Meet Ms. ShaTira Waller / STEM Teacher / KIPP DC AIM Academy
Ms. ShaTira Waller is a fifth grade STEM teacher focused on Science and Math at KIPP DC AIM Academy and March’s Teacher Spotlight! After graduating from Mary Baldwin University, Ms. Waller began working for Washington DC’s Literacy Lab, helping kids kindergarten through third grade learn to read. Despite graduating with a degree in history and religion, Ms. Waller found a passion in teaching children new information and being taught by them in return. After teaching third through fifth grade English and social studies for two years, Ms. Waller joined KIPP DC as a lead teacher!
“I love teaching. I love sharing things. I love learning. I love being able to present a random fact to my students, then spend class answering their questions and researching the topic more.”
Ms. Waller originally joined KIPP DC teaching social studies before transitioning to the STEM field after her first year. With the indelible help of her coworkers, Ms. Waller spent a summer participating in intensive professional development to prepare her to teach Science and Math.
“Ms. Guter and Mr. G sent me the previous year’s curriculum to see lesson videos and how they were teaching it. Then once school started, I worked with my school-based coach Mr. Rottman, who sent me videos for each lesson I was teaching – which was so helpful.”
Having spent the summer as a STEM student herself, Ms. Waller intentionally cultivated a classroom environment for students to feel comfortable asking any questions that come to mind as they’re learning. However, she acknowledges that it takes work for students to feel comfortable with their teacher in the virtual environment they’ve been experiencing.
“We’ve been doing this for a year now and I want to continue to keep students engaged, so I’ll take a pause and check-in. I ask students to bring their faces super close to their computer cameras and ask them to tell me what’s going on, what do I need to know. By taking a moment to check-in, the class centers together and we can return to learning with a clearer mind.”
Every Monday Ms. Waller will outline the week’s assignments and encourage students to complete them all on time so they can join Fun Fridays. This is an hour where eligible students come together to play online games that Ms. Waller facilitates. By doing this, the class sets clear goals with an understanding of the rewards to come at the end of the week.
“Teaching has to be fun. My goal is to come to work every day, teach kids, and be taught by them. We’re in this together.”
By cultivating relationships with each of her students, Ms. Waller has been able to ensure her goal continues to be met and children are continuing to make strides in STEM class.