Louisville Magazine

DEC 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 12.18 53 lockdown drill, I'd read it to keep them focused. I hate the thought that it happens. I do everything I can to keep them calm and keep them safe. We talk about our options. e district is unveiling Alice (active shooter response) training to allow folks more freedom of choice in how they respond. I'm trying to wrap my head around it. I have a three-year-old and she is at a preschool and they have these drills. She was explaining to me, 'is is what we do when the strangers come.' I was like, 'Dear, God. What? What?' is is the world we live in." Anything else? "I remember being around the sixth-grade age, sitting on my mother's bed. I was crying, I was angry. I don't remember why. And she said, 'I don't understand, I don't understand. Maybe I don't remember what it's like.' I remember clearly thinking, 'Not me, I'm going to remember. Don't forget what this is like. You're going to need to remember this.' I can see these feelings in my students and I have empathy. It's usually around March when I'll have to have this conversation with the girls. We'll have the conversation, 'Have you noticed that you're really mad at your parents?' ey'll smack the table, 'Yes, ma'am.' I'll say, 'Have you noticed that you're mad at all your teachers?' And they'll groan. 'And your friends?' en I'll say, 'Guess what, guys? It's not them. is is just part of the process. is is where you are. is is what seventh grade is. You're frustrated, because you want to go fast and slow at the same time. It's OK to be frustrated, but let's go a little slower with our frustration.' It usually buys me Šve or six weeks. A lot of my kids, I can see them where they are, and they cut me some slack." year or so.' I said, 'Check in with her again. I see her working hard, being OK to make mistakes and ask questions.' I hope I'm changing views over the long run that people are more interest- ed in math. Especially underrepresented populations, so they can get higher-paying jobs and reach higher levels." Why have you chosen public-school teaching? "It's more challenging. I taught in Catholic schools for four years. But here there's a whole lot more room for growth — for me as a person. Learning to deal with a variety of people and trying to meet their needs. I'm over 30 years teaching, and I'm never bored. I have lower-performing eighth-graders, advanced-placement algebra, and gifted and talented geometry students. I'm teaching a wide range of abilities." What's the most dicult part of being a teacher? "I think it's challenging to help kids to learn math who are struggling with one of their parents being killed in a shooting over the summer. Or if they're homeless and don't know where their next meal is going to be. Our kids deal with issues that are far more important in their life than education. We try our best to (make them) feel comfortable and safe, but it's challenging to meet that many needs at one time. "I do the best I can to develop a relationship with them. I'll check in with them if I know something's going on, see what the status is. I have one kid who — I have peanut butter crackers in the room, and she'll ask for them. She'll usually ask for them at the end of the day, and I wonder if that's what she's taking home for her supper. Or if we think a kid needs a coat or something, we'll send them to the Youth Service Center. You try to meet as many of those needs as you can. No matter what they dish out, every day they come in, they have a clean slate. ey might have cussed you out the day before, but the next day they come in and you say, 'OK, today we're going to be successful.'" How do you handle outbursts? "Sometimes it's standing close to them. Sometimes it's asking them what's going on. Asking, 'Who or what has hurt you today?' Sometimes they need a break, and I'll let them go work in another person's room, if they want. As far as trying to get the academics in, I'll do extra math help once a week and invite them to come to that. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won't. You do what you can. You know, not having a pencil is not a big deal. Not having paper is not a big deal. I make it clear that that's in the room, if you need it, go get it. You make the little things inconsequential. ere's a solution to that that's no big deal." In what ways have you seen education and students change in your 30 years teaching? "e struggles that kids have today, I feel like there's more now that they have to deal with that they didn't 30 years ago. ere were still kids who had a di–cult home life, abuse, but I don't think there was as much homelessness. Or if there was, I wasn't as aware of it. Substance abuse wasn't as prevalent then. ere are some factors in society that make it really challenging for kids to grow up these days. We have to acknowledge that they're doing the best they can, get them the help we can, then try to work on the academics." THERESA REILLY 30-PLUS YEARS TEACHING NOE MIDDLE SCHOOL EIGHTH GRADE Why did you become a teacher? "I felt like I could make a di—erence. I teach math — and I feel it gets a very negative light. If I could help people understand it, or look at it in a di—erent light, that would be awesome. As I've continued, I've learned a lot about 'growth mindset' and 'mathematical mindset.' My focus the last few years is helping students understand that it's OK to make mistakes in math. Mistakes just help you along the way; it's not a time to give up. You're actually growing your brain and understanding at a much deeper level. "I feel like it changes a lot of my students' attitudes. It helps some of them work harder. It helps some of them feel better about their struggle. I had a parent who said, 'Oh, my daughter doesn't think she's good at math.' I said, 'Have you checked in with her lately?' She said, 'No, it must've been last

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