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Baggett educator uses unconventional methods to teach fifth-graders
by Savannah Weeks
May 17, 2012 11:41 AM | 1862 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Staff / Lindsay Fendt
Paulding County Teacher of the Year Erin Schmidt laughs with student Jalen Everett, 11, son of Shannon Everett.
Staff / Lindsay Fendt Paulding County Teacher of the Year Erin Schmidt laughs with student Jalen Everett, 11, son of Shannon Everett.
Erin Schmidt, a fifth-grade teacher at Baggett Elementary, describes herself as “totally not the normal teacher.”

As her students were writing the “ABCs of fifth grade,” an advice piece Schmidt will give to upcoming students, Schmidt joked with her current fifth-graders and calmly disciplined the more rambunctious 10- and 11-year-olds.

One student, Darius, wrote “Darius is a legend” for the letter D in the assignment.

“A legend in his own mind,” teased Schmidt.

“Oh, burn,” joked another student to Darius and the teacher.

Schmidt said she and her students interact on more of an adult level than most fifth-grade teachers and students do.

“We just have a relationship where all we do is joke with each other all the time,” she said. “They’re very mature.”

Schmidt recalled she tried to give up coffee earlier in the year.

“They were like, ‘No, you just need to give it up. Go get a cup of coffee,’” she said.

In one of the “ABCs of fifth grade,” a student wrote, “Beware of Mrs. Schmidt without coffee,” for the letter B.

This fun-loving and relatable attitude comes across in Schmidt’s teaching, as well.

Schmidt uses real-life documents and diaries, novels and other interactive tools to teach social studies.

“My kids have hardly even opened their social studies books,” she said. “The only time they open it is if they need a definition or spelling of something.”

It is clear from their responses in the assignment that her students think just as highly of her as the administrators who honored the Rochester, N.Y., native.

She has been teaching for six years — all at Baggett Elementary.

“A: Abe Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in 1865,” wrote one student.

Another wrote about the post-World War II baby boom for the letter B.

“I gave the kids a survey at the beginning of the year asking if they liked social studies, and a lot of them said, ‘no,’” Schmidt said. “They just retook the survey, and they all said they like social studies now.”

Schmidt said she always knew she wanted to be a teacher and said her favorite part of the job is just being around her students.

“They’re so much fun. They provide so much laughter.”

Her students seem to agree.

One student’s letter “I” for the ABCs assignment pretty much summed up the atmosphere in the classroom: “In Mrs. Schmidt’s class, it is fun.”

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