Team Member Spotlight - Crystal Woodin

Team Member Spotlight - Crystal Woodin
Posted on 12/17/2018
Prairie Branch kindergarten teacher with studentCrystal Woodin teaches kindergarten at Prairie Branch Elementary School. This is her eighth year teaching kindergarten and her fifth year in the district. Mrs. Woodin was nominated for the Team Member Spotlight by parents of her current and former students.

I teach because I love to make learning fun and memorable for kids. And as teachers, we have the power to do both. If a child goes home and tells his or her family about something he or she did with you at school, then you won! You impacted them; they learned something new or interesting because of you. I strive for as many “winning” days as possible. I want to foster curiosity and questioning in children. I want to be the one who plants the seeds of life-long learning, and I am hoping to make scientists along the way!

I love working with small children, that is why I have always taught Kindergarten. Sometimes I think we just know as educators which age group fits us best.

I choose to teach in Grain Valley because of the community. It has that “small town” feel where people really care about each other. This community really stands up and for one another in a big way. I see it year after year, and I am so lucky to be a part of it. If someone needs anything, this community gives. We take care of our own and all others who need it. Grain Valley also really appreciates and respects teachers.

As an educator, I am very passionate about giving children the power to have a say in what they learn which is exactly why I utilize project-based learning in our classroom. The project approach honors children as learners. My role shifts from the keeper of knowledge to the facilitator of learning, and that is my favorite spot to be. Through the use of projects, children are able to explore topics of their choosing all while learning to ask and answer their own questions. Project work is a framework for all future learning. It fosters creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, cooperative learning, community support, and parental involvement. During project, work standards are still met with the option of integrated learning, which is how our brains learn best anyway!

I think in today’s schools, children need more opportunities for hands-on, engaging learning. Our focus cannot only be on reading, writing, and math. Many districts are cutting science and social studies all-together, just to get everything else in. Grain Valley is working hard and protecting that time. Some teachers are even fighting for more of it. Also, other teachers are finding more creative ways to meet this need in the community by creating Makerspaces in the school libraries, in computer labs, or as after-school clubs. Children need time to explore, create, plan, tinker, build, and repeat. This type of learning is just as important as all of the other kinds, but it is not given priority.

It is a tremendous honor to have been nominated as the featured teacher by parents. They entrust us with their children; and as a mother myself, I do not take that responsibility lightly. As educators, we promise to love them, teach them, and help them grow - not only as a learner, but as a person. There is no bigger job than that. Parents are, and will always be, the bridge between home and school for our students. So, relationships with parents are just as important as the relationships with their children because we really are all in this together. I have been blessed to work with so many amazing families here in Grain Valley and have enjoyed every opportunity to build relationships with all of them. I love being a part of their child’s story.
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