Katie Withers: Teaching is always learning
Katie Withers of Banta Elementary stood up in front of her kindergarten class and declared she wanted to be a teacher. As it turns out kindergarten Katie hit the nail on the head, setting in motion a lifetime of learning and teaching.
While some kids would rather be anywhere than at school, Katie Withers had the exact opposite stance. Katie had two older sisters who got to go to school, but Katie wasn’t yet old enough. That didn’t sit well with Katie. “When they got to go to school, as a kid, I was jealous. So, I got my grandmother to play school with me every single day.” Since that day, she had it set in her mind she would be a teacher. “I’ve always just followed that passion,” Katie says. School was an “escape” for her in high school.
Currently working on her admin credential and doctorate, Katie’s ultimate goal is to effect change on an even larger level as a superintendent. She’s “never stopped going to school,” ever since she started. She got her bachelor’s degree, then teaching credential, and then her master’s degree. Believe it or not, Katie was not strong in high school. “I had a lot of learning gaps, but I felt that teachers never really taught to those learning gaps.” Now, she has her master’s in STEM with a math authorization. Her love of learning has inspired her students. “They see that I personally love learning; it’s not just a job for me.”
Katie focuses on developing relationships with her students. If they feel comfortable and safe in the classroom then they aren’t as afraid to make mistakes, Katie believes. She brings real world problems into her mathematics classroom, to show directly how these concepts are, “going to directly impact them in the future.” This is an important element of her goal to shift the onus onto her students to take ownership over their learning and work through their own thought processes.
Katie doesn’t just teach concepts, she teaches the “why” behind them. Her classroom, she feels, is quite different than a traditional classroom. If you walk into Katie Wither’s classroom you’ll find a room where students take charge of their learning and know why concepts work, not just how.