Hi Everyone! My name is Kelsey Geer and I am the 4th grade teacher at Pelham Elementary. This is my first year teaching in this position. If you’ve been thinking “hmmmm, if she’s new, then why does she look so familiar” it’s probably because you saw me working with all of the students in the Pelham Afterschool Program, student teaching in Ms. Giselle’s classroom, or substituting around the building. While this may be my first year as a 4th grade teacher, it certainly is not my first year at the school. One of my favorite things about Pelham is that the community allows teachers to be creative. When you walk through the halls, no two classrooms will look the same, nor will two classes be working in the same style. The community throughout the school is so uplifting and positive, which has made transitioning into this new position a breeze.
I became a teacher because I feel it’s important to take part in making a community the best it can be. By teaching students important values, how to solve problems, and strategies for working together, I feel confident that they all can be informed, contributing members of society not only while I have them in my classroom, but also for years into the future. By being a teacher, I know that the generations now/ to come will be the best this world has seen and make the world a better place, simply by teaching them how to one class at a time.
When I think about a time in the day that I love the most, my mind goes directly to MATH! Math has always been my favorite subject and I enjoy being able to show students how to break big, complicated, hard problems into manageable pieces. Not only does this help them with math, but it carries over into the real world as well! Math is when I’m able to see the most “light bulbs” go off and that is just the best feeling. During math, we do a lot of partner and group work, so being able to see students collaborate and work as teams is fantastic…another reason why math is the best! Since I am a wiggly and movement oriented individual, I love finding ways to incorporate movement into math (which helps us learn information for “longer and stronger” as we like to say). My goal is to change all of those math pessimists into optimists by the end of the year because every brain is a math brain!
When I’m not at school, I enjoy going on exercising while listening to different podcasts, cooking, baking, making art, and watching any TV show about flipping & renovating houses. I am a huge fan of podcasts and you can catch me listening to one whenever I have the chance. My personal favorite is Armchair Expert, give it a try! I enjoy drawing when I can, which is a hidden talent of mine (not so hidden from the students at Pelham, however). I can also solve a rubix cube in under 2 minutes, which is something I am often forced to do in my out of school time! An ex- student of Pelham taught me how to solve my first rubix cube.
Link to my “About Me” newsletter for my families from the beginning of the year.
About the Classroom:
Around 9 or 10 years old, a child’s brain begins to go through some major developmental shifts. It is the year where students are ready to take on more independence and responsibility for their own learning. This is also the age where students start to compare themselves to others, question their personal identities, and go through many different (often new) emotional changes.
In our 4th grade, we tackle this developmental stage by creating an environment where students feel safe to explore every aspect of their lives with the help of their classmates and teachers. For example, every morning we start our day by forming a circle to discuss one daily question. Through our questions, we discuss friendships, self confidence, bullying, kindness, and many other topics. Starting our day this way helps students ask themselves deeper questions as they begin creating their identities.
Creating a safe, positive, and emotionally intelligent classroom is just one of the many ways our 4th grade is different from others, but another one of my favorite differences is our independence. In our 4th grade, we see that students are ready to take on more independence in daily tasks but also with their learning. From the very first day, we teach students how to be independent in the classroom and make decisions that are suited best for them and their learning. Through creative projects, challenge/choice options in every subject, and lots of group work, our students start having a real say in their educational experience.
My final, favorite thing that makes our 4th grade different from others is that our students get to learn sign language! I am fluent in American Sign Language and I love teaching the language to others. During our morning meeting, we learn one sign every day. This means that at the end of 4th grade, each student has learned 180 words in ASL. We use our sign language to help us communicate throughout the day and as a resource for students who have trouble verbalizing their needs during challenging times.
When I asked my students “what makes 4th grade so special?” they all came up with their own lists that shared many commonalities. The most common things they felt made us special are:
- We get to learn sign language
- We have smart and kind teachers + support teachers
- We get lots of treats
- We have a good learning environment and helpful resources
- It’s super fun (we learn in fun ways and do fun projects)
- It’s hard not to make friends
- We love our morning circle + morning meeting
If you’re interested in learning more about our classroom, you can check out our classroom website! https://msgeers4thgrade.weebly.com/. However, our classroom itself is full of many tips and tricks. We have a classroom “sensory pathway” which we refer to as the pathway. This pathway allows students to use movement to reset their minds and bodies, in a controlled way, in order to get back to their work. This pathway takes less than 1 minute to complete and has been a hit within the room. Students use this when transitioning between subjects, which feeling impatient, when frustrated, and so much more.