Linda Dishman, a fifth-grade teacher at Berryton Elementary School in Berryton, Kansas, is a master at marrying content with standards. For the fifth grade’s annual study of the Boston Massacre, a 1770 mob attack in colonial Massachusetts, Dishman found primary and secondary documents, developed a plan for students to explore and compare them, and guided the instructional team through marrying the research, writing, reading, listening, and social studies standards, as well as developing a rubric for assessment. Students wrote argumentative essays defending the colonists or soldiers based on who they thought were most innocent or most at fault. To address the speaking standards, Dishman staged a town hall-style meeting where students read their essays for the “colonial community.”
Dishman’s expectations are high, both for students and for herself. She uses manipulatives like bread, candy bars and brownies to teach multiplication and division of fractions, helping students connect math to their real-life experiences. Dishman plans her lessons meticulously and adjusts on the go in response to data, student needs or unexpected roadblocks. She helps fifth-graders set goals and monitor their progress, always supporting them with a concrete plan to help reach their targets. Dishman believes every lesson is important and creates a safe environment in which students can take risks and explore. A familiar mantra in her classroom: “Failure leads to success.” And succeed they do. On MAP math assessments in 2017-18, 71% of her students met or exceeded expected growth from fall to spring; 88% scored on or above grade level.
Dishman has served on leadership teams for her building and the Shawnee Heights district, helping to implement conceptual mathematics instruction, balanced literacy, and growth mindset development. She took a leadership role in developing performance assessments for the district, presenting professional development and collaborating with grade-level teams as they developed tasks and rubrics. She has presented at math and science conferences and regularly supports pre-service teachers from nearby universities. Quiet, calm and poised, Dishman builds up her students and colleagues with positive words and encouragement. She tutors students after school and over the summer and coaches intramural volleyball, basketball and track. During Dishman’s first year of teaching, a shy student asked her to be her 5K “running buddy” for Girls on the Run, a program she embraced and has coached ever since. Dishman encourages students’ emotional and social health and facilitates a “respect circle” each morning to foster community and interpersonal connection. She celebrates students’ successes and helps them work through life’s disappointments—they know no problem or concern is too small to discuss with her.
Dishman earned a bachelor’s in elementary education in 2012 from Washburn University and a master’s in education as a reading specialist in 2018 from Fort Hays State University.
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