Meet Walking Classroom Ambassador Kathie Yonemura. Kathie teaches fourth grade at Hesby Oaks Leadership Charter School in California. She in her second year using The Walking Classroom. Kathie has worked in education for 30 years, and has taught students in first and second grade, as well as college graduate students!
What are your memories of yourself when you were that age?
For a fourth grade project, I remember writing a gold miner’s diary, staining the pages with tea, and burning the edges to make it look old. An avid reader, I read every single Nancy Drew book and was obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder. I also remember having to wear blue cat glasses!
What led you to become an educator?
As a bossy oldest sister, I used to constantly “teach” my two younger sisters throughout our childhood. During college, I worked as a teacher’s assistant at the elementary school on my college campus. It was a research-based school, and I was intrigued and amazed at all the exciting learning taking place. I wanted to teach and motivate children like the teachers with whom I worked.
Share your educational philosophy in one to three sentences.
My goal is to help students discover their strengths, gifts and talents, even if it is outside the traditional curriculum. I help students to become aware of how they individually learn best and help them to set goals, while challenging them to reach their full potential.
What is your favorite content area/topic to teach? Why?
I love teaching reading, writing, math, and especially (California) history, but my favorite topic is Power Speaking. As a child/student, I was petrified to talk in front of others, and it wasn’t until I was an adult and became a teacher and began giving workshops for teachers, that I forced myself to get over my fears by taking self-development classes and practicing giving speeches.
Power Speaking for Kids is a curriculum that teaches students how to effectively speak and present. It’s been so fantastic to see my shyest students (at the beginning of the year) confidently give amazing oral presentations by the end of the year! My English learners have also greatly benefitted from Power Speaking.
What is your favorite podcast or Walking Classroom memory and why?
There are so many wonderful podcasts, but the idioms podcast, especially the Russian idiom, makes us giggle every time: “I’m not hanging noodles on your ears!” My students always have so much fun looking up more unusual idioms after we return to class, and it becomes a challenge to share new idioms as they discover them.
My favorite Walking Classroom memory is when my class had to walk into a district principals’ meeting (on our campus). My principal stopped us (with podcast on and ear buds in) and asked my students to explain what they were doing and what their thoughts were about The Walking Classroom. One of my boys who is not a “traditional learner” exclaimed, “We’re listening to cool stuff and learning, and we get to walk around while we do it. It doesn’t get better than that!”
What is your best teaching memory?
There are too many “best” memories to describe, but my heart was full when a former first grade student sent me an essay she wrote in high school about her hero, her first grade teacher (me). She earned an A+ with a note from the teacher that she should share it with me!
Then quite a few years later, she invited me to her first Open House as a 3rd grade teacher. She introduced me to all her students and parents as her teacher and the reason she was a teacher. It still makes me cry!
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
I always tell new teachers to give themselves grace and to have a life outside of school. I also emphasize the importance of finding a support system; other teachers are happy to help!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m a voracious reader (and can be found most happily reading on the beach), but I’m also a photographer and scrapbooker.
Name something you’d like to cross off your bucket list.
Visiting Iceland and skydiving (both of which my 22-year old daughter has done!) are two. I need to catch up!
So fun reading your responses. You have inspired so many students and teachers.