Meet Walking Classroom Ambassador Toni Lehman. Mrs. Lehman just finished her seventh year using The Walking Classroom with fourth grade students at McDougle Elementary in North Carolina. She has been working in education for 37 years!
What are your memories of yourself when you were the age of your students?
I had Ms. Yearling and she was welcoming and warm. I was Ulysses S. Grant in our time capsule biography project!
What led you to become an educator?
When I was young, I loved being outdoors and being in nature. I signed up for opportunities to learn about the out of doors and was a junior counselor at girl scout day camps. I guess I loved it then!
Share your educational philosophy in one to three sentences.
All students deserve an opportunity to find great books, interesting and motivating ideas, and good working relationships in a warm and loving classroom.
What is your favorite content area/topic to teach? Why?
I particularly love science — because it is cool and always intriguing!
How have you incorporated The Walking Classroom into your teaching?
This year it has been impossible since we share sets as a grade level, and we were remote for so long. In a general sense, I look at our grade level pacing guide at the beginning of the year and match The Walking Classroom podcast titles to coincide with content — either right before to build background knowledge, or concurrently to support and reinforce concepts.
How has The Walking Classroom made a difference in your classroom?
I notice in my own life that I think better when I can “walk it out”! I have watched kids and have seen the focus on their faces when they are moving and listening. It is marvelous.
What is your favorite podcast or Walking Classroom memory, and why?
There was a day that I was taking pictures of my class walking, so rather than leading them, I was walking off to the side trying to get some good group shots — in that moment I realized that they knew the routine and they were completely into the podcast. They didn’t even notice me taking photos!
What is your best teaching memory?
I used to do a project that had everyone work together to “build” Washington, DC. The kids would work as “docents” for their own building, after they had researched, written a report, and made a model. When we set up our model city, it was magical!
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
Keep learning! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes — you can model how to respond when you do so, and allow kids that same freedom.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Read, sew, play Candy Crush, and hang out with my COVID cats, Hopper and Maverick.
Name something you’d like to cross off your bucket list.
I’d love to go to Hawaii (and I’m heading there in October!).