Missie Linder has been teaching for 22 years now, first in Des Moines Catholic Schools, and for 15 years in the Johnston Community School District. She came to Johnston as a teacher after she and her husband decided to send their own children to Johnston schools.
“When we started having kids, we wanted them to be in a place where they could get the best education they could get, and that triggered the desire to teach here too,” she says.
The Horizon Elementary teacher says first grade is such an important year and several administrators have made the comment that first grade is one of the toughest grades to teach because students are expected to advance so much during the course of the year. But Linder she loves her little first grade friends because they have such an enthusiasm for learning.
“They are so excited about coming to school,” she says. “They coming running in every day. We expect them to do so much, but the kids just eat it up.”
Linder says that it’s amazing to watch from the beginning to the end of the year the amount of growth and maturity you see in these six and seven-year-olds. For her, it’s infectious to see how eager they are, and it’s very therapeutic to have their energy rub off on her on some days.
In her classroom, Linder says her students do a lot of goal setting with reading goals and behavior goals, and it’s fun to watch them grade themselves and see what they’re capable of. It might sound rigid, but Linder says they laugh all day long.
“Sometimes the kids will make a mistake, but instead of being self conscious, you learn and move on,” she says. “With common core we expect these children to move mountains with their learning, and if we don’t take time to stop and laugh and play sometimes, we will lose them. I want to make it fun and light for the kids so they’re having fun at school because the rigor is so intense.”
In addition to actual teaching, Linder says the most important part of her job is her moral responsibility to make sure each student feels safe, loved and needed.
“Whether it’s making sure they had breakfast, making sure they get one on one time with me, or teaching them how to communication appropriately with peers, it’s pivotal in making sure we develop well-rounded learners,” she says.
What do you like best about first grade?