Back-to-School: Teacher's Edition

Colorful composition notebooks. Freshly sharpened pencils. A favorite book bag. What are the must-have items on your Back-to-School list?

At Dakar Academy (DA), students aren’t the only ones who feel more organized and prepared to start school after checking-off items from a Back-to-School list. Here are five things these DA teachers would not start a new school year without.

Teachers at Dakar Academy incorporate technology into their lessons in new creative ways. Here, students in physical education class self-assess technique and form through a playback app.

A new twist in physical education.

Coach Josh McIntosh, athletics director, has student athletes “busting a move” with a video delay app that provides visual feedback on form and technique.  

The app—appropriately named Bust a Move (BaM)—allows students to self-assess themselves perform a skill. Students execute the skill before reviewing it on an iPad, where a continuous delayed playback is set up. The best part? It is hands-free and helps students to quickly learn from their mistakes.

“When you can see what you are doing right or wrong, rather than just having someone tell you, it allows you to apply the feedback more productively and accurately,” said Coach McIntosh. “This leads to greater development of skills and allows the kids to take more ownership of their own skill development.”  

Mr. Gabriel Sams, elementary teacher, creates an engaging learning environment by offering students alternative seating. In his 5th grade class, students can choose between traditional desk seats, bean bags, yoga balls, wiggle seats, carpet, or airplane seats.

A place to get comfortable.

Mr. Gabriel Sams, 5th grade teacher, knows that the classroom environment is key to student learning. After teaching on five continents, he’s observed a range of education settings and how students are impacted by their surroundings.  

“All students are unique and they all learn in different ways,” said Mr. Sams. “If they’re comfortable, they’re probably more focused.”

Each school year, he designs his classroom so that students can choose alternative seating options at different times during the day. Students can remain at their desks, or move to yoga balls, floor cushions, wiggle seats, bean bags, or carpet.

This year, Mr. Sams added a new seating option: refurbished airplane seats.

Dakar Academy teachers share their favorite back-to-school supplies.

A throwback to old school.

Media students at DA are no strangers to the latest technology trends. With access to an up-to-date computer lab and courses from qualified teachers in computer programming, videography, photography, graphic design and journalism, they’re comfortable with technology.

But for Ms. Caitlin Woodward, media specialist and computer literacy teacher, sometimes an old school favorite makes her feel more settled at the start of school: sticky notes.

“The way I think is visual,” she said. “So [post-it notes] aid in planning, being creative and keeping things organized.”

Mr. Simmons, Bible and English instructor at Dakar Academy, celebrates student art by displaying pieces in his classroom.

A celebration of student work from previous years.

During his first year at DA, Mr. Ben Simmons, Bible and English teacher, inherited a wall tapestry painted by students for a school event. The tapestry, which featured a scene of Venice, Italy, was to be thrown away after the event.

“It was too good to throw away,” said Mr. Simmons. He salvaged the student work and had it installed in his classroom to not only brighten the space, but serve as a discussion piece in both Bible and English class. Because students do not often talk about beauty in those classes, Mr. Simmons felt it was an important object lesson in creativity.

“It’s a celebration of my students and the work they can accomplish,” he said. Now, he doesn’t start a new school year without it.

Dakar Academy's physician assistant, Mrs. Lindsay Musser, uses her otoscope to examine a student.

A practical but interesting gadget.

Mrs. Lindsay Musser, certified physician assistant, would never start a school year without her otoscope. In the nurse’s office, she says the most common complaints students have lead to an examination of ears and throat, making it a useful tool.

When she brought the otoscope with her from the States, she was stopped multiple times at airport security, but is thankful to have it. Other resources she finds useful at the start of the school year—and gadgets students are also curious to learn more about—include her stethoscope and temporal thermometer.

Published by Sarah Sams and contributing student writer Kaley Logerstedt.