I remember sitting in my very first classroom after my 1st graders had left for the day, marveling that I was doing what I loved and someone was paying me for it! That was 32 years ago, and I still feel that way today. My passion is teaching!
My name is Shari Edwards, and I teach 2nd grade at William Allen White Elementary in Wichita, Kansas. In addition to writing and teaching, my interests are photography and researching my genealogy. The homesteads of my great-grandparents are all within two hours of my house, and I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by family history. I take pleasure in being the mother to three wonderful children and in my newest role, as the grandma to an amazing little boy!
The first 20 years of my teaching career were spent as a primary teacher for the Wichita School District. In 2001, the district asked me to be a part of a new school-based instructional coaching program. Through this program, I received up-to-date, extensive training on best practices, brain research, and cutting-edge technology. Afterwards, there were countless opportunities to communicate what I had learned to my colleagues. I spent my days happily planning and facilitating professional development sessions, having conversations with teachers, and team-teaching in various classrooms, kindergarten to 5th. Coaching challenged me in a way I hadn’t experienced before.
In the spring of 2011, I made the decision to go back (or forward, in my opinion!) to the classroom. I knew the minute I began to plan the year that it was the right decision. I realized how much I had missed having my own classroom. Now I am able to apply the strategies I learned during my coaching years and see the impact it has on my own students’ growth.
If you visit my classroom, you will learn about me just by looking around. I see the school year as a journey, so that is the theme of my room. Placed about are maps, a globe atop a stack of old suitcases, and a trunk that contains whatever regalia I will use to introduce the next unit or concept. It’s important to me that students learn responsibility, build confidence in their own ability to make decisions, and understand the importance of helping others. My students take turns as the “concierge” for the day, sitting at a special desk near the door with the awesome job of providing any help we need. Our classroom teddy bear, Journey, sits on a stool. A world traveler, he spent time in the Philippines and several states last year. We learn many things about the places he visits.
I believe 21st century students should have technology embedded in their learning opportunities. A SMART Board, document camera, several laptops, tablets, and digital still and video cameras await student use. A cookie jar shaped like a brain sits on a shelf to remind me that each day I create the atmosphere my students need for optimal learning.
I started blogging to document my return to the classroom. Journaling helps me reflect on my instructional practices, organize my thoughts, and celebrate our journey through the year. It is a natural way to satisfy my love of writing and to reflect on how we can apply brain research and educational trends to teaching our standards to real children. It was such a happy surprise to find that others were enjoying what I wrote, and I hope you will, too!