Ashley Crowder loves switching in between teaching at different grade levels and finding small changes to her routine after more than 13 years as an elementary school teacher.
She has been teaching at Kelly Mill Elementary for the past seven years, starting off teaching kindergarten students before switching to first grade and then eventually to second grade last year.
This was also why, when the pandemic hit and school system leaders scrambled to put together a virtual program for the county’s young students, Crowder immediately volunteered to serve as the school’s only second grade virtual teacher.
School: Kelly Mill Elementary School
Years teaching: 13
“It’s been a new endeavor, but I’m actually really enjoying it,” Crowder said. “I knew somebody had to do it, so I offered to.”
Crowder admits, however, that the drastic change in not being able to have kids inside of her classroom has been difficult, especially after getting into a routine as a hands-on teacher over the past 13 years.
For now, Crowder said that her and her students both are working to make the best out of the situation, and so far, they have loved the experience.
The Forsyth County News’ Teacher of the Month for September 2020 talked about how she has had to change the way that she teaches this year, what she loves about teaching at Kelly Mill and what made her decide she wanted to teach elementary students years ago.
Have you had to make any changes to the way that you usually teach?
“Definitely. I am a hands-on teacher. If you were to walk into my classroom, there would be kids lying on the floor, we would be doing project-based learning, they would be working in groups, some might be on the computer.
“I also have always had flexible seating in my classroom, so every morning when the kids come in, they pick where they want to sit for that day and where they think would best help them. Some are always on the floor and there are bungy seats, so having to totally change gears and not having kids in my classroom has been very different.”
Has it been hard for you to not be able to always see your kids in person this year?
“As a teacher, you love having kids in your classroom, so that’s been quite an adjustment. I went ahead and set my classroom up as if kids were there, and I have my room full of their things like their portraits and their work already. In the hallway, you would never know I was the virtual classroom. Their work is hanging up. So we’re making it work.”
What made you want to go into teaching to start with?
“I love kids. Totally love kids and love being with kids. I love being around kids more than adults, and I feel like you just find your comfort spot. I actually started as a nursing major at the University of North Georgia, and I did it for not even a quarter and was like, ‘this is not for me.’ And I went straight into teaching.”
What has it been like switching grade levels and teaching second grade for this past almost year and a half now?
“It’s been amazing. First of all, I’m at an amazing school. It really does feel like a family, and we call it a family. I just feel like when I need a change or I go to a new grade level, I have a lot of support. I work with an amazing group of ladies this year. Our second-grade team is awesome, and we help each other tremendously. And I love trying new things and just dabbling and becoming familiar with new standards and new expectations for a different grade level.”
Have you and your family gotten into any new TV shows or any new hobbies while you have been at home in quarantine?
“I am a huge HGTV junkie, so if I’m watching TV, it’s typically HGTV. I have been reading and doing puzzles. Typically, I don’t do things like that, but since we’ve been home so much, we’ve been having family puzzle night.”