Erik Ramstad Middle School teacher of the month Joan Braun is starting her 44th year of teaching this fall and still finds new and exciting things to share with her students.
“I live this age level,” said Braun, who teaches seventh grade math. “They will work for you, they will do projects, they’re happy to be here most of the time. They’re enthusiastic.”
Braun attended school in Grenora, where she had the same math teacher all through school. She said her “awesome” math teacher was one of her inspirations to go into teaching herself.
She earned an undergraduate degree at Dickinson State University and later earned her master’s degree in the art of teaching mathematics at Minot State University.
Before coming to Ramstad, she taught at Edmore for three years and at Golden Valley for 17 years. She has taught seventh and eighth-graders at Ramstad since she came to Minot.
Braun said her teaching style has had to change over the years. When she first started teaching, she lectured and assigned homework, like many teachers at the time.
But kids themselves have changed, as has the field.
“You have to keep them moving,” she said. “They’re so used to video games that are moving and quick and change all the time.”
Braun also has to adapt her lessons to best reach the students, who might do group work, then pair up with other students to share their answers, then participate in classroom discussion or work on their assignments.
This year all of the seventh-graders have the use of Chromebooks, which they can use for practice, to play games, to research or to look at an online textbook.
Kids first got the Chromebooks last year as sixth-graders. This year the sixth and seventh-graders have them and Braun said next year eighth-graders will hopefully also have use of them. Kids can only use the Chromebooks at school.
Braun said students know that they will be required to do everything in class and should be prepared to answer questions if called upon.
“We teach them that being wrong is OK … We’re all learning and we’re all at different levels,” said Braun. “Somebody else might get their work done in five minutes and it might take you 10 minutes to do, but we’ll all get there eventually. We’re just not there yet. Part of my job is to build confidence … it’s just so exciting when they understand … that new topic.”
Braun is a member and past president of the North Dakota Council of Teachers of Math and is also a member of the organization Delta Kappa Gamma, which provides scholarships for education majors and also helps fund charitable projects such as Backpack Buddies and programs for homeless students.
Braun enjoys working with the other teachers at Ramstad and says they are all like a family. She is also looking forward to working with a new student teacher this year.
She has two children, two grandchildren and another grandchild on the way and also enjoys spending time with her family, but she isn’t ready to retire and leave Ramstad quite yet.
She still has a lot to teach her students.
(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Editor Mike Sasser at 857-1959 or Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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