Sandra Bradshaw, a second-grade teacher in Texas, is in the education field because she wants to positively impact students’ lives.
“When students show a true understanding of the concepts being taught and topics being discussed, then I am thrilled for their discoveries and personal connections,” she said in a recent interview.
As a child, Bradshaw admired the teachers that took time to discuss, explain and double-check that she understood the content. That inspired her to pursue a teaching career. She earned her elementary education degree in 1984, and since that time, has been teaching on and off for 13 years.
“My teaching career has been off and on because I was a stay-at-home mom for our three children for many years,” she said. “My husband’s Air Force commitment meant that our family moved around quite a bit during his 21-year career. Being there full-time for my children when we lived in different parts of the world was important.”
Bradshaw said those breaks in her career probably helped keep her interest and energy level strong over the years because when it was time to return to the classroom, she always wanted “to get back with students.”
Her first year teaching was in 1985 – before the technology used in classrooms today. And that has been a challenge for her.
“[In 1985] I taught for the Department of Defense at Lakenheath ES in Suffolk, England UK. This was an American school with American curriculum and American students (dependents of military and contract workers). We had no computer, no internet, no phones in our rooms, or in our pockets, yet this was a top-notch American school. There was time to teach, interact with students, and carry on with long- and short-term projects,” she explained.
“Now, just keeping up with email can be daunting. The focus on data tracking is also something that did not exist decades ago – at least not at the level it does now,” she added. “There are incredibly wonderful web-based programs available – Studies Weekly being my favorite – but the number of sites that districts and schools want a teacher to examine, consider and use becomes, in my opinion, counter-productive due to the amount of time it takes to look into and accommodate them all.”
Bradshaw is in her fourth year teaching with Studies Weekly’s social studies curriculum, and she loves it.
“I use Texas Studies Weekly because it is easy to bring each issue of a focused topic to life for the students. Each child gets his or her own newspaper, which they love, and then I simply guide and facilitate the week’s topic using the Studies Weekly online component,” she said. “Students love having success with their work, and Studies Weekly lays a good, solid foundation for learning such skills.”
Bradshaw wishes more teachers would teach civics and history through Studies Weekly.
“Sadly, many teachers simply overlook the importance of social studies in a student’s development. Many key topics are overlooked or taught at a lower level, and I do not know why. Studies Weekly makes teaching social studies an easy task because of its quality in content,” she explained.
She also feels that introducing children to nonfiction texts is very important.
“Students that may be struggling with reading skills or are simply ‘late bloomers,’ benefit from the high-interest content in Studies Weekly,” she said.
She had first-hand experience with discovering a love for reading through nonfiction. She described being in third or fourth grade and struggling to read. Her mother gave her a biography of Helen Keller.
“I opened that 64-page book when I climbed on the bus to go home and did not put it down until it was my stop. By then, I had completely finished that book and actually knew what I had read,” she said. “It was an extremely important and memorable moment! That was a first for me, and I am convinced it was because this was a book about a REAL person. To this day, I am a nonfiction reader first and foremost!”
Bradshaw tries to share that passion with her students every day, and in every location she teaches.