March Top Notch Teacher

Published On: Mar 05 2012 07:48:20 PM CST   Updated On: Mar 05 2012 07:47:52 PM CST
Paula Niedbalski

CASHTON, Wis. -- Paula Niedbalski knows her 3rd grade students at Cashton Elementary all learn a little differently.

"I'm really big on hands-on. I really believe in seeing everybody's gifts. Students learn in so many different ways, so as a teacher I really try to find those unique qualities of students," said Niedbalski.

And in a digital age, Niebalski is adopting a digital teaching-style.

"Children today are really different in the fact that they're used to this wired world. And so as a teacher, you have to change your approach," said Niedbalski.

That's why, in her classroom, iPads and Smartboards have replaced workbooks and chalk boards.

"We can take assessments on the iPad and we can have immediate feedback, so students can see exactly what they're doing. They can do an app of math facts and go, 'Oh, wow, my addition is really doing well but, you know what? My subtraction, I need work on,'" said Niedbalski.

"Students of this generation are really engaged in all things digital, so she knows an iPad might grab the attention of one student, where other methods might not work," said Cashton Elementary Principal Ryan Anderson.

But Niedbalski also knows sometimes you have to go old school.

"You know, you still have to go back to the basics. And you can't forget about those too. Because you have to show students that, you know, not everything can be solved with technology," said Niedbalski.

She wants to make sure students know the key to their success isn't fancy equipment; it's their own hard work.

"I just love challenging kids to see that there is so much more to life, there's things past our front door, and that they can do anything they want if they work hard," said Niedbalski.

This is Niedbalski's 13th year teaching at Cashton Elementary.