As a fourth grade teacher at Peetz Elementary School, Lisa Honstein strives not only to help all of her students prepare for the future but also to assist her colleagues in becoming better teachers themselves.
Honstein entered the education field as a substitute teacher, which was a “great side job” because it allowed her to continue to help her husband with farming and it just blossomed from there and eventually led her to decide she wanted to be a full-time teacher. Now, she is in her 11th year at Peetz and says she loves the small school with small class sizes and how dedicated the parents are to their students’ education.
“Lisa Honestein is an experienced teacher that never stops learning. Lisa seeks professional development opportunities that will provide immediate changes in her professional practice to benefit her students. Just recently she has implemented ‘The Modern Classroom’ approach in her math class and we have witnessed our students growing in their math attainment as this approach meets a student exactly where they are at and moves them at their pace. Her goal is to integrate the same approach for all content areas so her impact on students through one on one instruction increases beyond what it is now,” her Crystal Apple Award nominator, Jeff Durbin, said.
“The Modern Classroom” approach involves using a progress tracker divided into three categories – must dos, should dos and aspire to dos. Must dos are things everyone has to do but should dos are a choice, they are things students should do if they want to enhance their education.
“I want the kids to own their education by knowing ‘hey, I’m not very good at this, I should probably do this’ and then I also want them to not be, ‘Oh, I’m all done, now what do I do?’ I also want some aspire projects that are deeper learning that let them be a little more creative,” Honstein explained.
Both her math and reading lessons are all set up that way. In math, students can move ahead if they finish a lesson early by watching videos that teach them the main portions of the next lesson and Honstein acts as their support, helping them with whatever they need.
“That allows me to differentiate and bounce around the room and help those that really need it, and those that don’t, I’m not wasting their time either,” she said. “I love it; my kids love it.”
Beyond her time spent teaching students, Durbin notes Honstein has also been an impact coach for the district through Northeast Colorado BOCES for many years and provides teachers with resources that help build capacity and increase their teacher toolbox for instructional practices.
She is always there to help teachers if they want to implement something new and if it’s something that she doesn’t know about then she’ll l take the time to learn about it. Plus, she’ll provide her colleagues with suggestions and feedback whenever they want it or need it.
“I just try and be there whatever they need,” Honstein said.
Durbin also shared that she is the technology expert for elementary teachers and is always willing to help others navigate technology to enhance education. But it’s not just the teachers, for Honstein teaching technology to her students is one her favorite parts of the job and you can often find her class doing lots of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) projects from learning how to code to robotics.
“She uses technology for the betterment of her students with just the right amount of application as to keep students engaged in their content,” Durbin said, adding, “We have been blessed to have her impact on our students for the last ten years and look forward to many more!”
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