Bob Crongeyer: Sacramento County Teachers of the Year 2013 Interview

Uploaded by sacramentocoe on 17.08.2012

I'm Tim Herrera with the Sacramento County
Office of Education with another Teacher of the Year profile. Right now, we're speaking
with Bob Crongeyer who is the Teacher of the Year from the Robla School District.
Congratulations, Bob. Thank you, Tim.
So tell us a little about yourself. Tell us where you teach, tell us what you teach.
Okay. I teach 3rd-6th grade Gifted And Talented
students at Taylor Street School in the Robla School District.
It's a district program, so I have kids from throughout
the district that are there. And I've been doing that for about 3 years now.
I've taught 1st through 6th grades
in the last 23 years. So, you teach GATE?
I teach GATE, yeah. So tell me what's involved in that.
Well, they teach me, as much as
I try to teach them. But it's
-- they are amazing scholars, so I
do everything I can to just make sure that they are challenged
and are excited about learning
and that they're
achieving as well as they can. Is that a challenge for you?
To be on your toes all the time? It is, yeah. It absolutely is. But it's a
challenge I love. It's rejuvenating.
So is it -- when you're teaching through the GATE program, are you teaching special classes
are you teaching specific classes or is it -- ?
So I teach -- we're a self-contained classroom, so it's an all day GATE program,
I teach everything, except math,
to the 5th and 6th graders. And then there's an
hour and a half block where the 3rd and 4th graders come to me
for English Language Arts and then the 5th and 6th graders go
to the 3rd and 4th grade GATE teacher for math.
Okay, now if I remember correctly, your specialty is writing?
Teaching students writing? Yeah. Well, I am co-director
of the writing project, so up until this
coming year, I've worked in the classroom four days a week.
And then I work at UC Davis
with the Writing Project on that fifth day -- on Friday.
Explain what the Writing Project is because it's very interesting.
I think so. (I think so, too. That's why I asked.) Well, thank you, Tim. The Writing Project is
-- I think it's great because it's teachers teaching teachers.
I mean, that's the basic philosophy. Started in Berkeley
over 30 years ago and
it's -- we have
lots of different ways that we provide professional development for teachers.
We also encourage teacher leadership.
so that we have lots of teachers that are out there helping and supporting
each other in the profession. And we also -- we do some
things where we work with students and families, as well, through
family writing nights or young writers camps. Things like that.
So, what's it like to, you know, find some students
at the young age that you have and know that they have the gift of writing and how you
want to work with them?
You know, it's funny you should ask that because I've been fortunate to work
with a lot of very gifted writers. But I also
have discovered that all of my students, even the ones who
don't particularly enjoy writing, become writers if I
create that environment. So, I'm a strong believer
in making sure that the kids are writing every day, that
we have a writers workshop so that there is choice built in. They can write about what they want
(as well as some guidance from me).
But kids who
maybe before I had this magic
in my toolbelt who might not have become
very prolific writers, or even as competent writers,
excel with this environment. So I would say that all of my students
are great writers.
It's a wonderful thing. And I can say the same thing about
reading and everything else because
there's just so much going on that they excel.
Now how do you express to them the importance of writing as a
communication skill and why they need to really sharpen it?
So, I'm --
colleagues will laugh when they hear me say the "g word"
which is genre -- I'm a strong believer as well in
having my students understand that in any kind of
situation, even what we're doing write now, you have to think about
your audience, you have to think about your purpose, you have to think about the content, what it is
that you want to say, and then you think about
the context (where is it happening) and then that's going to lead to
an appropriate structure. So, with that in mind,
my students, if they're thinking about those things no matter what they're doing,
they will be more
-- they'll be able to express themselves
because they'll understand that, "Hey, this is
not a text message, I need to make this a little more formal." Or
"This is a very informal chat and I can
go ahead and not capitalize and leave out the periods -- as long as my
message is clear."
message is clear." So, I think that that
has been a really powerful way to get my
kids not only to understand the importance of writing
but also reading. Because you can deconstruct text in that way as well
as construct. Do you find that the increase
in students' texting has influenced
their writing skills?
Yes, but not necessarily in
a negative way. I think it's made them more
wanting to communicate through writing
so they're actually writing more, even if it is text messaging.
And because they're so aware of genre,
they know that they have to switch when they're writing
an essay, or they're writing a play, or they're writing a story,
or a report. So, you teach GATE kids, so
they're obviously motivated students, but still do you find that some of those
students are still kind of -- . Well, okay, they're not obviously motivated.
That's the thing. That's the myth.
There are some kids who don't -- they're not just
naturally motivated. So, I think part of what
my job is is to help them to find the hook into what it is
that they're interested in to help them get excited about learning and to become more motivated
Many of them are. It's not that they're
motivated, it's that they're rule followers and they like the
-- like to know what it is that's expected of them and they
are high achievers. They're very bright, hard-working
people. So, they like
seeing what they've been able to produce and are able to do.
But, for some of them, that's not the motivation. That's not enough.
It has to be from somewhere else.
So, just providing lots of opportunities
I have a huge -- now, thank you, Karen --
a huge class library, so there's lots of
different levels of books as well as interests
that are covered. And then I
allow a lot of flexibility in when
students have learned something and they want to demonstrate their knowledge
I don't necessarily hold them to one
way to do that. I have them think about those five things and, okay, how are you going to get me
I'm your audience. How are you going to get me to understand that I know what
it is that you now know?
And so I've had plays
I've had presentations and little movies
Poetry, and all kinds of things that I would have never have
thought to use to demonstrate this knowledge.
Interesting. Yeah, it is! So what made you become a teacher in the first place? What brought you there?
I wanted to be a teacher
from the time I was a little guy.
I just loved the school stuff, you know? I was one of those rule followers.
I was the GATE kid that just liked school.
But, once I became a teacher and I realized
how much more, obviously, complex the whole craft is,
I realized I was in the right profession. And I'm still learning
so many things about what it means to be a teacher.
I'm glad I've come this way.
Well, I know the folks in the Robla School District are glad as well. I hope so.
Well, congratulations to Bob Crongeyer, the Teacher of the Year for 2013 for the Robla School District.
Thanks for talking with us. Thank you, Tim. I appreciate it.