Meet Walking Classroom Ambassador Bettina Giese. Mrs. Giese has used The Walking Classroom for about four years, currently using it with third grade students at Soldier Hollow Charter School in Utah. She has been working in education in some capacity for more than 17 years, working as a certified teacher for the past ten years and at a YMCA summer camp for seven years. In addition, Mrs. Giese spent a number of years substitute teaching and volunteering in schools.
What are your memories of yourself when you were the age of your students?
I loved to be outside, playing with my brothers. We had fun in the sandbox, playing with Legos and Matchbox cars, swimming, and reading.
What led you to become an educator?
Caring teachers were wonderful to me growing up! I have a sense about kids who need an extra cheerleader or person to care about them.
Share your educational philosophy in one to three sentences.
Every kid has the potential to learn and improve. Not every kid’s strength is easily discovered. The hard kids need you the most.
What is your favorite content area/topic to teach? Why?
I love all subjects. Math is a special joy since it involves so many real life things. I also enjoy social studies, as I have lived all over the country and love to bring in as many of my experiences with local festivals, history, and food to the classroom.
How have you incorporated The Walking Classroom into your teaching?
We learn about the topics, and the podcasts are used as a follow-up. Sometimes, the podcast introduces the topic; other times, the podcast is off topic and brings extra excitement!
How has The Walking Classroom made a difference in your classroom?
The students learn organization to prepare and exit the classroom and to care for the equipment. They learn how to manage their own podcast listening pace and be patient as others finish. Hearing the kids on the podcast gives them a peer group to relate to. The added teacher voices add depth to what I will or have taught about the topic. Sometimes we vote on the topic, and it is good to learn to contribute to decisions and yet abide by a vote outcome.
What is your favorite podcast or Walking Classroom memory, and why?
My students pick up trash at the same time, or notice insects, or notice spiderwebs, and more outdoor details. They really love the Pony Express (5-#44, Complete-#109) podcast and the Erie Canal (5-#39, STEM-#8, Complete-#104) podcast. We just did “Casey at the Bat” (5-#5, Complete-#29) and “Take Me out to the Ball Game” (5-#6, Complete-#30) to connect to other baseball theme activities I am doing. They sing the song all the time, and they loved being taken along with the poem to figure out what happened!
What is your best teaching memory?
I taught kindergarten. There is joy every day in kindergarten when I find the “ one more way” to explain or teach something that clicks with each student!
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
Don’t look at the entire year. Look at the space in time before you and enjoy it. Don’t try to be veteran teacher yet, time and experience will build who you are.
Find several things that are “you” in your classroom. I don’t mean a theme, but a thing you love or place you visited or a go to song, etc. For example, I use The Piano Guys as a clean up reward, or find an indoor lunch video. Because I love historical trains, I will often use a picture book or use visuals with trains. I use OK GO videos for math and science and homework.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to read. Also, I enjoy making puzzles, and taking walks and hikes. Sometimes, I call older relatives to visit and listen to their conversations. And I like to travel and do things with my family.
Name something you’d like to cross off your bucket list.
I have always wanted to visit all fifty states. I only have three to go — Hawaii, Alaska, and North Dakota!