Many people become teachers so that they can not only teach students basic learning skills, but also teach them behavioral skills and improve the world as well. This is no exception for Brooke Mischler. Brooke is an elementary life skills teacher at Somerset Area School District in Somerset, Pennsylvania. Her passion for teaching comes from the love of watching her students grow.
Maple Ridge Elementary School, where Brooke teaches, has a program to show the importance of positive behavior. The program highlights positive characteristics and rewards students for showing them. Inside Brooke’s classroom is a bucket with the purpose of being filled with poufs. It gets filled with poufs when kindness is seen in the classroom. Once the bucket is full, the classroom has a pizza party to reward the students for their actions.
The students are also taught social and emotional lessons through literature. It’s not a curriculum, but rather literature-based lessons with examples.
“I try very hard to practice what I preach,” Brooke said about how she lives by example. Even when she is having a bad day, she tries to be upbeat to exemplify the characteristics that she teaches to her students.
“Teachers must be models of kindness, especially at elementary level. Teach kindness explicitly. It takes a community of examples to make it a part of their being. It starts with us,” Brooke said.
However, she did add that teaching kindness to children should happen everywhere they go.
As for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and online teaching, Brooke had to adjust the ways she communicated with parents and incorporate new technology into her teaching. She began writing her students letters, which is something she traditionally wouldn’t do since she sees them almost daily in normal circumstances.
The Somerset Area School District used instructional packets with YouTube videos. With the use of bi-weekly Zoom calls, the teachers were reading books, teaching skills, and generally trying to keep their students connected.
When she’s not teaching, Brooke enjoys hiking, camping, group meditation, and attending concerts.