Meet Walking Classroom Ambassador Shirley Johnson. Mrs. Johnson in is her third year using The Walking Classroom with Tillery Spectrum Connections’ summer program in North Carolina. She retired nine years ago after working in education 33 years, having worked the first 17 years as a classroom teacher and the remainder as a curriculum/instructional specialist. Since her retirement, Mrs. Johnson has worked as a volunteer instructor.
What are your memories of yourself when you were the age of your campers?
I was much different from most students today; I was more concerned about pleasing others and very focused on my studies.
What led you to become an educator?
I wanted to do for students of all walks of life more than what I witnessed several educators do for some students when I was in school. Also, I became an educator because I simply love sharing knowledge.
Share your educational philosophy in one to three sentences.
I believe that each child is different as an individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature. Each child has the potential to bring something unique and special to the world. Therefore, it is my desire as an educator to help children reach their potential by providing an environment that is safe, supports risk-taking, and invites a sharing of ideas.
What is your favorite content area/topic to teach? Why?
Communication skills is my favorite content area because reading, writing, speaking and listening are the major components to developing a foundation in learning. Those four elements are necessary to accomplish all other tasks in the field of education and being educated.
What is your favorite podcast or Walking Classroom memory, and why?
All of my experiences working with the podcasts were memorable because students enjoyed them. They did not consider them literacy activities, but fun activities. The discussions we had after listening were my favorite.
What is your best teaching memory?
My best memory was more than twenty years ago when I taught migrant education during summer school. The enthusiasm was outstanding. Eager to engage in the activities, the students they looked forward to going on educational field trips to places they had never been. The delight in their eyes made teaching seem very much worthwhile.
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
I would suggest that new teachers think about the fact that they were children at one time and think about their likes and dislikes, their failures and accomplishments, and why they happen. Then they will be better able to empathize with the students they teach. Most importantly, they should give respect in order to expect and receive respect.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I like to read spiritual reflections written by others and write my own reflections in response to them. I also enjoy volunteering in the community and reading nonfiction.
Name something you’d like to cross off your bucket list.
I have always wanted to take a road trip across country and also visit the Grand Canyon.