Teaching the Whole Child with Kristin Ziemke (Apple Distinguished Educator)

 Apple Distinguished Educator, Chicago’s Tech Innovator of the Year  
Elementary Teacher



Segment I – Background and Inspiration  

Tell your story. Where are you from and how long have you been teaching? What classes have you taught?    – This is her 14th year in education. She is currently a first-grade teacher and Technology Integrationist. She has fallen in love with urban education as is passionate about helping all students reach their potential. 

Who has helped you in your journey to become a master teacher?  – Both of her parents are teachers. SHe comes from a teaching family, thus her first courses in education came at the dinner table. She also is thankful for the help that Stephanie Harvey and Smokey Daniels provided over the years.

It is important for other teachers to know that we all have had setbacks in the classroom. Identify an instance in which you struggled as a teacher and explain what you learned from that experience. – Many lessons fell flat, but as she evolved as an educator, Kristin saw those experiences as opportunities. Once she was trying to get her first-grade students to use Edmodo, the wi-fi went down at school. She remembers sweating in that moment, trying to give support to as many students as she could. Instead, she transitioned to annotations on sticky notes.  

What is the challenge in teaching on the elementary level?  – The biggest challenge is that you are teaching the whole child at that moment. It is not about teaching the subject, it is nurturing their academic, social, emotional needs. It is also setting the tone for all future learning. So much time is spent developing a vision of who students are as readers, writers, and thinker. 

What is one thing that you love about the classroom?    – Kristin loves the struggle of meeting the many needs of students. That makes it so rewarding. She also loves developing a community of learners, shifting their mindset, making them realize that there is not just one teacher in the room, there are 34.

Segment II —

What book do you recommend to a teacher that wants to develop?  


What is one thing a teacher can do outside the classroom that can pay off inside the classroom? — Make connections that really matter. Her best advice to any educator is to build a network — develop a personal PLN. Conferences are also a great place to meet people.

Is there an internet resource that you can recommend which will help teachers grow professionally?The internet can be like drinking from a fire hose. There are a number of different blogs that she reads like:

Provide a writing practice that is effective?  – Give them consistent, sustain opportunities to write. Find the chunks of time to make writing meaningful. 

Update the cannon. What books belongs in the 1st grade classroom?