Misti Olthoff and Hannah Kendall: Uplift Luna’s Dynamic Duo

MistihannaInnovation in the classroom happens daily across the Uplift network but the teaching tandem of Misti Olthoff and Hannah Kendall rise together every day to help Uplift Luna kindergartners succeed.

“Misti and Hannah are exemplar models of this (Rise Together attitude) because they are so natural in the way one teacher might lead a lesson and the other supports. They take turns doing this and have mutual respect for the other,” said Uplift Luna Dean Ms. LaFrance.

Ms. Kendall is a first year teacher while Ms. Olthoff has been teaching for nine years overall, and three years at Uplift.  Ms. Kendall may have begun the school year as an apprentice, but Dean LaFrance noticed they were quickly working in partnership.

“At the beginning of the year it was about supporting Hannah because she was so new to education and Misti is an amazing kindergarten teacher. However, they became equals by month three or four, honestly,” Ms. LaFrance said.

Thanks to Ms. Olthoff’s leadership and Ms. Kendall’s ability to learn on the job, Uplift Luna kindergarten scholars are enjoying the benefits of two great teachers.  Ms. OIthoff and Ms. Kendall are able to work together, resulting in more individualized instruction and more guided reading sessions.

“They are taking literacy to the extreme in kindergarten by thinking outside of the box with their daily schedule. They have somehow managed to squeeze almost every free moment of their day so they can pull as many guided reading groups as possible in one day’s time. They are on a mission to get every kinder scholar reading on grade level by the end of the year,” Ms. LaFrance explained.

Guided reading is an instructional strategy in which the teacher provides support to small groups of scholars as they learn reading strategies.  Guided reading allows Ms. Olthoff and Ms. Kendall to differentiate learning for their scholars while providing a personalized framework for all kindergartners to read independently.

Independence is the goal for Ms. Kendall. “We are working with our scholars to be independent and to take ownership of their learning. During our guided reading time we have scholars follow a visual job list that requires them to be less dependent on Misti and me for instruction,” she said.

She and Ms. Olthoff have created solid routines, structures, and height friendly shelves to help scholars gain independence and take personal responsibility.

Both teachers share a mutual respect for one another, which strengthens their collaborative relationship and creates a positive learning environment.

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