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|The Teacher Feature highlights the positive impact or innovative work of a South Dakota teacher each month. If you have a suggestion for a Teacher Feature, contact Laura Haatvedt at (605) 773-2593 or email@example.com.|
Rapid City teacher looks to collaboration to produce results
When Alayna Siemonsma heard her name called as the newest recipient of the Milken Educator Award, the first thing she felt was shock. Looking around, she felt many of her colleagues were also deserving of such an honor.
“Accepting something like that is so hard because it is such a team effort at South Park,” Siemonsma said. “We do so much planning and thinking together, and all work together really well.”
Siemonsma often takes a team approach with the students in her fourth grade classroom at South Park as well. Her students have different math partners, reading partners and writing partners.
“I’ve found that balance of small group work, partnerships and individual assignments are really important and healthy,” Siemonsma said. “How I pair the students up depends on the task but it’s always intentional.”
Siemonsma strives to control the things she can in her classroom through intense planning and preparation. But groupings and assessment can cause her to adapt and change her direction when need be. She’s always looking for research to support her teaching methods.
Siemonsma obtained her master’s degree in 2000, not long after she first started teaching. “I was working with a bunch of women who were at the age I am now, and they all had one piece of advice: Get your master’s before you have a family.”
More recently Siemonsma completed the process to become National Board Certified. “Part of what got me into it was the opportunity to give myself and my family a raise, plus the challenge and the opportunity to stay current.”
Siemonsma said National Board Certification is “completely about me and my teaching. You’re looking at what you do every day, how you do it and why you do it. It’s reflective – what kind of a teacher I am and I want to be. If you’re looking for professional development that will change your teaching, National Board Certification is definitely an avenue you can take to do it.”