Linnea Gallo - Worthington Hills
In Worthington Schools, the big things are how we take care of our kids, how we build relationships with them, and how our students are able to grow and achieve because they know they have a trusted adult who cares about them and believes in them.
Worthington Hills Elementary teacher Linnea Gallo takes it to heart when working with her second graders, daily.
“When I think about what my job is as a teacher,” she said, “it’s about getting students to stretch themselves and to take risks in their learning and thinking, and I don’t think that ever happens unless you have a relationship.”
Gallo has a real affinity for the children she’s entrusted to educate. She values talking to them and listening to their concerns and observations, sincerely.
Seeing a child who is struggling at home, or maybe is just unsure of him/herself, means it’s time to make the classroom a safe haven. Gallo uses the example of expecting students to not only show a teacher what they do know, but also what they don’t know.
“If you’re going to show someone what you don’t know, you’d better have a pretty nice relationship with them,” she said. “And you better know it’s a safe place to do that. For me, being kind to kids is part of being a teacher, probably the most important part, because of what I’m asking them to do every day. The risk they’re taking is not lost on me.”
Gallo is committed to making sure her students know she cares about them, which is why she finds the time to attend multiple extracurricular events a year, including athletic contests, and tries to relate to the students and their families.
“Really, especially for some of my struggling learners,” she explained, “that relationship and that kindness is the only thing that’s going to possibly open your door to learning if your mind is busy thinking about other things or worrying about if this is an environment where you’re accepted fully. That really becomes important.”
In addition, Gallo likes to give her students choices, whether it be with seating arrangements around her classroom or with what to read or write about. Letting them take ownership of their learning is important in establishing trust.
Once a foundation is established, it becomes a daily effort in kindness.
“I think anytime you have a kid who’s struggling with behavior, kindness becomes even more important,” states Gallo. “(That) and endless patience. Just showing them every day that I’m going to be kind, I’m going to be consistent, I’m going to keep asking you these things and even if it doesn’t go well, I’m still going to like you.
“I’m never going to stop liking you and caring about you. That tends to stretch kids who otherwise might be struggling.”