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Vista Teacher Uses Good News and Competitions to Engage Students

Starting the school day with good news creates a culture of acceptance and comfort to a fourth-grade class at Vista Charter Academy.

Brandalyn Hill, fourth-grade teacher, starts out the year looking for volunteers to share, but as the year progresses, she has to limit the number of students sharing to five per day because everyone is eager share.

“This not only helps build relationships with me, but it also shows connections and similarities students have within my classroom that they would have never known,” said Hill. “I learn what my students ate for dinner, what sports they are playing, how many points they scored in a game, if a family member is sick, or if they are planning a vacation.”

She shares her own good news with her students, which includes movies she watches, sports her students like, and even what she ate for dinner.

“I feel that this little routine adds acceptance and comfort to the classroom culture, because they are willing to share something personal that is important to them, and not being afraid of judgement,” said Hill.

She loves the good news part of her day, but she also enjoys chatting with her students at recess and even playing against them in a friendly game of basketball, something her class really enjoys.

Her students love competition, so they regularly hold contests in the classroom using class points and teacher points. They also have competitions between groups, which includes quickest and quietest transitions, and the team with the most points on Friday earns 10 extra minutes with the Chromebooks.

“I am a Michigan State University (MSU) and Lions fan, and I have things up in my room,” said Hill. “Whenever one of my teams win, I share it as good news dramatically with some high fives and ‘woohoos!’ This has brought out a lot of Michigan fans in my class.”

This year, Hill’s class had a competition between MSU and Michigan football teams. If Michigan won, she agreed to wear a Michigan shirt all day at school, which she ended up doing. She also brought her class donuts, because they were all good sports.  

“Brandie Hill is an outstanding teacher, and we are blessed to have her as part of our Vista family,” said Karrie Munster, upper elementary dean at Vista. “‘Her students love her because they know she will go above and beyond for them to help them reach goals, both academically and socially.”

Keep up the incredible work, Brandalyn!