An Interview with 4th Grade Teacher Tonya Kelly M.Ed

We took a field trip to visit Tonya Kelly M.Ed, a fourth grade teacher in Columbus, Ohio. She shared what’s on her mind this year as she gets ready for back to school!

Tonya Kelly Elementary Teacher Headshot

Pick one word that is your focus or intention this school year.

Tonya: Leadership

What is your favorite activity to build classroom community during the first week of school?

Tonya: My favorite literacy activity to engage, empower, and encourage my students is to read, discuss, and complete a self-empowerment activity using “The Best Part of Me book “. The book helps build a creative class as we all discuss how we see our image (uniqueness), build self-esteem in ourselves in others, and share the diversity of culture in our classroom.

Elementary students working on a poster project

What is your favorite “teacher hack” or “tip”?

Tonya: Let students know what’s going on. I used to just hand out the books and start teaching, but it’s a lot easier to get where you want to go if everyone’s onboard. Students should know what they’re going to learn, why they’re learning it, and how it’ll be evaluated. I also learned to use a rubric so that kids know right from the beginning how their work will be evaluated and, therefore, what they should strive for.

What/who inspired you to become an educator?

Tonya: My star 6. As a Paraprofessional, I learned from 6 African American Women Educators who shared three key points with me.

  1. Positive classroom management is key to your class success.
  2. Always believe in the Impossible in your classroom and you will see the possibility soar!
  3. Never give up on a student.

Elementary student doing research for a project

What are your tips to build relationships with families at the start of the school year?

Tonya: I build family engagement by completing these three main goals every year.

  1. I invite my parents to write two power words that describe their student.
  2. I gain 100% family involvement on Seesaw.
  3. My families receive a book bag filled with non-perishable food, school resources, school supplies and a book to read with their child nightly.

Students working in a computer lab

If you could take your students on a field trip to anywhere in the world, where would you take them? And why?

Tonya: My students love learning about landforms. The field trip I would take my students on would be to Hawaii. Hawaii has the most different types of landforms from volcanoes to misty plateaus, craggy ocean cliffs, tropical coastal areas, lava deserts, and fern and bamboo forests. Students love learning these geographical features because they make up one-fourth of our world, but they also regulate the ecosystem, climate, and weather, making it possible for humans like us to live.

What is the best compliment you could get from a student or a parent?

Tonya: My parents always thank me for believing in their child emotionally, socially, and physically. They learned because I gave their child purpose.

If participants take away one thing from your #Connect2023 session, what would you want it to be?

Tonya: Seesaw gives you WINGS to WIN in the classroom!

What is your favorite children’s book?

Tonya: “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.

What is the best advice someone ever gave you?

Tonya: Believe in the impossible because that’s where the possibility lies!

Join Tonya Kelly M.Ed. at Connect 2023!

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