2019 A+ Educator: Kristen Bilotta
Coopertown Elementary School
Her Nominator Says:
“Kristen Bilotta has been with the autistic elementary program from the start and is dedicated to her students. She individualizes the academic and social program for every student and handles with ease in going back and forth between programs all day long. In the two short years our daughter had her, Ms.Bilotta has challenged and pushed her along which has immensely built our daughter’s confidence and readiness for middle school. Kristen Bilotta is well deserving of this recognition!” – The Segrave-Daly Family
Get To Know Kristen
What made you want to be a teacher/educator? When did you decide that was your path?
I have wanted to be a teacher my entire life. I’ve always loved going to school. School was always a place where I felt accepted, happy, and never wanted to leave. So naturally as an adult I’ve made my way back into the classroom. It wasn’t until the end of my undergraduate program that I truly found the joy in special education.
What is your teaching philosophy?
All students can learn, and all students should be given the opportunity with the tools they need to be successful, independent, life long learners. It’s our job as teachers to foster the spark inside them to never stop learning and never stop trying new things.
How do you make your classroom/teaching environment feel welcoming and dynamic?
I’m very open, I can’t do it alone and I welcome everyone into my classroom family. ‘Our Classroom’ is ‘Your Classroom.’
What would you love for the parents of your kids to know?
I’m here for you and I’m fully committed to doing everything in my power to make your child’s educational experience as fulfilling as possible.
How do you encourage reluctant learners?
I really try hard to pair with my students, gaining trust is my number one priority.
How do you resolve problems in the classroom, if a student is disruptive, for example, or if two students aren’t getting along?
Behavior is communication; communication is an expression of wants, needs, desires, and emotions that are rooted in all that we do. When you look at behavior through that lens and treat behavior as “what is this situation communicating?”, your mindset changes.
How can you tell when your material is connecting with your students? How do you measure progress?
Teachable moments happen each and every day, you just need to know where to look, and we should celebrate every ounce of success. Active participation and engagement allow students to demonstrate their understanding of new content and concepts.
Has teaching changed since you started?
Teaching changes every day. There are always new ideas, new research, new methods, and old methods that circle back around. It’s an ever-moving target.
How do you prepare for the first day of school/class?
I get the first day jitters; I try to sleep, but sleep never quite happens. I normally welcome the beginning of the school year with open arms, all of the excitement is infectious.
What has been the most rewarding thing about teaching?
I love the relationships you can build with students and families. The best part of the job is the impression we make, the sense of belonging we can instill, and the energy we can create.