Brad Hanson, superintendent of Monett R-1 School District, welcomed returning teachers and support staff along with new employees at the annual teacher's opening session for faculty and staff on Wednesday, Aug. 7.
"Make every decision based upon what is best for our students," Hanson continued. "Challenge yourself to improve, get better, daily."
Hanson went on to remind instructors that both the board of education and the community have continuously supported the school district's vision for its students.
He also challenged employees to utilize "different" teaching techniques.
"It's important to think differently about how we teach our kids," Hanson said. "Creating a school for the 21st century requires less time looking backwards and more vision anticipating the road ahead."
Hanson compared teaching methodologies as recently as 30 years ago to the technological advances and learning environment of today.
"Then, the teacher, the library, parents, church and friends were our sources of information," Hanson said. "Now, Google is the new library and anyone with the ability to get connected has the ability to access information from anywhere at any time. Learning is no longer confined to the classroom.
"It's our job to show students how to seek knowledge appropriately," he said. "We have to leverage technology to transform the educational process."
Hanson also illustrated what motivates students who play games as opposed to a learning environment.
"They get immediate feedback," Hanson said. "They participate at their level of competency. There is peer interaction. There is no punishment for failing."
Game scenarios allow students to fail and try again and again until they reach their goal and advance to the next level of competency.
"[In the classroom,] we have kids afraid of failure," Hanson said. "How often have we covered material and moved forward knowing some of our students weren't there yet? With games, students learn at their own pace and have the chance to master the material before moving ahead."
Hanson also promoted the concept of each child having his or her own individual education plan, taking education to the level of the student rather than having the student walk into a classroom with pre-determined levels.
"In a class of 25 students, you will have 25 different learning trajectories," Hanson said. "I want to challenge each of you to use technology to teach the process of thinking and creativity.
"We have no control over the MAP tests," he said. "But do you want great test-takers or great thinkers? Teach kids to think and be creative and the content will take care of itself."
Hanson urged teachers to utilize venues in education that were relevant to the students of today, including social media, twitter and other technology resources.
"Challenge yourself to improve your craft and dare to dream what could be for your students," Hanson said.
Mike Dawson, assistant superintendent, presented a short history on the Monett R-1 School District, highlighting original building sites and notable instructors.
"When I realized I was part of something much bigger than myself, it was humbling," Dawson said. "Monett Junior College sat where the middle school campus is now. John Q. Hammons graduated from Monett Junior College.
"When the E.E. Camp Building was finished, it was home to an exhibition game between two national basketball teams," he continued. "Wilt Chamberlain played there."
Dawson also noted the columns from Monett Junior College and the engraved stone plaque above the main entrance were elements that were incorporated onto the football field when the building was demolished in 1973.
"Monett was also know as a major hub for the railroad," Dawson said. "There was an ice house where people iced down strawberries they shipped from here. There are so many stories rich in history, and now you're a part of that history."