Meet Walking Classroom Ambassador Stephanie Moorman. Stephanie teaches fifth grade students at Vintage Math, Science, and Technology Magnet School in California. She has worked in education for 19 years, and has been incorporating The Walking Classroom in her teaching for five years.
(›› Visit Stephanie’s blog!)
What are your memories of yourself when you were in fifth grade?
When I was in fifth grade, I was a play leader at my school. That meant that I got to get out of class a bit early and go help the younger students on the playground, teaching them the games and playing with them. I LOVED doing that! It made me feel good being a sort of mentor to the younger kids. I guess I was a teacher in the making all along!
I think I always was on this path. As a young child, I remember making my little brother and sister sit in my bedroom and pretend to listen to me teach them whatever lesson I came up with for that day (and take any tests I created for them!). Every job I have ever had, even as a teenager, was in some sort of teaching capacity. I was a T.A. in high school and taught dance after school. I worked with high schoolers as a peer tutor in college and just went right into teaching my own class from there.
Share your educational philosophy in one to three sentences.
I believe that all students should be given the opportunity to learn with the highest possible expectations, regardless of where they come from. I know that there are many things that affect how students perform in school, but as an educator, I do my best to make sure that I give each student every possible chance within my control to excel in my classroom.
What is your favorite content area/topic to teach? Why?
I could spend all year teaching history. The stories of the past, and how they are not necessarily as one-sided as we all have come to believe, are endlessly interesting to me, which causes me to throw my all into my instruction. I tell history like a story, with intrigue and excitement, and it reels the kids in. I LOVE when a child who comes into my classroom hating history, and thinking it is boring as all get out, leaves begging to know more about the American Revolution or Westward Expansion or the Explorers.
What is your favorite podcast or Walking Classroom memory and why?
I love the “Who’s on First” podcast. It is just amazing to see the pure joy and laughter pour out of my English Language Learners when they hear the actual Abbott and Costello bit for the first time. They aren’t laughing and reacting because they see others doing it (since they are all at slightly different areas in the podcast and are walking on their own) but because it is truly funny to them, and they get it because of the explanations beforehand in the podcast.
What is your best teaching memory?
During my second year of teaching, I took my students (with whom I had looped from fourth to fifth grade) to San Diego. We had been studying all about dinosaurs that year and went to the Natural History Museum. They just happened to have a traveling dinosaur exhibit with paleontologists there answering questions. My students knew so much about each and every dinosaur that they were answering questions FOR the scientists! It was AMAZING to see, and almost makes me tear up just thinking about it. Afterwards, one of the directors of the museum came up to talk to me about seeing if some of the kids could work in their middle school program the following year (though we were two hours away from home, so it wasn’t feasible, but it was endlessly flattering and humbling that the director noticed just how much they actually knew!).
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
Accept help and advice from others. Know that it is okay if you don’t know it all, and it is okay if you aren’t perfect right out of the gate. It took the rest of us years to look like we even knew slightly what we were doing! You will get there, and the veterans among you are willing to help make that journey easier.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Aside from sleep (which doesn’t happen often with three young children at home!), I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, and watching television. Actually, I could watch TV all day. I really do enjoy it!
Name something you’d like to cross off your bucket list.
I would love to travel around Europe one day. There is just so much history there that I think it would be fascinating to see it all in person!