Author: Kara

Personal Philosophy

Hi everyone! I hope your week has gone as smoothly as mine, although I can’t say I’m ready for the weekend to be over quite yet. Still no snow here on the Kenai so ice skating has been my number one past time recently. 🙂 Here is my personal philosophy, short and sweet.


My number one priority as a teacher is to create and maintain a healthy learning environment for all students while they are in my classroom. A teacher may have the knowledge to instruct but without a productive environment to teach in, learning cannot be accomplished. Teaching is not simply about giving students the material and having them learn it; teachers are fostering youth and helping them become responsible adults. Creating classroom procedures, holding students to high expectations, and providing a safe and stable environment all are vital aspects of any child’s learning. As a teacher I model the behavior I expect of my students and help the students learn how to do the same. The most important rule in my classroom is respect. Learning how to give respect and how to demand respect will be skills that each person needs for the rest of their lives. Ultimately everything can come down to respect; respect of others, respect for yourself, respect for the environment. One must not only teach these expectations but also hold each child to them. Managing a classroom effectively is the only way a teacher can create a productive learning environment. This should be the primary focus of the teacher and classroom management is the tool by which they achieve it.


Take care!

Learning from experience (just not my own!)

Hello everyone! It is already the end of the quarter for us at Nikiski High School, I can hardly believe how fast time flies! Friday was an in-service day; we wrapped up grades, collaborated with the middle school science, and dug deeper into our professional development project on differential instruction. It was a very positive experience and I look forward to many more.

Now on to my classroom observation reflection . I’m fortunate to be mentoring under my old high school teacher who has 25 years of experiences to share. It has been great to learn from his experiences and I look forward to more to come. While I observe my mentor teacher every day, the specific observation I recorded was for a lecture about Bohr’s models and the periodic table (just to give everyone an idea). This was the second day of lecture in a row so class started off immediately with review about what was discussed the day before. I really like that my mentor teacher begins class this way because it allows him to immediately engage students and keeps them responsible for remembering the material from the day before. It also allows him to do an informal check of their understanding so he can go over a topic again if needed. The lesson for the day begins with the teacher reminding students that the expectation is that they are taking notes and that these notes are to be kept in their notebook as per established classroom procedure. I really like this method. The students know exactly what is expected of them and they are reminded of it. He is consistent in that he expects them to keep ALL papers. I like the idea of a 3-ring binder that stores all material for their class and it is graded once per quarter. This is something I will implement in my classroom.  This established procedure helps students and the classroom stay organized.

As the lesson continues, he keeps the students engaged by relating the information to them. There are a few students who remember information from previous classes and he allows them to contribute as well as tests their knowledge by seeing how much they remember. It helps this students feel important and respected in this classroom.  Finally, in closing he gives the students five minutes to record in their notebooks what they did today. They are expected to keep a table of contents with a daily entry at the beginning of their notebook. This gives students time to reflect and pack up for their next class. It also keeps the teacher from having to yell or struggle to keep the students attention as they eagerly await the bell.

Students who were tardy were dealt with immediately. They were asked why they were tardy and then told to get to work. My mentor kept the interruption to a minimum so the rest of the students were not affected. Another common transition or interruption is students needing to leave class for the bathroom. A procedure that is followed by the whole school is to write a pass and have the teacher sign it. The students do not even have to ask the question, they just write the pass and ask for it to be signed. This keeps students from raising their hand to ask to go to the bathroom in the middle of a lecture. The pass system is much quieter.

Overall it was a great class and mostly everyone was engaged on this day. Hope everyone else is having similar positive experiences.

The Teaching Channel – Check it out!

This week I found some GREAT resources, that I even shared with my mom who is a elementary reading interventionist. She loved them and is sending a few of them out to her staff as well. 🙂 One thing she said was that she wished was that her school shared this resources more. Keep that in mind and don’t be afraid to share some of the resources you find with the teachers who you work with. Don’t assume that since they have been teaching they know about these resources because they probably don’t!


1.)The Teaching Channel : WOW, this is an awesome resource and all video (for those of us that find reading article after article boring). Videos are organized by subject, grade, or topic and it was extremely easy to navigate. I was quickly able to find my video resource without struggles. If you sign up you can highlight your interests and get notifications about new videos and you can take notes on the videos! Check this one out everyone!


2.) Building Relationships: Sharing Passion with Students : This is a great video that I found on The Teaching Channel. This video is quite inspirational, highlighting the importance of finding personal interests of each of your students to engage them in your lessons and your classrooms. I am so passionate about my subject and I want to share that with the students. 🙂 Short little video but gives you a warm fuzzy feeling afterwards.


3.) 14 Ways to Create Classroom Chemistry : Okay, so I may have gotten a little carried away on the Teaching Channel but I found so many great things that I had to share. I switched my blog three times already until I finally stopped myself and said just share this one. This article reminded me of the type of classroom I want to create; a warm, comfortable community every time the student steps in my classroom. This blog gave some great ideas on how to do that, I’d recommend it to anyone.

I may not have diversified my resources very well but I did check out quite a few other websites that I found to be quite useful. I just settled on these because they were the most inspirational to me this morning.

Hope everyone is having a great week and gearing up for winter. Yes, I said it. 🙂 I’m looking forward to skating, skiing, and the beautiful winter night skies. What are you looking forward to?

