Teacher of the Month Christy Henning

How long have you been teaching, and how did you get started?

I have been teaching for 39 years and still love it. As a high school student, I planned to pursue a degree in medicine; however, I had the opportunity to work as a teacher’s assistant for an elective one year. I became hooked on working with children!

What age, subject, or specialty do you teach?

Currently, I am teaching transitional kindergarten. During my tenure, I have taught both general and special education from TK to Middle School!

What are some of the traditional (non-digital) resources you use with learners?

Like every teacher, I use books, worksheets, and very traditional resources; however, I also love using games and simulations to teach.  

How did you first discover Boom Cards?

When schools first shut down, I was investigating everything I could to make online learning meaningful for very young learners. I overheard some teachers from another school talking about Boom Cards and knew I needed to find out more.

Christy loves getting students excited about themed activities.

How did your students react to Boom Cards?

My students loved the decks immediately because they were just playing!

What about you? What’s your favorite tool or feature?

There are many things I love about Boom Cards. With young students, I always select decks with sounds, so they don’t need an adult to help with directions. As a teacher, I like being able to assign specific decks to individual students. 

I taught Special Ed Summer School during the pandemic. Trying to maintain focus with students with disabilities and short attention spans was excruciating on Zoom! Fortunately, assigning Boom Cards allowed me to provide prescriptive learning opportunities and enabled me to see individual progress.

Do you have any favorite Boom Card publishers?

A few of my favorite creators are Della Larsen’s Class, Mrs. Jones Creation Station, The Primary Brain, and Kindergarten Rocks!

Do you ever combine Boom Cards with other in-person learning activities?

There are times I use a deck to introduce a skill or concept. Last week I used a deck by Prince Padania to introduce the sight word “was.” It was perfect since we were also doing Pirate Week and the activity featured a pirate theme. When I asked the class if they would like me to link the deck to the game room of our virtual class, they all cheered!

Students get assignments through a virtual game room.

Do you have a favorite free Boom Card deck?

One of the first freebies I discovered was the Halloween Flashlight Numbers Game by Speechie Witchie. It was a fun way to practice numeral recognition and just spooky enough for TK.

Do you make your own Boom Cards?

I haven’t made my own Boom Decks yet. I’d love to try just for fun sometime, but with so many excellent authors available, I haven’t been too motivated yet.

What kind of progress have you seen from learners who have played with Boom Cards?

I have been able to see growth and can tell specifically which items were more difficult for students. I use the reports to see individual progress as well as class trends, and I can see how quickly the students respond. This lets me know whether they are moving toward automaticity.

Have the reports ever surprised you and shown different results than you were expecting?

When I was teaching Summer School special education some of the students already had skills I didn’t expect. Seeing the reports allowed me to adjust my instruction to address their needs.

What do you wish more people knew about Boom Cards?

You don’t have to be a “techie” to use Boom cards. It is easy to select and assign decks.

What advice would you give to someone who is new to teaching?

Always look for ways to work smarter, not harder. Never be afraid to ask for help.

What advice would you give to a teacher who is about to retire?

Old dogs can learn new tricks! I have been teaching almost 40 years and I am still learning and growing as an educator.

What advice would you give to yourself if you could send a message back to 2019?

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate! I am so grateful that I worked with a strong team during that difficult season of life.

What advice would you give to parents who feel like their children are struggling because of remote learning during the pandemic?

Ask for help! I was able to do family sessions to help grandmothers and other caregivers know how to use new technology that was suddenly dropped in their lap. My team and I made instructional videos for parents as well as for our students to help them be successful.

What are you most looking forward to about teaching next year?

I am hoping to teach kindergarten. I look forward to having some of my same students for a second year.

Do you have any words of encouragement for other educators who are having a tough time right now?

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, never be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t get support from your team or administrator, look online. I found so much help, encouragement, and tips from bloggers, Facebook groups, and professional organizations. Find your tribe, even if it has to be in the virtual world!

If you want to be featured as a teacher of the month, email BoomLove@boomlearning.com.