Teacher Feature Blog Series – Joy Billeaud

We all remember a teacher who inspired us. An individual who has always believed in us, supported us through challenges, sparked our passion for a topic, or inspired us to keep going when we were discouraged. For me, I was fortunate enough to have many teachers who shaped my academic career and passion for education. In addition to being teachers, these individuals served as mentors, nurses, counselors, parents, friends, and ultimately, role models.

Teacher Feature, a new blog series by The School Planner Company, will highlight educators from all over the country. These teachers and education entrepreneurs make an impact in and outside of the classroom sharing valuable knowledge with students and fellow teachers through influential sites and blogs. We are excited to launch the Teacher Feature blog series and bring awareness to how much teachers do each day, the relationships they foster with their students, and ultimately, how we as a community can best support them. Look forward to new teacher features regularly!

If you know an amazing educator who you think we should feature, please let us know by emailing bmctigue@mimeo.com.

Joy Billeaud, The Teacher Down the Hall

Why did you become a teacher?

I began teaching when I was eight years old. Really! 

I was so enthralled with everything I was learning from my third grade teacher, Mrs. Murphy, that as soon as I got home from school each day I set up class in my  own bedroom. My three year old brother was so glad to have someone to ‘play’ with that he was always a willing participant. Each afternoon I taught him  everything I had just learned at school. When he was five and began elementary school, he could read, write, add, subtract, and was working on his multiplication facts. His kindergarten teacher wasn’t quite sure what to do with him! My professional teaching career began years later, and I can only hope that I instill as much enthusiasm for learning as Mrs. Murphy did for me!


What do you hope your students take away from your classroom?

Learning is fun! I so enjoyed learning from Mrs. Murphy, my third grade teacher, that I didn’t want to quit just because the school day was over. The most  important thing that I want my students to learn from me is that learning is fun and it is never ending. It doesn’t have to be early on a weekday morning, and you  don’t have to be seated in a school classroom to learn. Be inquisitive about the world around you. Learn everything you can about how it works, and learn all that you can do to make it a better place for yourself and all who come after you.

What is one fun way you have motivated your students?

My elementary school is a Title 1 school in Texas. Because many of my  students don’t have academic support from their home environments, my administration does not support the practice of assigning homework. At the same time, my students are typically behind the average fourth grade levels and need all of the extra practice they can get. Therefore, I assign optional math homework each day. I know what you’re thinking, “optional homework means no one is going to do it,” but my students love their homework and won’t let me forget to pass it out right before dismissal. Every day, I give them a riddle to solve. It can only be solved by answering 8-10 math review problems, so my students can’t wait to get those math problems completed so they can answer the riddle. The next morning as my students enter the room, I ask the riddle again. Those who completed the assignment correctly can’t wait to shout out the answer.  

*How do you get students to complete extra math practice?  WORKSHEETS WITH RIDDLES!

Why do you feel paper planners are beneficial to students?

Fourth graders love planners! Our morning routine includes copying down a list of the day’s tasks into our individual planners. Like the Marines who must make their beds every morning, my students feel ready to embark on their day after completing this small, simple task. Then as we go through our day, students will cross off completed tasks. Nothing gives a ten year old more pleasure than a list of assignments marked off as ‘conquered.’

What is the value of students writing by hand versus digital only?

I am currently teaching fourth grade in Texas. Every spring in my great state, fourth graders take an end of year writing assessment. To prepare for this test, we spend an enormous amount of time writing in several different modes. We write to entertain, to explain, to compare and contrast, and to persuade. Nothing makes my students more proud of themselves than a completed and polished essay turned in in their own nice, neat handwriting. Occasionally for a specific  assignment, they’ll type their essays on laptops. I don’t believe typing the essay and submitting it online gives them nearly the same amount of satisfaction as bringing me a handwritten copy of their own work. I hope that submitting end of year tests in written form will always remain an option – especially for our younger students. 

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Joy Billeaud

The Teacher Down the Hall

When I began my teaching career as a basketball and volleyball coach, I could have never imagined that I would spend most of my professional career in an elementary classroom. , but the lessons I learned as a high school coach have definitely benefitted both me and my students. While coaching I was always well aware that my athletes couldn’t just watch me perform a new skill and then perform that skill perfectly themselves. Hundreds, if not thousands, of repetitions are absolutely necessary to take a newly learned skill to mastery; academic skills are no different. My fourth graders need hundreds, if not thousands, of repetitions, but math and language arts skills may not be as exciting to practice as shooting a three-pointer. I knew I had to find a way to make my classroom repetitious work more fun. So, I began creating fun classroom activities – Bingo games, digital activities, worksheets with riddles, and holiday mysteries that included our learning standards. Kids love playing, and through ‘play’ they will complete those hundreds, if not thousands, of repetitions necessary in order to master anything I throw at them! My favorite question from students is: “Can we do this again tomorrow?”

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