New Belfield Elementary 2nd grade teacher Kristin Nelson offers and teaches her students compassion and aims to make learning fun.

"I thought about what different things can I put in certain units I know kids might not be interested in, or what are some other things I can have them do to increase that learning," she said.

Nelson reviewed some of the experiments suggested in the textbook for ideas.

"There was one child that pointed out that this classroom was doing an experiment where they were planting a tree outside, so that made me think to myself that I might have to go get some planters, and we’ll maybe plant some flowers in pots and keep them in our room to watch," she said.

Since they were talking about what a plant needs to grow in class, Nelson had her students watch a Mythbusters episode that aimed to determine the validity of the myth that microwaved water kills plants. (It was false.)

She uses what she's learned about her students to inform her teaching.

"I have a little boy in here who’s obsessed with NASA. His biggest dream is to work at NASA. If he could, he’d work at NASA right now," Nelson said. "One of the pictures (in the textbook) was actually them flying on one of the jets to simulate zero gravity, so I asked him if he knew what that picture was, and he gave a full explanation of what he thought that picture was about. I find it nice to see the kids that have such deep interest like him kind of flex their muscles a little bit with these subjects."

During the first week, she's worked to not only make learning fun, but to build relationships with her students.

"I try to make it known for the kids that I am here for you, I want you to be 100 percent honest with me about your feelings. You don’t need to hide from me. If you have questions, I am always open for you to come talk to me. I try to be silly around the kids so the ones that are really hard opening up at first, I will eventually get them with something," Nelson said.

So far, she said she's seen progress.

"Even through just these past couple of days, I have these kids that will come up and they will give me a hug and they didn’t do that before. I had one just today who came and talked to me about an issue she was having on the playground," Nelson said.

She uses situations in the classroom as teachable moments.

"I had someone calling someone names (when) they weren’t in the room. The ones that were in the room with the person who said it, we had a whole conversation about how that is very rude, that is very mean to the person and that is not something that I would like to see or hear in my room," Nelson said.

She moved to Belfield from her hometown of Valley City, North Dakota. Prior to her move, she worked as a substitute teacher in Casselton.

When she's not teaching, Nelson likes drawing, painting and reading. She also collects toys including anime figures, Beanie Babies and Cherished Teddies — some of which add a personal touch to her classroom.