishing up her twelfth year of teaching. Also, the University of Arizona alumna is currently pursuing National Board Certification.
What is your favorite school-related memory of the year?
I was looking for something in a cabinet when a former third-grade student entered my classroom. The fifth grader asked me to read something that she wrote in class. I always love it when my "babies" come back to visit me, so of course I agreed to read her essay. The piece was very well written, each paragraph describing a person whom she greatly admires. It wasn't until the third or fourth paragraph when I read about how the person would always greet students at the door each morning with a high five that I realized she had written about me. At the very end, through my tears, I read, "That is why I love Mrs. Oliver, and I know she loves me too." This happened on a day when I was feeling burnt out and wondering if I was making an impact on my students. I truly needed the reminder that although I may not see the impact immediately, I am helping change my students’ lives down the road.
Who is your favorite teacher of all time and why?
I actually had two favorite teachers. My first-grade teacher, Miss Cisney, was amazing. I was in her first "real" class after graduating college. She was so fun and loving, which made me love going to school. My other favorite teacher was my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Henry. One day I told her that I needed to be in the gifted class. I asked her to set up testing for me because I just knew that I was smart. She signed me up to take the gifted test and I took it. The day she found out the results, she told me that I didn't qualify to be in the gifted class. I was so disappointed in myself. She gave me a hug and told me that she knew that by high school I would be in honors classes. I always remembered what she told me, and by high school I was in advanced math and English classes.
What are your summer plans, both fun and professional?
This June, I will be attending the Whole Brain Teaching Conference in Las Vegas. I've wanted to attend a conference like this for the past three years, and I'm so excited. In July, my family and I are going to Chicago for my husband's family reunion. We are excited to visit the Windy City with our daughter and son. Other than that, I'm just relaxing and Pinteresting ideas for the 2016-2017 school year.
What are a few ways you’re hoping to improve your teaching practice during the 2016-2017 school year?
I have two goals for the upcoming school year. This year, I implemented math centers in my classroom. I had to do a lot of monitoring and adjusting, but I think I finally discovered a good routine. I hope to add more enriching partner activities and improve student accountability with their math journals. Another important goal I have is to integrate more technology in my classroom. We have Chromebooks for the students, but I was very hesitant to use them. I’ve started to use Google Classroom, and really enjoy it. Next year, I want to have students complete activities in Google Classroom at least twice a week in various subjects.
What’s your best teaching trick or “secret sauce for success”?
Put yourself out there. Don't be afraid to talk and meet other teachers, participate in as many professional developments as possible, ask for help when you need something, and share. I love to talk to teachers in and outside of my school district and get ideas and tips from them. I also believe that teaching should not be a competitive career, meaning, we are all in this career for the same reason: the kids. Therefore share your thoughts and ideas with other colleagues and don't keep your successful strategies to yourself ... share the wealth!
The Arizona K12 Center strives to support all educators in numerous ways. If you’re thinking about pursuing National Board Certification, the Center would love to assist you. Visit the organization’s website for information on funding assistance, candidate support, and more.