You’re never too young to be a leader – that’s what students in a second-grade classroom at Knapp Charter Academy catch onto very early on in the school year.
Jessica Quisenberry, second-grade teacher at Knapp, has honed her skill of teaching her students to be self-sufficient. They learn their routines and take ownership in the classroom on a regular basis.
To grow as leaders, students have classroom jobs, including being the class greeter for visitors. This entails welcoming visitors to the classroom, showing off and offering the opportunity to sign the class’ social contract, answering questions, and telling the visitors it was nice to meet them.
She welcomes the connections her students make between class content and their lives. They also focus on working together to create a learning environment for everyone.
“They take ownership of their learning and the well-being of other students in the classroom, like reminding peers of the expectations or comforting a peer when they are sad or struggling,” said Quisenberry. “I try to give them as much positive feedback as I can when they are making good choices and when they take a risk in their learning, along with positive feedback when they make a mistake.”
Many times, her students imitate what she has done in classroom. “I believe that teacher modeling is the best way to show students how we can respect each other and learn from one another,” she shared.
It's easy to see that her students learn from the way she cares about each of her students, especially when they mirror her. “Great teachers inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning. Miss Quisenberry is that great teacher!” said Kari Huckaby, dean of lower elementary at Knapp. “I asked her students what they have learned from her, and they said, ‘When things are going wrong, turn it around,’ ‘Try your best,’ ‘Don’t give up even when it is hard,’ ‘I can do it,’ and ‘Being kind matters.”
Community is a big part of her classroom culture, and she believes this year’s class is full of students with big hearts.
“They are sad when one of their friends are sad, and they celebrate with those that reach a goal,” said Quisenberry. “I believe our school culture and the amazing Knapp staff that have worked with my students prior to second grade has helped cultivate a love of learning and of each other.”
To encourage her students to make good choices, she utilizes scratch-off cards for when her students go above and beyond, like showing characteristics from their social contract. Each card has a reward on it that students can reveal with a coin, including being Miss Q’s helper for the day, getting extra game time with a friend, eating lunch with a friend, iPad time, or receiving a candy bar.
“Students make goals for themselves to earn a scratch-off card,” said Quisenberry. “If they have a rough day, they use it to make better choices the following day and learn from their mistakes. It also gives them an avenue to cheer on other students as they work toward earning a card.”
Keep up the amazing work, Jessica!