Project Impact

Kristie Munn

Project Impact

Name: Kristie Munn

School: currently at Central Elementary School; previously at Pleasant View Elementary School

Grade/Subjects Taught: Third Grade - all subjects

Experience: In my 6th year of teaching

College/Degree:

B. S. Virginia Tech Clothing & Textiles: 1986

Master of Arts in Teaching Sweet Briar College: 2013

How do you live “Every Child, Every Day"?

I think the best way to answer this question is to explain why I switched to a teaching career. I began substituting when my son was in elementary school.  During one of my substitute assignments, I  was teaching a class that had been divided into two groups. Some students were having reading, while these kids were with me for math class. I had already worked with the first group and they had mastered the skill presented. When explaining to the second group of students what they to do, they told me they couldn’t do it.  “We’re the “dumb” kids,” they said.  It was as if a lightning bolt hit me.  I realized at that moment these students had been receiving a subliminal message they had internalized.  They had already decided they couldn’t do something and they hadn’t tried yet.  I knew these kids since they were my son’s classmates and was thankful they felt comfortable enough to share their thoughts with me.  At first, I had no idea what to do.  I was flooded with sadness, frustration, and also anger that they thought this about themselves.  I decided I needed to talk to them about this feeling.  I asked them to put their pencils down. I was unsure what words I would share or what difference a talk could make, but I spoke to them from my heart. I explained that they were definitely not the “dumb” kids and that I didn’t really care if they could do the math that day or not.  What I did care about, and what would really matter to them in life, was their attitude about trying math. I wanted to convey that some people have to work a great deal harder than others to accomplish something or to learn a new skill...that we can’t be great at everything.  We all have different strengths and weaknesses.  So, after my “chat” with them, I asked them if they would just “try” and they said yes. They were struggling, but trying different things to solve the problem.  In a few minutes I heard a loud thump in the back of the classroom. A student had hit the desk with his fist and then jumped up and said “I get it! I get it!....who needs help?” At that moment I felt I had made a tiny dent in the mindset of at least one child. This particular student went on to do well on math SOL tests and would proudly report his scores and successes to me whenever we’d run into each other. This moment taught me as much as it taught them. We, as adults and educators, must be very careful in all that we do. Students are internalizing everything based on feedback we give them, grades, groups we place them in, etc. They are receiving messages from us constantly and if they are beginning to believe they are the “dumb” kid who “can’t,” this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  We must believe that every child can achieve success every day because they may not have that belief in themselves. We must point out all successes to them because they might not realize they have made any progress or achieved anything. Tiny successes can add up and if we all work together to make draw attention to them, then one day hopefully the child will believe in their self too.

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