2023 Kansas Master Teacher Kristen Anderson
Fifth Grade Teacher
North Fairview Elementary
USD 345 Seaman
Fifth grade teacher Kristen Anderson lives by a motto: “your students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Anderson, who teaches at North Fairview Elementary in the USD 345 Seaman school district, believes that success in the classroom relies on building bonds and setting boundaries early.
“Once that trust and relationship is established and students know that you truly care, the learning falls in place,” she wrote. “In that moment behaviors decrease and student engagement increases.”
Part of Anderson’s teaching philosophy is preparing students for the 21st century. Students should be active participants in the learning process, not solely lectured by their teachers. Teachers should step out of their comfort zones, she wrote. She recalled a social studies lesson that was highly effective in her classroom, taking learning from the textbook and bringing it to life for the students. The lesson centered around the 13 colonies. Each group of students had to come up with a plan to attract colonists to live in their colonial region by hosting a colonial regional fair. Each group created a booth.
“Since many of my students had never been to a fair, they started out by learning what a fair was,” she wrote. “On the day of the fair their classmates, ‘other colonists’ visited the booths. These visitors learned about the region while trying to be persuaded to settle in the area. By putting the knowledge in student hands, they were able to learn from one another.”
This project-based learning module had a vast impact on her students.
“If I would have only used a textbook to learn I would have felt bored and trapped,” one student wrote. “Project Based Learning gives us a chance to research and teach others about it, and then in return they teach us.”
Anderson’s teaching also extends outside the classroom and into the community. She strives to build relationships not only with the students, but families, business owners and community members.
“Without a doubt relationships matter,” she wrote. “When teachers, students and families work together, great things happen.”
A parent of two of Anderson’s former students wrote that Anderson had a far-reaching impact on her students, especially during and after COVID-19.
“Mrs. Anderson was amazing, resilient, patient and understanding as we all navigated the online classroom setting and finished the school year under unprecedented circumstances,” the parent wrote. “She assured the students were supported, engaged and loved during such an unsettling time.”