We are proud to introduce our 39th Sunday Spotlight, featuring Latasha Hailey who teaches 5th grade math in Raytown, Missouri. Latasha is a technology enthusiast and uses EdTech to make reports at state test prep easier. Walk into her classroom and you’ll find her moving about the classroom, engaging her students, and supporting her students as they dive into different math concepts and projects. We hope you enjoy the interview with Latasha!
5th Grade Teacher
Blue Ridge Elementary
10 years in education
“It was those teachers who pushed me, who pushed me to do everything from to applying to college, to putting me in programs to get to the next place. Everything they did helped me get to the next level.”
– Latasha Hailey
Get to know Latasha Hailey
What do you love about working in education? What motivates you?
The kids- to be honest. I am motivated by making sure the next generation has what I received when I as a kid. I wouldn’t have made it this far. I mean of course I had my parents, but I had some amazing teachers. It took me a round about way to get into education but when I think about it, it was those teachers who pushed me, who pushed me to do everything from applying to college, to putting me in programs to get to the next place. Everything they did helped me get to the next level.
Why did you become a teacher?
I didn’t start teaching until I was 26. I wanted to be a professor and I was in a graduate program getting a degree in history. As a TA a lot of students came to me and didn’t know how to write, or even take notes or follow a lecture. I was surprised they had made it so far to college. In the middle of my third year when I had my masters I took a break and decided to go to a lever lower for teaching. I saw all these deficits and wanted to help out in that space.
What is your “Edulastic story”?
This is my second year back in the class after two years working in an education non-profit. Our students took the state test on paper and pencil and when I got to MO, I learned the tests were on the computer. This was a whole new ball game. I went to a staff meeting and there was a teacher that was using Edulastic. During another instance I told my Principal that I wanted to get my students onto a computer. The Principal mentioned Mastery Connect as an option but I thought Edulastic was better because of some of the features and content areas. I went from typing up my tests from paper, and then pulled some content from the content bank. I was asked to share with the other teachers because of all the data I’m able to pull out of it. Now I’m helping some of the different grades get on board.
Describe your favorite Edulastic “aha” moment.
When I saw all the different question types you can ask. Kids are going to be told to answer multiple select and TEI questions in Missouri. When I saw I could actually do this on Edulastic I sat down and played around with it. The fact that I could see the data and see trends and not manually do the data as I usually do, was great. The questions are based on the proficiency bands or levels in Missouri. It’s everything I need to do packaged up in one place. For me it was convenient. I went from doing state quizzes to tests and prepping for the state test.
What are your teaching/learning goals this year?
I want to be more data-driven with my students. I’d like to use more technology with the classroom. Last year I got a whiff of Edulastic, this year I want to shift into more- and do exit tickets on Edulastic. Students like to see their scores and see their own data.
Sum up your teaching philosophy in a few sentences!
Getting kids to dive in and take risks. I teach from a very mature way – so I need them to try things out and find an entry point in everything they do.
Favorite motivational idea:
My favorite quote, probably since High School is “Without struggle, there is no progress” – Fredrick Douglas.
Tips for new Edulastic users:
The biggest thing is simply to explore it! The biggest thing I told the third grade when I showed them last year was to start small- with an exit ticket.
I started big, that’s what I do. But I’d say start small- start with two questions. The system is very user friendly so create something small like exit tickets so you can see the the power of it. From there you can dig deeper and start building your own questions.
Teach kids how to use the questions (rather than just sending it to them) Also, my kids love seeing their scores. They will see it and want to do better. Or they’ll see it and want to re-take it. It’s very useful.
Favorite Edulastic question type?
Drag and Drop
Snack while using Edulastic:
Cheeseits or Skittles
Coffee or Tea?
Spring or Fall?
Best tactic for getting the class quiet?
I have a call and response. I say “I’m looking for” and my students say “some new leaders!”
Must- have classroom Decor:
Chart Paper! I like to do a lot of group work- so I like to teach from the carpet too- even when I have middle school kids. They seem to like it.
I like to have multiple whiteboards too. I do use a lot of technology so i have two computers- I have a work laptop, personal laptop, and I like to be moblie and light and I like to have technology space. I’m not super decorative but probably a motivational poster too- about learning from mistakes and Albert Einstein posts and Grip Posters. And number lines.
Kindest compliment you have received from a student or teacher?
In 18 years the best compliment I got from a student came from a survey. I gave my kids a feedback survey so I could tweak my instructional practice. The best comment by far- was a young lady who says I pushed her and she liked that I did not teach from my desk. She likes how I put her in small groups, and was always there circling and would be right there if she needed help. I thought that was interesting that she looked at all those different things, the mobility I had, and that it appealed from her.
Funniest student moment?
It had to be last year. All the kids were on the carpet and we were having a numbers talk. I had a couple kids go up to the board to show their work. One kid got it right, the other kid got it wrong. There was a whole bunch of confusion over who got it right and wrong and there was a big 10 minute debate about it and the one kid had everyone second guessing.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I am an introvert by nature so I enjoy just hanging out with friends and family – reading books, watching movies, or playing video games. I think my students find it interesting that I’m a teacher, not to mention a female teacher that loves video games. My students especially one student in particular will ask me “Mrs. Hailey, what are you going to play this weekend!?” or “What are you going to play next!?”
Favorite time of the school year and why:
I actually like this time of the year (late spring.) I like the wind-down- all the math is coming together and it’s their first taste of math that is not taught in isolation. It’s in March/April when it all starts to click. Especially for my low kids who didn’t get it when I first introduced it to them- they finally are beginning to get it.
Greatest accomplishment in the classroom this past year:
I had the kids a do project this past year that was based on using design thinking. My students were launching a school store. The kids were really eager and excited to get involved. I told them “Hey we are going to shoot a commercial” and on a whim the students sat down to plan it out. It was a treat to see how involved they were and to see them work out the math for it. They are going to be doing shark-tank style pitches to the principal to see who gets funding for it. It’s really exciting. I had ideas but they took the project and ran with it.
Tell us a fun fact about your teaching style?
I tend to build good relationships with my kids. I’m good at telling funny stories about myself and my students love the fact that I love video games. I had a student last year who- that was all she wanted to talk about. They ask “what are you going to play this weekend!?” In a new space I am usually shy, I have a book in my hand, but with kids I can share and be very extroverted.
I am a person who has moved a lot and I got into education late in the game – I have taught from 4th grade to 8th grade and a little of college kids. I teach math and I love math but both of my degrees are in history. I tend to infuse history in the math classroom. How is that possible!? You just have to do the work- systems of measurement. I add political tidbits to help show why math is a particular way!