Sometimes, teachers seem so much at home in the classroom that students assume they live there. Sonja Tiedman told students about her rough drive to work one winter morning.

At Home in the ClassroomOne student asked, ‘Where do you work?’

“If students see me like that, I will keep on teaching,” Tiedman said. She has been educating kids at Forest City Schools for 33 years.

Fellow teacher Ryan Eastvold has been teaching special education in the high school for eight years. While his students may never ask him where he works, he’s heard things from his students that are just as meaningful.

“I had a student who graduated two years ago who joined the military,” Eastvold said. “I got a text out of the blue the other day that said ‘thanks for helping me out.'”

THE CHANCE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE for kids brought the two teachers to the classroom. It’s also what keeps them there.

“Just helping the students,” Eastvold said. “My students all struggle.”

When one of his students graduates from high school it’s a big achievement, Eastvold said.

“To know they’ve earned a diploma, it means they are in a better spot to do more things with their life,” Eastvold said.

Tiedman works with students early in their academic careers.

“Just the excitement for learning they have at first grade,” Tiedman said. “There is something about their love for learning that still makes me a passionate teacher.”

When a teacher enters the classroom they know each day will be different.

“Every day is interesting,” Tiedman said.

Eastvold said his students may have been awake several hours before school starts, they may have missed breakfast or had an issue the night before that also impacts the classroom.

Eastvold said each day he focuses on keeping students on task in the classroom. 

The classroom must be where students feel comfortable and safe and get positive reinforcement, Eastvold and Tiedman said.

Issues outside the classroom can have an impact inside the classroom, they said.

Tiedman said there are more social and family issues affecting students than when she started teaching.

The district now participates in the United Way’s backpack program which provides students a backpack full of food for the weekend. The number of students who qualify for free and reduced meals has reached more than 40 percent in the district.

School officials said the school enrollment is also more transient than it was several years ago as an increased number of students move in and out of the district during the school year or between the school years.

“In my room, you want it to be a really good place,” Tiedman said. 

STUDENT MAY NOT ALWAYS make the best choices throughout the day but “you recognize the good but you point out the (not good),” Eastvold said.

Tiedman said she always wants a student to leave the classroom with a positive note when the day ends.

The support of students doesn’t end inside their classrooms, Eastvold and Tiedman said.

Continue reading At Home in the Classroom.

Rae Yost is editor of the Forest City Summit and Britt News Tribune, also Lee Enterprises newspapers

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At Home in the Classroom

At Home in the Classroom