Until next time,


The Future of Alaska Native Education response

Hi everyone! Still pouring rain here in Nikiski, flood warnings are lasting through Tuesday night.  I hope that everyone is staying warm and dry where they are!

I read both the the Kleinfeld article and the article by Paul Berg before posting this blog. Each provide interesting incites to the Alaskan Native culture and education. The Kleinfeld article highlights important differences in how to engage and teach Native students. These students are more withdrawn, especially ones coming from a village life. This article is 40 years old but I think there are still aspects that hold true. I work with many native students that have not been raised in a village but their parents or grandparents have and still pass on some of the same characteristics. I have noticed some of these students being more comfortable with physical touching than non-native students. With this in mind, it makes sense that these students respond to the teacher that is actively demanding but warm. This provides necessary structure and gives them clear expectations but also conveys that their teacher is personally invested in them  as a student, learner, and person. So I found that despite the study being conducted in a very different environment from what I am in today much of the article is still applicable.

The Berg article and the following comments were very interesting. I found the comments by Jo MacNamara to be rather difficult to swallow. I feel there could be a happy medium between the two because while it is important to preserve the Alaskan Native culture it is also important to remain  realistic about the future of our world. Students of all  ethnicities  need to be prepared for a more  technologically  advanced future and math and science will be of tremendous  importance. MacNamara painted a very black and white picture, it was going to be one way or another. I think it would be wise to keep in mind the warnings from New Zealand and Norway, simply all turning into one culture will not work. Ultimately there are biological differences between races and those can drive how our culture operates. I speak about this from experience. I am a quarter Mexican and did not grow up in a Mexican culture in any way. However, it can be a sign of disrespect to look people directly in the eyes in some Mexican cultures. With that in mind, both my father and I struggle to hold eye contact with people while we are talking. To hold eye contact can actually makes me physically uncomfortable. I learned to adjust and adapt but when my dad and I discussed this part we both surprisingly said the same thing, that we always struggled with this. I hope that example makes sense to others, because it has been something that helped me remember that some things are genetically pre-determined and it doesn’t matter how you were raised. Ultimately it can be a nature vs. nurture argument.

I digress a bit. I believe there has to be a mix of introducing and teaching about all cultures and preparing students for the future. Math and science are clearly not able to be skipped but neither should important, place-based lessons. It was pointed out that if any native family wanted to continue their culture and teachings that they could homeschool. That is always a valid option, especially if the parents decide they want to offer much more than the public schools could. However, I think that homeschooling can’t be the solution for teaching about cultures. It is an important aspect of Alaskan history and deserves attention in our curriculum. I’m not sure anyone can really find fault with learning more about everything. Knowledge is power and you can’t ever have too much knowledge.

Respecting Y.O.R.K.

As a  hatchling  secondary teacher-to-be, classroom rules are an interesting topic. We, one would hope, no longer have rules that are meant to keep order in a classroom of 20+ bouncing 5 year  olds. Instead we have young adults that want to be treated as such, although they can sometimes act worse than those 5 year  olds. My opinion is that classroom rules need to reflect that we are now molding young adults and readying them for life beyond school.

I started my search for classroom rules on  Edutopia  . Another night I had found an excellent blog on classroom management and I figured there had to be some posts on rules. After perusing the discussions I found one titled “Classroom Rules”. Here many good points were brought up but one I  immediately  liked and goes well with my thoughts on this matter was about rules and expectations. The blogger questioned the difference between rules and expectations. Instead of having a list of rules that must be followed, such as rules for a soccer game, one should have expectations to follow. When you interact out in public there aren’t specific rules, but instead there are expectations that everyone  has of each other to make life work easier. I love this idea! Teaching our students about our EXPECTATIONS for class seems to fit my  philosophy  about preparing students for life beyond the confines of school.

How do I go about developing my expectations? I’ve always thought that classroom expectations should be simple, short, and sweet (KISS). The fewer there are to remember   the easier it is to follow. Through my time spent in many classrooms over the last year I’ve shortened many rules or expectations down to a simple idea: RESPECT. Ultimately most everything can be traced by to respect and I believe that teaching students this is of the utmost importance. I believe the four expectations I would list in my classroom are:

1)             Respect Yourself

2)           Respect Others

3)           Respect Resources

4)           Respect Knowledge

Teaching students to respect and ask for respect are important life skills. Returning to what the blogger stressed, rules won’t be posted at a bank or at a job site. They won’t be reminded to bring a pencil to work every day that is simply an unspoken expectation to come prepared. It is a sign that you respect your coworkers that you are ready for the job when the job starts. I think at this age it is time for students to begin learning that respect encompasses many areas and they need to learn that most expectations are unwritten.

Have a great week everyone!


Hello from Nikiski!

My name is Kara Bethune and I was born in Fairbanks, AK but moved to Nikiski, AK when I was four and that is where I have stayed. I spent four years out of state in Colorado where I attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins. There I studied zoology and enjoyed many aspects of life in Colorado.  My hobbies include road bicycling, horse riding, running, and most outdoor activities in Alaska.

I am currently pursuing my teaching license plus masters of education through UAF (obviously). I have been placed at Nikiski High School where I am in the biology classroom all day. I am very much looking forward to the school where and am excited to absorb as much knowledge and experience that I can this year. I’m hoping to have a wonderful year and excited to share this experience with everyone in this class.