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Know Your Pelicans

Meet Jonathan Farmer

Fourth Grade Teacher

Know Your Pelicans

What do you teach? What is one of your favorite parts of the curriculum?

As a 4th Grade teacher, I love being able to teach everything — reading, writing, math, social studies, the whole megillah! One subject that never ceases to surprise me is word study. For example, last year I realized that words that begin with "wr" often have something to do with twisting or turning. This year I learned that the word "neighbor" literally means "nearby dwelling" (nigh bower)! And just yesterday, I learned that the word "explore" was originally a hunter's term for "setting up a loud cry" to roust animals, and it's related to "implore" and "deplore"! My students know that a sure-fire way to distract me is to ask where a word comes from!

Besides your subject, what's something you hope to teach your students?

We learn a lot in Fourth Grade, but one of the most important things I hope my students come away with as they go off to Middle School is that with a growth mindset, the impossible becomes possible. As a kid, when I saw other kids reading "harder" books or zooming through math problems, it was sometimes really hard to keep trying. It took some great teachers to help me realize that the more effort I put into my work, the more fun the learning becomes! I want to be that teacher to the students in my class.

Tell us about a time you learned something from our students.

Packer students know so many cool things! This year there's been a dance craze sweeping the grade. I started noticing that, as they were waiting in line or hanging out during choice time, a bunch of kids were swinging their arms across their bodies, alternating back and front. One of my students said, "Hey Mr. Farmer, can you do this?" I said, "Sure, kid, that looks easy — out of my way!"

I was... mistaken. Turns out this dance was not as easy as they had led me to believe. But once my students had granted me a lesson in humility, they kindly taught me "the Floss."

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Easy—I'd fly! The reason should be obvious—it would be awesome. Actually, I have a recurring dream that I can fly by flapping my arms really, really hard and cutting through the air as if it were water. So, if you see me in the hallways flapping wildly, I'm either doing the Floss or putting my "growth mindset" to good use and hoping that one day I might finally catch some air!

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