Teacher of the Year
Helping students develop a growth mindset: Birch Creek Teacher of the Year, Richard Rigby
“One choice does not say who you are,” Richard Rigby tells his students. “But that one choice can help you to grow to who you can be.” Birch Creek Teacher of the Year Richard Rigby understands the challenges his fourth-graders face throughout the year. Learning new subjects, taking tests, and managing emotions can often be daunting and stressful. Rigby has found ways to help his students regulate their emotions while still having fun and learning. Recently, he has implemented weekly meditation in his classroom instruction with the help of the Calm app.
Five years ago, Rigby came up with the idea of meditation after reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey. He wanted to shift his thinking and approach to teaching his students to have a growth mindset, believing that a person can develop strengths and abilities through hard work and growing over time. However, while applying what he had learned, he realized his students had a lot going on around them, making it hard to stay focused.
Rigby explained that taking 10 minutes a day or several times throughout the week helps empower students with methods to calm themselves down. This outlet has allowed students to express themselves in ways they could not verbalize. Additionally, Rigby believes it's important for students to understand that mistakes are part of the learning process. You can always learn from them and use those experiences in the future.
Along with meditation and a growth mindset, Rigby is passionate about greeting his students at the door every morning. He has found that those small interactions first thing in the morning can set the tone for the rest of the day. “If you greet students at the door as much as possible, you can recognize if they are going to have a bad day or if they have a bad day, you can see it in their countenance,” Rigby added. “You can see it in their countenance, but you can also give them a fist bump or a high five,” Rigby said that this allows for students to feel safe and ready to learn.
Rigby was born on a farm in Montpelier, Idaho, and is the oldest of 12 children. He was inspired by his grandfather, a beloved teacher in Montpelier, to pursue a career in education. After attending Ricks’s college, Rigby moved to Logan to attend Utah State University, taking a career choices class that cemented his decision to teach. Rigby has been teaching for 23 years and has worked at Birch Creek since 2010 when the school first opened.