Rebecca Landin-Smith, Allen Elementary first grade teacher

Rebecca Landin-Smith grew up in Detroit, the oldest of three girls. Her mother worked as a teacher and principal while her father worked in business. A graduate of Eastern Michigan University, she completed her graduate studies at the University of Michigan and has been teaching for 24 years. She plans to continue teaching until she retires.

When she isn’t working, Landin-Smith spends her time with her family and works on growing her health coaching business.

She and her husband Thomas of 26 years have two daughters, Sierra and Hailey,  and a grandson, Mason, who is 9 months old. She enjoys traveling and nature photography.

When she isn’t working, Landin-Smith enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, nature photography, and growing her health coaching business, creating healthy habits in weight management, eating and hydration, motion, sleep, a healthy mind, and healthy surroundings. She is on Instagram at @rebecca.healthyhabits.

Allen Elementary Principal Laura Wolf said she’s glad Landin-Smith joined the Allen team this school year.

“She’s a phenomenal teacher,” said Wolf. “Her calm poise and demeanor along with her breadth of knowledge and expertise in education are a wonderful addition to our first grade team. “

After working at Mitchell for six years, you are new to Allen this year. What’s it been like?
After working at Mitchell Elementary for six years and nearing the end of my first year at Allen Elementary, I can say that it has been a pleasure working with the staff of Ann Arbor Public Schools. This school year started off a bit hectic, but is going well! At the beginning of the school year, I was busy getting to know the families, school, and procedures. Now, my grade level team is working well together and I’ve become part of the learning community at Allen Elementary. Everyone has been extremely helpful and welcoming.

When you recall your first year of teaching, what memories stand out?
That was a long time ago! I remember having to create so many materials on my own. I remember coloring, gluing, cutting, and laminating everything. It was so different compared to teaching today. We have access to a tremendous amount of free printable and digital resources at our fingertips.

What advice would you give to a first-year teacher?
I would recommend building community in your learning space and working closely with your grade-level team. I would also say that it is important to find a healthy balance between work and home life. 

Any tips for effective classroom management?
The key to effective classroom management is setting clear expectations—ideally developed with your students—, modeling those expectations, providing feedback, and building a good relationship with your students. Another important piece of effective classroom management is organizing the learning space and materials so that it fosters student independence. My students know that this is our learning space and we work together to achieve our goals in this space. 

What inspired you to become a teacher?
I was inspired to become a teacher by all of the fantastic educators in my life. I wanted to change the world by empowering others. I was also inspired by my mom, Irma Landin-Obregon, and my aunt, Margarita Valdez. I saw my mom work extremely hard to be a fantastic teacher and administrator. She cared so much for the families in our community. I grew up seeing how education can empower people to change their lives and help them achieve their goals. My aunt was the first Latina to be elected to the Detroit Board of Education in the 70s. When I was in school I had some terrific teachers and others that weren’t so great. I was inspired by both to become a teacher because I realized that a teacher could have a positive impact on their students.

In your 24 years of teaching, including seven at AAPS, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned about teaching? About learning?
The most important thing that I have learned about teaching is that in order to teach well you need to be a good student. Meaning you are willing to constantly learn from others. A growth mindset is important to continue to grow as a leader in the field of education. 

What’s the happiest part of your day?
The happiest part of my work day is our class morning meeting. This is the part of the day when we greet each other, share information about ourselves, and have a community-building activity. It’s an important time for us to come together and have positive interactions to start our day.

Favorite websites: 




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How do you keep students engaged?
I keep students engaged by planning lessons that involve a lot of dialogue, student participation and interaction. I provide a variety of materials for students to use. Keeping learning fun is important. I smile and laugh a lot with my students.

How do you show school spirit?
I show school spirit by volunteering and signing up for service opportunities at school. I create attractive spaces to display student work in our first grade hallway. I also participate in school spirit days. Pajama day is my favorite spirit day!

What is the most rewarding part of teaching?
The most rewarding part of teaching is seeing the joy on my students’ faces when they learn to do something independently.

What is a talent you have that few know about? 
I can sew. I learned how to sew from my grandma Ciprianna and my grandma Carmen.

What talent do you wish you had?
I wish that I could play the piano. My grandmother had a beautiful piano in her home. I always wanted to learn how to play it. 

What’s most exciting about your professional life right now? Your personal life?
The most exciting thing about my professional life right now is being part of a new learning community. I’m passionate about helping people improve their lives. I’m excited that my health coaching business is growing. The most exciting thing in my personal life right now is being a grandma for the first time. My grandson was born last June and I couldn’t be happier!

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