Welcome to Feature Friday! Where we showcase a new teacher each week in an interview. For past Feature Friday interviews, go here.
Today’s Feature Friday is highlighting Haley Trauntvein, a 4th-grade teacher in the small town of Tremonton, Utah. Haley loves teaching 4th-grade because she loves seeing how independent the students are becoming at this age and it’s fun for her to see them develop their personalities and sense of humor. Haley received her teaching degree from Utah State University. Go Aggies!
What made you want to go into teaching?
“Growing up, my father was a high school teacher, and one of my closest aunts was an elementary teacher, so it was always on my mind, but what really got me into it was when I actually did my high school senior project of tutoring in a middle school math class. This class was specifically for eighth-grade students who tested well below the benchmark, to the point where they were on a second or third-grade level. Over the semester, I went in every morning and provided one-on-one tutoring and small group lessons with the supervision of an awesome teacher. After that semester, my life was changed forever. I let myself get scared out of it for a while and tried out my hand in cosmetology, which I still love a lot. Once I moved to Logan, Utah a few years later, I became a teacher’s aide in a third-grade classroom, I finally got myself to start taking classes, and now I’ve been graduated for a little over a year, and still loving it.”
What is one of your favorite ways to utilize technology in the classroom?
“My school purchased iPads for all the teachers this year, as well as software to project the screen up onto the smartboard. Being able to have students interact with it has been so much fun. I also love the mobility of the iPad. Being tied down to standing at the document camera makes it really hard to reach your more challenging students, so having the ability to walk around and be right with them has been amazing.”
How have you integrated the arts into your core curriculum?
“One of my favorite ways that we have integrated art into the curriculum was by doing character sketches of the book Holes. Groups of students were assigned to work together to sketch what the character might look like and to use their personality and other character traits to fill in the background. I definitely had some kids take more artistic license with their characters… but it was still very fun and whenever we pass their posters out in the hall, they beam with pride.”
If you could recommend one children’s book, what would it be and why?
“I honestly love the book Holes, maybe it’s because I got to read it when I was a kid myself and loved it then, but being able to teach about it and get my students to really think about the overarching theme of luck, destiny, and chance, has been so fun and each student has had such unique perspectives to contribute to the discussion.”
What are your best tips for avoiding burnout?
“It’s probably not the healthiest, but after a hard day, I reward myself by going to the local soda shop (shoutout to Soda Fixx!) and get a pop and one (or two) of their delectable stuffed rice crispy treats to eat on my commute home. If that doesn’t work, I call my dad and make him listen to my complaints.”
Who influenced you most to choose a career in education?
“All of the kids I’ve been so lucky to meet and teach are my biggest inspirations. At one of the schools I worked at, I was shown Rita Pierson’s TEDTalk, “Every Kid Needs a Champion,” and I really took that to heart. I get so much from these kids, and they deserve to have someone looking out for them and their needs. I’m not calling myself a “champion” by any means, but I’ll fight for these kids’ rights any day.”
Thanks, Haley for the great tips and insight you had for us today. I think we all should consider a soda after a hard day of teaching, we deserve it! Come back next week for our next Feature Friday where we are privileged to hear from Kim Anderson, an educator, and administrator.