With the school year in full-swing now, local associations are all-in with plans for connecting educators with each other for success. From member events like networking socials in Beloit and Eau Claire, to rallies for public schools in Milwaukee and Racine, teachers and education support professionals are getting the word out that the union is a family where every educator belongs. WEAC is on-the-job with our members, highlighting their work in and out of school.
Here’s what WEAC Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, a high school English teacher, discovered on her visit to the Port Washington-Saukville School District in WEAC Region 3, where members are inspiring their students and sharing what’s working in their classrooms:
Connecting with students in a comfortable classroom
A comfortable classroom isn’t just for elementary schools anymore. Seventh grade teacher Laura Rashid and eighth grade teacher Sandy Daevel work with their students while gathered on the carpet in the front of their classrooms. “This was the best decision we could have made in teaching English this year,” Rashid says. “Students look forward to time spent sharing about our lives and our life experiences sitting together on the carpet.” A local business donor partnered with the public school to provide rugs in each classroom, another welcome connection.
An adaptable classroom to meet the needs of the whole student
Tera Rogers, a seventh grade business education teacher, relies on her cart of laptops when it comes to teaching her students. In addition to the cart, she uses tables that are easily modifiable so students can easily group together, partner seamlessly and work independently. “I believe in having a room that is adaptable for all kinds of student learning that happens at the middle school level,” she said. “I love the energy and enthusiasm of middle school students, and want to provide them with the tools for learning today – which means a modifiable classroom space.”
Introduce yourselves, please
Fourth grade teacher Lori Large uses her lunch hour to display All About Me pieces students wrote to introduce themselves to their classmates and teacher. “I love teaching fourth graders,” Large says.
The power of a smile and clear expectations
Rebecca Lehnert loves teaching kindergartners. She greets her students with a smile every day and takes time to listen to their stories before gathering on the carpet for a learning activity. Second grade teacher Deb Anderson uses the same enthusiasm to inspire her students to want to learn. “Much of the start of the school year is setting up expectations in your classroom and in the school building,” she says. “Once students know the expectations and routines, it is easier for them to relax and to learn.”
A family where everyone belongs
Sharing ideas and supporting each other are natural parts of a union, and educators are spreading the word. Fourth grade teacher Cody Brown says his local union has always helped and supported him in times of strength and struggle. “My union strengthens my school because we put students at the center of the work we do while working with the school district administration to do what is best for kids,” he says. Seventh grade teacher Amy Greisch agrees. After 25 years of teaching and raising her own family in the community, she is still proud to belong to her union and gets excited when she sees former students – including her oldest daughter – entering the teaching profession and joining WEAC. “We are an organization of professionals,” she says.