Utah Teacher of the Year — Allison Riddle

2014 Utah Teacher of the Year
Fifth-Grade Teacher 

 Download on iTunes

Segment I – Background and Inspiration  

Tell your story. Where are you from and how long have you been teaching? What classes have you taught?    – Allison is a fifth-grade teacher, a mom and an educational consultant. She has had some interesting adventures as a teacher and consultant. She has been in the classroom for 26 years.  

Who has helped you in your journey to become a master teacher?  – Her principal, Liz Beck, gave her the confidence she needed to balance home and career. Allison does not believe that, without her, she would not have the confidence to keep herself organized. She also benefitted from amazing high school teachers that inspired her.

It is important for other teachers to know that we all have had setbacks in the classroom. Identify an instance in which you struggled as a teacher and explain what you learned from that experience. – Her mishaps usually involve glue and glitter.  One time she admitted to purchasing the wrong flowers for a lab. She asked the students to be flexible and work with her. It ended up being a writing activity later in the day. One thing she will never forget was the look on the students’ faces. But her patience with her students making mistakes allowed her students to be patient with her when she did. 

What is the challenge in teaching on the elementary level?  – Utah is the state with the highest class size and the lowest spending per student. The large numbers in each class correlates to a variety of reading and math levels. Some students are working on an 8th-grade level and some are on a 2nd grade level. 

What is one thing that you love about the classroom?    – Allison loves being the first person to teach a child about the early history of the United States. She loves cooperative learning and working in teams. She also loves the fact that the amount of energy that she brings to the classroom is mirrored  by the energy that her students give back to her.

Segment II —

What book do you recommend to a teacher that wants to develop? 


What is one thing a teacher can do outside the classroom that can pay off inside the classroom? — She takes the question that is in her mind and she puts on her tennis shoes. Running, biking, and walking have all helped her think through the challenges of teaching. Teaching can be very taxing, but there is nothing more important than your health. 

Is there an internet resource that you can recommend which will help teachers grow professionally? — 

Provide a writing practice that is effective?  – One of her biggest mistakes was teaching writing as a subject. Now she teaches it in everything that she does. She also uses smaller opportunities to write to build up to more substantial writing. 

Update the cannon. What books belongs in the 5th grade classroom? 

Her goal is to get kids hooked on series. Some great examples are:


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