Meet Walking Classroom Ambassador Laura Shaffer. Laura teaches fifth grade at Foothills Elementary School in Colorado. She is in her second year using The Walking Classroom. Laura has worked in education for 6 1/2 years, and has taught students in fifth grade for five of those years. In addition, she has also taught first grade and been a math interventionist.
What are your memories of yourself when you were that age?
In fifth grade, I already knew I wanted to be a teacher! The majority of my free time was spent reading and playing school. I loved dogs, the color purple, and my dream car was a limousine.
What led you to become an educator?
As far back as I can remember, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I never really swayed from that. As a child, I adored and admired my teachers. I have always loved being around children. The only jobs I had as a teenager were babysitting and tutoring.
A positive relationship between students and their teacher is truly the most important key to student growth and success. The teacher who sees the brilliance in each child who enters her classroom can challenge and inspire students to see the greatness in themselves and each other. The ability to ignite a fire fueled by confidence and enthusiasm for the learning process makes an incredible educator. It also creates unbelievable learning experiences for children.
What is your favorite content area/topic to teach? Why?
I absolutely love teaching math! There is so much fun to be had. It brings me great joy to get students excited about a subject area that so many children and adults claim to loathe. I struggled in math when I was in school, but incredibly inspiring math teachers along the way helped me find joy, love, and enthusiasm for numbers and problem solving.
What is your favorite podcast or Walking Classroom memory and why?
The day my class and I found out that I was selected to be a Walking Classroom Ambassador, my class decided to do a celebration walk. Any day we walk is special, but on this day, my students decided that they would love to have a free choice day and choose any podcast they wanted for our walk. We each took some time to look over our choices, shared with one another what we were going to hear, and set off on our journey around the school campus.
When we returned from walking, we were all full of excitement to share with others what we had learned and enjoyed most. We played a few games where we partnered up and shared with our friends. How fun and refreshing to hear what each student enjoyed most about the particular topic they chose!
What is your best teaching memory?
This question is so tough to answer because there are so many! Any time my class has come together to do something thoughtful for one another or a member of the community always makes me so proud. One year my class completed Passion Projects. I had a group of young ladies who combined their love of baking and their love of animals to make the world a better place. The girls practiced and practiced the best recipes they could find for cookies, cupcakes, and pies. They hosted bake sales on the weekends and used their profits to sponsor several animals at our local zoo. The joy and enthusiasm they got from this project was truly inspiring!
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
Get to know the sweet, wonderful, amazing kids in your classroom right away. Your relationship with each and every one of them is special and important. The love you have for your students will get you through difficult days and long hours. The joy you get from the time spent with these brilliant young minds will be an incredible gift.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have a four-year-old little boy named Matthew who keeps me on my toes! We enjoy having “pizza and movie nights” together, going for walks, and swimming. I am also a huge sports fan and love cheering for the Denver Broncos during football season and following my favorite college basketball teams to the championship game during the month of March.
Name something you’d like to cross off your bucket list.
While I was born in Hawaii, my family moved away when I was three months old, so I remember none of this beautiful place! I would absolutely LOVE to visit Hawaii again and be old enough to enjoy and remember the experience.