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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Congratulations Lauren Brannan, Mobile County Elementary Teacher of the Year

Lauren Brannan

There was a very nice interview in the Mobile Press-Register today Sunday February 17, 2013 (page 4A). The interview of Lauren Brannan, Mobile County Elementary Teacher of the Year, was conducted by Rena Havner Phillips.

Here are some highlights of what Mobile County Elementary Teacher of the Year Lauren Brannan had to say:

RHP: What is the best part about teaching?
LB: Watching people learn and watching people change their thinking, both teachers and children. Usually, the hardest part is the teachers. We were taught a certain way. We were taught to teach a certain way. But ... children get excited about learning...I get to see that in the computer lab every day. Instead of reading a book and doing a worksheet on it, they get to do the learning themselves. They are in control of their learning. They will do research themselves...So, just watching them get excited about about having some control over their learning: That's the best part.

RHP: What is your biggest challenge as a teacher?
LB: Getting my kids to get excited about learning. They are in a technology age, so they keep me on my toes, having to learn about new technology. That’s what excites them. If you are not involved with technology as a teacher, it can be rough to keep [the students'] attention. Luckily, I'm in a school that supports technology...We are a Bring Your Own Device school. We have iPads.

RHP: What makes a good teacher?
LB: Someone with a big heart, a lot of patience, someone who's creative. Someone who is a lifelong learner...You've never arrived at being a great teacher. You have to keep going.

RHP: Please talk about how technology has changed the way teachers teach.
LB: Children are excited about learning. They have more control over their learning, and it’s more authentic, more exciting, more realistic. They’re getting skills out of these project-based learning activities we’re doing. They’re getting 21st-Century skills, and those are skills they’re going to need in the workforce. They’re going to have to learn how to work with others, how to be creative, how to solve problems on their own. It’s not just the content; it’s not just the standards...

RHP: Do you have any advice you’d give your fellow teachers?
LB:Don’t be afraid to take on challenges. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Always continue to be a learner, and do your own research. And just keep the children and the learning front and center. Always, the learning comes first.

RHP: When your students leave your classroom, what do you hope they have accomplished?
LB: I hope they have learned to learn for themselves. You can't always be dependent on a teacher. we are not the end source for information. We're not this container full of information [with] the right answer. I want them to find the answer by themselves when they have a question. I want them to be problem solvers. I want them to be creative and be comfortable with showing their creativity. I want them to be 21st century learners. Emphasis added.

Laura Brannigan is the Technology Support Teacher at J.E. Turner Elementary in Wilmer.

Do her remarks sound familiar?

Congratulations Lauren Brannan!

The printed version and the electronic version of this interview are slightly different. I have drawn from both. The electronic version can be found at Q&A: Elementary Teacher of the Year: Lauren Brannan. The print version I used was the Baldwin County edition for February 17, 2013, p. 4A.

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