This week’s guest is a direct challenge to how many of us are living our education lives in 2023. Believing is hard. Optimism is something we can switch on with students, when we need to maintain our authority in the classroom, but we struggle to live in optimism. Look, we get it. Teachers are entering yet another school year of unrealistic pressure, political attacks, and dwindling capacity to teach our students and live joyfully.
Rebecka Peterson has an idea for all of us.
Rebecka Peterson, the 2023 National Teacher of the Year, is a math teacher who loves stories.
Rebecka has taught high school math classes ranging from intermediate algebra to Advanced Placement calculus, for 11 years at Union High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Amid a difficult first year of high school teaching, she found the “One Good Thing” blog. She credits daily posting there to helping her recognize the beautiful and positive experiences occurring in her classroom, which inspired her to stay in the profession. She has since contributed 1,400 posts to the blog. As Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, she has visited teachers across the state to highlight their important work through the Teachers of Oklahoma campaign.
As National Teacher of the Year, Rebecka plans to use her platform to highlight teachers’ stories of the good that’s happening in education. Teaching is a profession that affords creativity, autonomy and purpose, and Rebecka believes that highlighting the stories of joy happening in classrooms across the country will help encourage current teachers and attract new educators to the profession.
Rebecka is a proud immigrant of Swedish-Iranian descent and lived in several countries around the world as her parents traveled as medical missionaries. Her own experience with supportive teachers who celebrated her diversity and math abilities informs Rebecka’s efforts to create a supportive and accessible classroom for students. She values listening to students’ stories as a way to better understand them and elevate their voice.
Before joining the faculty at Union High School, Rebecka taught for three years at the collegiate level. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oklahoma Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of South Dakota. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband, Brett, and son, Jonas, and she enjoys reading, crafting and playing board games.
Check out Rebecka’s contributions to the One Good Thing blog!
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