It's all hands on deck in Veronica McCuiston's North Hamilton County class as a new school year sets sail. "Welcome aboard, 2nd grade this year."
McCuiston steers this crew to the land of learning, with her nautical themed classroom. "Summer, the beach, great time, great place... we really don't want it to end when school starts back... so I just bring it back into the classroom."
The relaxing setting serves as a metaphor for how McCuiston teaches. "I really focus on the journey, I know we want the end product, I know everybody wants to see the great scores, but if we take the time and let them enjoy the process I think that's going to stick with them and they're going to become life long learners."
McCuiston allows her students to explore through private think time. "You will need ideas, topic, and thoughts" she tells the class as they prepare their a writing assignment on "If I Could Be ____ For A Day."
But, before students ever share their ideas on paper, they pause to gather their thoughts. McCuiston says "for writing, they would love to tell you about it... And they're very verbal and to get it on paper in written expression is extremely difficult. So I find that if I stop and talk with them a little bit they can record what they just said to me."
McCuiston started teaching 16 years ago and feels called to the work. She wants children to love learning, and when they show it, that excites her. "And when you reflect back on that and you know that its something that you've pushed them to do or you've facilitated that learning, its exciting, its rewarding."
So rewarding, its a payoff bigger than finding buried treasure.
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