Meet Walking Classroom Ambassador Dawn Rensel. Dawn teaches fourth grade students at Gables Elementary School in Ohio. She has worked in education for 19 years, teaching fourth and fifth grade. For eight of those years, Dawn taught an inclusion class of 20 gifted and talented students. She has been using The Walking Classroom with her students for four years.
What are your memories of yourself when you were in fourth grade?
I enjoyed working on projects at school the most. I was energetic and played softball, volleyball and spent a lot of time playing with my ten other siblings outside on three acres of land!
What led you to become an educator?
My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Smith, was the reason I became an educator. He had the ability to make learning fun! I remember working on projects in class all the time–creating societies in history, making dioramas, and writing and acting in plays. He made time to really get to know each of his students as a person and not just as a student. He also took the time to reteach me when I did not understand certain concepts.
I believe that all children are born with gifts; it is how we as educators teach, create, plan, initiate, activate, ignite, and implement our ideas and instruction, that allow the kids’ talents to shine through!
What is your favorite content area/topic to teach? Why?
I absolutely love teaching science, social studies, and math! I feel that I can create the most hands-on and engaging lessons within these three content areas! These content areas allow me to plan activities with plenty of “ah-ha” moments from the kids! Kids get excited about learning when they are “doing” and I enjoy the challenge of creating integrated lessons within each of the content areas. When I was younger, I remember social studies as being extremely boring — it just involved so much reading. I could never comprehend events that took place long ago; therefore, I always have some sort of interactive notebook or foldable for my social studies units! I also enjoy incorporating science and math picture books with my lessons. Every kid loves to be read to!
What is your best teaching memory?
My best teaching memory is when my students smile and ask what we are doing the minute they walk in the room! I love watching them grow socially, emotionally, and academically through an entire school year. That growth creates so many memories!
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
I would tell a new teacher that the more actively involved kids are in the learning process, the more they will retain the information. Set high expectations, and communicate well with parents and students.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I enjoy the outdoors by training for half marathons. I also enjoy being outside exploring with my three kids, and spending the summers at the baseball and softball fields, coaching and/or watching my kids play!
Name something you’d like to cross off your bucket list.
I would love to travel out west to the National Parks and see the all that Mother Nature has to offer, and squeeze in a running race if I can!