Superpower: Making connections and storytelling.
“Every student matters. Every student is a unique individual. Every student deserves the best I can give them in order to help them grow and realize their greatest potential.” This is how Barb Malchow approaches teaching every single day. With a sign in her room that reads “I am of great worth. I have unlimited potential. I can make good choices. I can do hard things. I am amazing inside and out,” Malchow challenges students to believe in themselves.
Teaching is a second career for Malchow with this year being the most challenging to date. She started with the District in 2016 and currently teaches fifth grade at Mitchell Elementary. With challenges coming from many directions, she leans into her super ability to make connections and storytelling to continue to engage with students. “I find interesting ways to connect with topics we read about or lessons I’m teaching. When I have a good story to go along with it, that increases the engagement from students because they are very interested in what I’m sharing with them. It often leads to additional discussions among students which also increases classroom engagement.”
Along with most teachers across the District, Malchow has needed to be flexible, utilize every resource available, ask for help, and re-establish a work-life balance. “I’ve learned that I’m very good at being adaptable because since last spring life seems to change by the minute or the day. What works on one day might not be the best way to do it the next day.”
One thing that has been easy has been establishing relationships. In moments that often repeat themselves, Malchow finds joy when past students who transition to middle school and who still take time to reach out to her. “They’ve told me they miss being in my class and they want me to know they are doing well in middle school. It’s pretty powerful and humbling to realize the impact I get to have on young people each year.”