I remember sitting in my very first classroom after my first graders had left for the day, marveling that I was doing what I loved and someone was paying me for it! That was 36 years ago, and I still feel that way today. My passion is teaching!
My name is Shari Edwards, and I have taught kindergarten through second grade for 24 years in the Wichita school district. After 20 years as a primary teacher, I turned to instructional coaching where I spent my days happily planning and facilitating professional development sessions, having conversations with teachers, and team-teaching. When I later returned to the classroom, I was able to apply the strategies I learned during my coaching years and see the impact it had on my own students’ growth.
I see the school year as a journey, so that has been the theme of my classroom for many years. Placed about are maps, a globe, old suitcases, and a trunk containing whatever real objects 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. Therefore, they each take turns as the “concierge” for the day, sitting at a special desk with the awesome job of providing any help we need. Our classroom teddy bear, Journey, is a world traveler having 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’m now embarking on a new journey that will include collaborating with some great primary, intermediate, and middle school teachers to develop project-based activities for their students. Through this endeavor, I can further develop the integrated activities that I have used with my second graders over the last few years, around my own family history. Through these activities, students explore US history and geography in engaging and relevant ways by building important skills and concepts around a familiar construct. An added bonus of these projects is that students logically use their math, language arts, and tech skills to complete the tasks.
In addition to teaching and writing, my interests are photography and researching my genealogy. The homesteads of my great-grandparents are all within two hours of my Kansas home, and I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by so much family history. I take pleasure in being mom to three wonderful children and grandma to two beautiful grandchildren!
Blogging helps me reflect on my instructional practices, organize my thoughts, and celebrate my journey as an educator. 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 enjoyed reading about my pedagogical pondering and the ideas that sprang from it. I hope you will, too!
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