Studying for Success

By staff writer Jeanine Achacoso

At Bay Farm School, students and teachers alike are exploring new ways to build strong foundations for learning. Teachers do their best to reach students, and in return, students try their best to cooperate and learn. Though this may be hard (and sometimes even a little boring), many students have found ways to be successful scholars.

Bay Farm teachers aim to educate students while having fun. Mrs. Starch, a character in the book “Scat” by Carl Hiaasen, put it this way: “A teacher’s job is to identify and cultivate each student’s strengths, and then encourage him or her to utilize those strengths in the pursuit of knowledge.”

Mrs. Lori Oducayen teaches 6th grade math. Photo by Jeanine Achacoso.

If you’ve ever had any experience in teaching, then you might know that teaching is not an easy job. Mrs. Lori Oducayen, a 6th grade math and science teacher, uses different techniques to engage students in learning. She believes that students are interested in learning when they have choices, can work together, and can be creative in their projects. She believes that watching videos, conducting partner discussions, and varying the format of projects can engage students so they don’t get bored doing the same thing over and over again.

Mr. Alain Valois, a 7th and 8th grade math teacher, teaches students knowledge intended to last. “I think the primary approach to giving students long-lasting knowledge is to encourage understanding over memorization,” he said. “When introducing new concepts, I will very rarely provide a formula or an algorithm and ask students to apply it. Rather, I try to lead students to the discovery of the algorithm on their own – most people understand way more mathematics than they give themselves credit for. I believe that if you can discover and understand something, you’ll never need to memorize or remember it, you just know it.”

Mr. Valois is extremely passionate about teaching. “I worked in a number of other fields before becoming a teacher,” he said. “While some of those were challenging and sometimes fun in their own way, I never felt I was doing something that meant all that much to me. I wanted to do something with my life that could make a difference in other people’s lives. I’d often been told I’d make a great teacher and I remembered how I struggled with mathematics as a young student. I took the plunge, quit my high-paying job, and went back to school to get my math degree and my teaching credential. I never regretted it, and I doubt I ever will.”

Many Bay Farm students do their best to ace their assignments. Mrs. Joni Reynolds, a 6th grade teacher, is constantly reminding her students to do their personal best on their assignments. Blythe Wasson, one of Mrs. Reynolds’ and Mrs. Oducayen’s students, manages her time wisely, making sure that each and every assignment is done well. She does this by making a checklist of all the work she needs to do. Before she checks an assignment off, she double or triple checks the work. She always finishes her work before moving on to another assignment. She doesn’t stay up late working on homework. She knows that she won’t work productively when she is under pressure, so she only spends quality time on homework.

Tommy Igo, a 7th grader, has a good strategy for studying for tests. He said, “I have different ways of studying for different classes. My most important ways to study are for my math and science classes. For my math tests I normally look through my notebook and write down the ideas and equations that I do not understand and study and go over those. For my science class we have to memorize vocabulary so it is just a lot of repetition. First I write down the words and read over them a couple times, then I ask my parents to test me, and the ones that I do not get right I go over until I can get them right.”

Tommy has some advice on remaining engaged. “If students are having a tough time paying attention in class, they can invest in a fidget cube, thinking putty, or a fidget spinner – but not slime as it can be messy and teachers do not like it,” he said. “These items can be helpful as they can help you get energy out and still pay attention in class.”

So what’s the point of all this learning? Many Bay Farm students go on to use what they’ve learned to make the world a better place. Emily Rutherford, a Bay Farm class of 2015 alumni, has collected tons of knowledge over the years. “I plan to use the knowledge I’ve attained to benefit others,” she said. “I would really like to travel the world and learn languages in the hope that I can help in both local and world cooperation. By learning these things, I plan to focus on making the world a better place in regards to recognizing the importance of other cultures and perspectives.”

Though school can sometimes be frustrating when you forget your homework or get caught misbehaving, many students have found ways to make the most of their educational experiences.

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