DEN Community Member of the Week: Heather Libby

Heather Libby is a Literacy Leader & Year 5 Teacher at Danetree Junior School in Surrey, England, UK. She has been using Discovery Education Espresso since 2013. She shared “Since then, I have attended both an England based Discovery Education course & DENSI in Washington DC. My students absolutely love Espresso! I implement the videos, newsbites, resources & links in my everyday teaching. My students learning is enriched & my teaching is aided by ‘child focused, tailored activities’. Absolutely brilliant resource!”
How do you start your day?
Weekdays during term: Alarm goes off at 5:40 am. I get up, stumble in the shower (normally thinking I’m the star in Dolly Parton’s song 9-5), get ready & leave our little flat by 6:30 am, where I begin my 50 minute commute to school. I enter a quiet school around 7-7:15 am, make a cup of tea (hot tea) & a bowl of porridge. I eat while reading & responding with the abundance of school e-mails.
Weekends: no alarm, a gentle start to the day! A cup of coffee & a cooked breakfast with my partner before getting into the shower. Absolute Bliss!
School holidays: same routine as the weekends, but with no partner (as he’s at work). Quiet time before the school year begins in September. Pure relaxation!

Why did you become a teacher?image3.JPG
Throughout my formative years, I was very blessed & fortunate to have teachers who truly cared about my progress, needs & well-being. My 5th grade teacher aimed to improve my ‘extra pronunciation needs’ by casting me in the class production of ‘A Christmas Carol’. My high school teachers were focused in my well-being after my dad moved away my Senior Year. In 1995, with thinking of these special teachers, I learned about Northwest Missouri State University, which focused on teachers learning ‘how to teach’ while earning their Bachelors Degree. Horace Mann Laboratory School allows the amateur teacher to learn the skills needed to teach in all grades (Early Years – 6th Grade) while working alongside very experienced teachers. I applied & was accepted! My past paved my career path for my future. I now show the same passion for teaching, learning & well-being of all my students as the teachers before me.

What is one of your favorite ways to use Discovery Education?
Being a teacher in the UK, I am very fortunate to use Discovery Education’s Espresso…focusing both on primary curriculum & coding. This resource is focused completely on the students! Unfortunately, this program is only available here. The ‘bridge across the pond’ is beginning to be built for our U.S. colleagues to use this fabulous resource hopefully in the next couple of years. I am beginning to use SOS lessons, after learning more about them at DENSI 2015.

What is a ritual you have in your classroom?
A ritual I find most vital is beginning the day in a most relaxing way. I begin this about 10 years ago & it works every year (once the students learn the routine).
My lovelies come in everyday, open their Home Link Diary to the appropriate week & leave it open for my Teaching Assistant to check. They take down the chairs, pass out Early Morning books & begin their work. This routine focuses on a ‘relaxing’ transition when beginning the school day. Many of my students come from ‘rough’ homes & ensuring they are relaxed when ‘forgetting about home’ is key for them. I normally have the lights off & soft music playing as well.

image8.JPGHow are you involved in education aside from your role as educator?
I have led educators through various roles: being an ICT Coordinator, Literacy Leader, Teach First Mentor, Child Protection Liasion Officer & a member of several Senior Leadership Teams.
Ultimately driving standards & the passion for learning forward for our future leaders!

What advice do you give to a teacher who is hesitant to use digital media in their classroom?
Seek help if you’re not sure about what sites you should use or you’re not so confident. Remember…E-Safety is key in whatever digital media software & programmes you use. Research new websites & digital media during the weekends on your own personal computer or tablet. This ensures no security issues, both with school networks & students.

What advice do you have for first year teachers?
The first year should be your hardest. If you can survive (and you will), you will succeed in many years to come. Colleagues are there to help you, so ask! The only dumb question is the question not asked. Prioritise! Complete marking/grading, writing lesson plans, meetings & mentoring sessions first; know the ‘to do list’ is never ending. Have grading parties! Aim to ‘have a life’ on the weekends when you’re not in school. Enjoy & have fun! Your first class will be memorable!

What sites do you visit to assist in your teaching practice?image6.JPG
Internet: TES, Edmodo, Class Dojo, Teachers Pay Teachers, Primary Resources
What other organizations/groups are you a part of?
UK Panhellenic
UK Delta Zeta Alumnae
Northwest Missouri State University Alumnae

When you’re not working, where are we most likely to find you?
Spending quality time with my partner & friends. I’m very blessed to have friends in the U.S. fly to London this autumn! I love to become engrossed in a novel over the summer holidays! While the weather is still nice here in England, a lot of the weekends are full of BBQs, bonfires & banter with good friends! I aim to include a trip to Europe when I can…either for the weekend or for a day! Just a quick drive to France!

What is your favorite kind of donut?
I love most donuts but my absolute favourite is Boston Creme Pie! Yummy yummy!

How can others connect with you?
Twitter: @libsterlou
Facebook: Heather Libby

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