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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Coleman

Elsie Billey: Engaging a Wide Range of Students

Elsie Billey of Kirtland Elementary is the daughter of two educators. However, with both parents teaching, Elsie decided she wanted nothing to do with education and went her own way. After initially not finishing college, Elsie went back to school and realized her interest in teaching. Once she got her degree, Elsie found herself ultimately following in her parents’ footsteps.

Elsie Billey has high expectations for her students. “I expect them to be the best they can be, and I know they can be!” says Elsie. With her help, she’s confident that her students can reach their full potential. Elsie utilizes hands-on activities in coordination with ELL strategies to help students really understand the principles they’re learning in math class.

Using some outside-of-the-box methods, Elsie keeps her class engaging. “I actually did a family game show,” says Elsie. “It’s fun because the students get into it. Someone gets to be the host and talk about a math problem and how they solved it.” Elsie says her students really enjoy this teaching strategy, and it gets her students to stay mentally involved in the lesson.

Elsie teaches fourth grade and sees a range of needs among her students. “This is one of those groups that was really affected by the pandemic,” says Elsie. This presents some unique challenges for Elsie, realizing she needs to really teach the fundamentals that her students may not have fully grasped in the last couple of years. Working in groups also helps the students in Elsie’s class, allowing students who get the material quickly to do enrichment work while students who need extra time work together and help each other.

Elsie routinely reads up on new teaching philosophies and what to include in her classroom curriculum. “I use Eureka math. I know a lot of people don’t like it, but I find it’s kind of fun to do,” she says. Elsie revises the examples in the book to make them appeal more to her students. “The book is made in New York, so all the examples are New York City, Brooklyn, and places my students don’t know about. I change it all to this area,” says Elsie.

Above all, Elsie selects content that’s engaging and enriching for her students. She’s found that what she’s using works, and her students grasp her teaching strategy. Elsie believes her classroom should be fun and engaging, and what she’s doing is continuously proving itself to be working.

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