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Few things are more magical than a classroom of totally engaged students and a teacher who masterfully guiding them along the way. There is a buzz of excitement as Mr. Bushman draws a math problem on the screen, smiles abound, students are engrossed in their work, Mr. Bushman asks questions, hands raise, and learning takes place. Math has never seemed quite as magical as it does in this room of second graders. Enter Grant Bushman second grade teacher, master magician, at Dry Creek Elementary school in Alpine District.
Grant Bushman didn’t start out in education, a former psychology major, he realized he had a passion for teaching and working with students. Upon deciding teaching was to be his field he found a principal that believed in him and worked on the alternate route to licensing. Ten years later that same passion shines through his lesson on addition as he quips and explains the problem to students.
Grant finds that teaching 2nd grade suits him. He loves that kids are old enough to do most common tasks themselves, but they have a spark and love of learning that sometimes fades as they go through the educational system.
“I love how my students are developing their sense of self. They love being creative. They want to have fun. It’s a perfect time to capture their attention.”
When Grant first starting teaching, he found himself valuing content over the needs of his students. Over time, Grant has made it a priority to focus on his students and help them learn the things that really matter.
“I now use reading and math for teaching what really matters...compassion, forgiveness, love, empathy, we all need that. I think if we can teach a child those skills in 2nd grade they’re going to be a better person.”
Mr. Bushman has found that many students don’t always fit into educational norms. Perhaps it is the way they think about different concepts in Math or Literature. They may find themselves out the outside looking in. Teachers, at times, may contribute to this sense of otherness, whether intentionally or not. Based on his experiences, Grant has made it his mission to make sure all of his student feel like they belong.
“I realized I was causing that same environment for some kids. Perhaps it was the way they did Math or Reading. They would spend the next ten years of their life trying make things fit. I made it my goal to make every kid fit in my classroom.”
Grant has a donated set of laptops in his classroom. His students use the devices to enhance the learning that is already taking place. While Mr. Bushman loves the ways in which technology plays a role in his classroom, he knows that computers and programs only supplement the instruction.
“It’s not especially useful by itself but it really helps compliment what I do well. If you took away all my technology I’d be just fine, but I enjoy technology, I think it’s fun. I don’t think it makes a good teacher, but I think it can make a good teacher better.”
Mr. Bushman loves the relationships he build with his students. He appreciates the honesty that kids possess and he strive to have honest and genuine relationships with the kids in his care.
“Kids will tell you the truth. When they give you a compliment you know it’s real. Conversely, when they use insults you know it’s real as well. I know that everything they do is genuine and so I enjoy fostering that genuine relationship.”
Listen to entire interview with the Grant Bushman below.
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Contributed by Jared Fawson