Teachers prepare for new year

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Teachers prepare for new year School starts Aug. 13 — are you ready? Teacher Brian Williams is getting ready now, setting up his classroom at Pierce Elementary School to welcome new fourth grade students next week.

“I love the first day of school and the last day of school, and everything in between,” said Williams. “The first day is always so special! The kids are so excited.”

He works to create a safe environment in his classroom where the students feel free to ask questions and try new things.

What excites him about teaching fourth grade are both the subject matter and the age of the students. “We study California history and science. For some students, this is the first time they’re really dived into a subject. Fourth graders have a sense of humor, and they laugh. They love a hands-on project, and they’re very appreciative when they know you’re doing something for them. They’re active learners.”

What about the challenges? By fourth grade, some students are ahead of grade level in some subjects and some are struggling. “We have standards we teach to, but we need to be going beyond those standards to challenge the students. The worst thing is if they’re bored or exasperated. You need to give them something they can succeed at and still challenge them,” said Williams.

He encourages parents to review homework with their children and advise him if their child seems to be struggling. “Also, students should be reading aloud to the parent about 10 to 15 minutes a day, so the parent can be aware of the student’s reading level. There shouldn’t be any surprises,” he said.

He encourages two-way communication so parents and teacher can be a team working to benefit the student.

He keeps class pictures for all his classes posted on a bulletin board, and enjoys seeing former students around town.

Williams has been teaching for 23 years, 22 of those at Pierce Elementary School. His wife, Jennifer, has been a full-time and a part-time teacher, and is currently the district trainer in the English as a Second Language program.

“Teaching is a lifestyle,” said Williams. “It’s nice having summer vacations, and when either of us needs to go work on weekends, the other understands. It also provides for good conversations — we have a common language.”

Story First Published: 2013-08-07