Elementary teacher of the year finalists share tips for effective instruction

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The 12 finalists for 2015 Dallas ISD Teacher of the Year are all distinguished teachers as measured by the Teacher Excellence Initiative. The four finalists for elementary teacher of the year were asked to share their strategies for effective instruction. On Oct. 22, prekindergarten teacher Tara Broadus was named one of four Dallas ISD Teachers of the Year.

hBattison, Monica_TerryMonica Battison has served Dallas ISD students for eight years, the first three as a teacher assistant. Today, she teaches fourth-grade math and science bilingual at T.G. Terry Elementary School where she heads the teacher mentor program.

Battison has this advice for teachers who want to improve classroom effectiveness. “Be knowledgeable of the standards and have all the materials prepared before delivering instruction. Manage the classroom from the first day of school and explicitly teach and enforce routines throughout the school year. Students love structure and discipline as it helps them to become independent. Teamwork is the key for success; having a good relationship with colleagues will help teachers to achieve success.”

Colleague Octavia Silas says Battison inspires the entire staff. “Ms. Battison has a calling on her life, and that calling is teaching. She teaches her students to strive for excellence, to love math and science, and to respect each other, and she teaches all of us (her peers) to give our best for our students.”

hBroadus, Tara_RhoadsTara Broadus has taught prekindergarten at Joseph J. Rhoads Learning Center for 11 years. A doctoral candidate and self-described lifelong learner, she sees ongoing learning as a powerful instructional tool.

“Lifelong learning is a staple in how I work to improve classroom effectiveness. I have remained in school since 1999 and continue to obtain professional development hours during the summer related to my grade level. I believe that there is always something to learn, some takeaway that I have not tried that can be the difference maker in how I instruct my students.”

Colleague Lynsey Wade praises Broadus for her skill and generosity. “She sets the foundation for her students and nurtures their ability to be better than they ever imagined. Her work ethic and leadership skills are simply amazing. Not only does she care about her students, but she cares about her team and is always there to lend a helping hand no matter what the task.”

hGallegos, Evelyn_BlairEvelyn Gallegos is a member of the campus instructional team and Girl Scout leader at W.A. Blair Elementary where she has taught fourth-grade math for six years. She says she creates learning experiences to help her students understand not just the how of math but also the why.

“I set up a store in the classroom. I give each student a bag with different amounts of money and they go ‘shopping’ at the store, writing down and adding and subtracting their items before they get to the cashier to make sure they have enough money. Students absolutely love this activity, and it truly does help them to understand why they need to learn how to add and subtract decimals.”

Third-grade teacher and colleague Cristina Hernandez says Gallegos’ ability to show students she cares is part of her formula for success. “Ms. Gallegos teaches her students to believe in themselves, to strive for excellence and to love math. Regardless of their backgrounds, she embraces every student and demonstrates unconditional love.”

hMercado, Rafael_UrbanParkRafael Mercado is a third-grade bilingual teacher who has served for 10 years at Urban Park Elementary in southeast Dallas. A master reading teacher who speaks three languages, Mercado says effective teaching requires that teachers first get to know their students.

“To improve classroom effectiveness, it is imperative to get to know the students. It is important to know not only their academic weaknesses and needs, but also their hobbies, interests, dreams, and goals. By knowing what their academic deficiencies and needs are, the teacher can better meet the needs of the students by differentiating instruction.”

Colleague Michael Sarellano describes Mercado as a generous mentor. “An aspect that I appreciate about Mr. Mercado is his willingness to help new teachers. He helped me and gave me many effective pointers when I first entered the teaching profession eight years ago. I still apply and use most of the suggestions and pointers Mr. Mercado gave me back then. Without them, I wouldn’t have been the successful teacher I am today.”

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