Minot Education Association teacher of the year Ken Disher is a bit uncomfortable with the title.
"It's nice to represent Central Campus with the award," said Disher, a veteran math teacher at Minot High School-Central Campus and swim coach for Minot High, but he knows there are many teachers in his department who do excellent work and do their best for kids every day.
Disher dedicated his award to all of the teachers in the school district who have been so professional and done such good work with their students even though many of them were trying to rebuild their lives after the devastating flood of 2011.
Andrea Johnson/MDN • Ken Disher was named the Minot Education Association Teacher of the Year last week.
Disher, who is originally from Fargo, began teaching in the Minot Public School District some 37 years ago as his first teaching job. He has spent his entire career with the Minot Public Schools.
Disher said he still learns a lot from his colleagues after all this time, just as they learn from him. Teachers in each department meet a couple of times a week as part of the school district's Professional Learning Communities concept which was implemented a few years ago.
Disher and his fellow teachers go over what lessons are being taught in the classroom and how well kids in each class are picking up on a particular concept. They have a common planning period on a regular basis which gives them the time to meet and share their knowledge.
Disher said he's learned a lot about writing lesson plans and using other strategies in the classroom that help keep his technique different.
"The challenges that change every day is what keep a person fresh," said Disher.
He said he puts in more hours now than he did when he first started out teaching. He makes greater use of technology in the classroom, but said it didn't cut down on the number of hours he puts into teaching. It simply gave him more time to focus on other areas.
This year Disher, who teaches advanced algebra, will be meeting with colleagues at Magic City Campus who teach advanced algebra to 11th and 12th graders. Teaching in two separate buildings means the teachers will make use of technology such as Skype and email for some of those meetings and to cut down on travel time, said Disher. Disher said he usually prefers face-to-face meetings but they will give the technology a try. He is looking forward to talking with colleagues who teach the same subject.
Disher said he enjoys teaching kids of all ability levels. Though he now teaches the kids who are ready for advanced math, he also enjoys helping kids who don't have an easy time grasping math concepts. It is rewarding for him to teach in a way that helps the kids grasp the concepts and start to see that they really can understand math.
The federal government's Common Core standards may change the way that math is taught at Minot High School as it will in other schools across the country, said Disher. Disher said the Common Core standards put a greater emphasis on preparing kids for using math in the world of work instead of focusing mainly on theory.
Minot High teachers will be discussing which standards belong in which math class. It will be a greater challenge for teachers, but Disher said he thinks it will be a good change in the way that math is taught.
Disher was also the head swimming coach for a number of years, but is now the assistant swimming coach, which frees up more of his time.
Disher is unmarried and has no children of his own, which he said has left him with more time to devote to his students. He said he still enjoys working with kids and said he plans to keep teaching for at least another three years.