Learning to read and write are the biggest tasks for first graders, Hillsboro Elementary School teachers Michelle Faul, Eleanor Jost, and Julie Linnens said Thursday. With that in mind, lessons in other subjects such as science and social studies tie back into reading.
“They’re just learning how to read, the reading foundation,” Jost said.
At the beginning of first grade, a student might be able to read a few words or know some sounds, but by the end of the year, they need to independently read second-grade books. The teachers love to see that growth over the year.
“Being able to see the growth from the beginning, that’s my favorite thing,” Linnens said. “From being able to write a letter to writing sentences.”
First graders also have a lot of social learning to do; in the classroom, on the playground, and at lunch, they’re still learning how to be in school all day. Faul said it is a big adjustment at the beginning of the school year.
Especially when children are at such a young age, parents can greatly improve their children’s chances of success, just by listening to them read, reading to them, and looking at their homework. The important part is that parents show they think school is important, Faul said.
All three first-grade teachers got into the profession because of someone they knew. For Jost, it was her fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Turner, who she wanted to emulate because she was always creative and went the extra mile.
Faul’s parents were both teachers, and she always expected teaching was what she would do. Linnens’ father was a teacher, but she didn’t plan to become a teacher until she was trying to decide what to do in college. She pursued teaching, and realized it was something she enjoyed.
Faul, Jost, and Linnens all have experience teaching other ages of students. Jost has taught fifth grade, Title I, and second grade. Faul has taught third and fifth grade, kindergarten, and middle school. Linnens has taught every grade from kindergarten through fifth grade except for second grade.
HES Principal Evan Yoder said the first-grade teachers work well together and make a good team.
“They each have so many talents that complement the other two,” Yoder said.
He added that teaching first grade takes a person with enthusiasm and an ability to roll with the punches, because it is a physically demanding job to keep moving and to keep the pace going to hold students’ attention.