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“My parents are always learning. They instilled a desire in their kids to learn more,” says Rock Canyon Elementary 2nd-grade Teacher Hayley Strobehn.
“And now, as a mom, I realize that students need teachers who want to be there for them– and learn from them, too.”
Hayley Strobehn is an exceptional teacher who reminds us that instilling belief and boldness in the face of a challenge is as essential to lifelong learning as content acquisition itself. Self-belief and resilience are skills, and the best teachers are those who believe in you– even when you aren’t ready to believe in yourself.
I interviewed Strobehn, asking her “why for teaching,” her teaching philosophy, her hope for students in her class, and her book recommendation for families with elementary-grade students.
Read her interview below.
Q. What got you into education?
A. I wouldn’t say it’s one teacher. I grew up with educators. Both of my parents taught, and my mom is still a teacher. My parents are always learning. From this, my parents instilled a desire to learn more. I come from a family that values education, with nine children– one brother and eight girls– and we all have a college education. It’s kind of a big deal for a family with this many girls, I think.
They also instilled in us a belief that we should provide knowledge to others and seek out other people to help.
I always loved that. Growing up, I was a student helping teachers. Now, as a mom, I realize that students need teachers who want to be there for them– and learn back from them.
Q: What is your teaching philosophy? How do you approach teaching?
A: In my second year, I had a really hard parent– and it stems from this experience– but you have to get to know the student and love them. That parent was tough, and I had to tell myself to just be the best teacher I could be for their kids. That’s all I can do. Just let her child know that she’s safe and wanted.
Since then, that’s helped me with any problem. I want students to know from the moment they enter my room that I am excited to see them and glad they’re here. I always say hello and leave my door open as long as possible. I’ll greet them all the same, whether they’re on time or late– it doesn’t matter.
Q: What’s the most crucial idea or skill students learn throughout the year in your class?
A: I want my students to know that they can learn anything. I wasn’t a math person growing up. I could have been better at math. And every year, one student cries and tells me, “I’m really bad at math!” I tell them, “No, you’re just not there yet.”
There’s actually a student that comes to mind that demonstrates this idea. He would cry every day during math– so I’d have him sit next to me. I’d tell him, “I’m not going to let you fail; you just haven’t learned it yet.” We worked on it every day. He kept working at it, and by the end of the year, he placed at the top of our end-of-year tests in math. And that was all his efforts– he just needed reminding that he could do it.
It’s a quote I have displayed at my house. “I can learn anything.” I genuinely believe that.
Q: Do you have any book recommendations for second-grade students or their parents?
A: All the Places to Love. I love books that remind kids that the things they love are not diminished because they’re different from what their friends love. It makes our classroom an interesting community.