Elgin teacher a firm believer that fun fosters learning

Teacher of the Month
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CHICAGO — Our Teacher of the Month knows how to play to his audience. He uses humor to lighten the load in his eighth grade math classroom in northwest suburban Elgin, and his students say it’s a proven formula.

What do you get when you add 26 eighth graders, the glow of a fireplace, mood lighting and theme music? The answer? Eighth-grade algebra with Robert Terriquez.

“The students aren’t expecting me to be in the front of the class, serious, strict,” Terriquez said. “We’re going over the problems, and then out of the blue, I’ll start picking someone to come up to the board while the music’s playing, and I’m dancing to the beat and they’re in shock. ‘What’s happening? Did he pick me? Why am I going up, what’s he doing? Did he really just dance?’”

”There’s no teacher like him, and stuff he does really stands out to me,” Aidan Matson, one of the students who nominated Terriquez, said.

His theory: A little fun fosters learning.

“If it’s fun, they’re learning and they don’t know that they’re having fun while learning, and that’s what I want them to feel to do, ‘Ok, we’re having fun, but we’re learning at the same time.’ The most important thing is they feel comfortable, they can ask questions, they know they are to make mistakes, mistakes are expected, they are inspected, they are corrected, and they’re respected,” Terriquez said.

“It makes people want to try harder for him because he puts a lot of attention and support into what he does to make us happy. People think school is just about learning and not having fun, but he makes it fun and learning,” Matson said.

It’s a strategy that inspired Aidan Matson to nominate the Kimball Middle School math instructor for Teacher of the Month.

“He gives me his attention when I need help,” Matson said. “He helps a lot of students get better grades.”

In honor of his achievements in the classroom, Terriquez received $1,000 from award sponsor, attorney Ken Allen.

“It’s really important for us to try to encourage both the students but more imp the teachers because they are really the key to the success of our next generation,” Allen said.

“He deserves it,” Matson said. “He’s the best teacher I’ve had.”

“It’s a mission that I enjoy. I’m here in the classroom because I’m passionate about it, and I enjoy it, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here with them,” Matson said.

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