To combat the emotional impact of COVID-19 on first graders, Becky implemented a daily mindfulness practice for her students. She wrote a grant and received a class set of yoga mats so that every morning, her class of 22 6-year olds could stretch their bodies and exercise their minds, without talking, for 10 minutes. Becky could sense a noticeable difference in the climate of her classroom on days where the routine was interrupted.
“I believe I was able to teach something far beyond the curriculum. I know my state and national standards and what my students need to know by the end of the year, but I teach my kids so much more than that. I gave my students tools great leaders of our day are utilizing and helped strengthen their emotional health when they needed it most.” – Rebecca Oglesby, 1st Grade Teacher
Within her classroom, Becky is committed to providing inclusive and equitable access to education for all her students by using differentiated instruction, small group interventions, flexible seating and choices in how students demonstrate content mastery. However, she takes this commitment outside of her classroom walls by using her position as the 2019-2020 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year to advocate for her students by initiating conversations about race, inclusion and equity at the district, state and national levels.
“If we aren’t advocating, especially for our high risk students, who will?”
With the Unconventional Thinking in Teaching grant, Becky plans to implement another daily practice into her classroom – “STEM bins.” The idea is to engage students in STEM the first 15 minutes of each day. As students arrive at school, they would select a bucket with a challenge card with a problem to solve or something to build and a bucket of supplies. The students would then have to plan, collaborate and engineer to solve the problem.
“By making this a daily practice, kids can strengthen these 21st century skills that are not being meaningfully taught in our current curriculum.”