Posted in: Aha! Blog > Wit & Wisdom Blog > Professional Development > Meet the Wit & Wisdom Fellows: Korneeka James
Master Teacher and Instructional Coach Korneeka James has been a teacher for 16 years and a Wit & Wisdom® user for the past three, and she enjoys educating other educators. As a Wit & Wisdom Fellow, she found it highly rewarding to be “able to stand before groups of educators all across the United States of America and let them know that their school district has chosen a curriculum that will put books back into the hands of their students.” Read on to learn more about her teaching career, her experiences as a Fellow, and her advice for educators interested in applying for the program.
You’ve been an educator for over 16 years. What inspired you to pursue a career in education, and what keeps you motivated to continue teaching?
Dr. Ramona Patterson, my junior college professor at South Louisiana Community College, inspired me to pursue a career in education. When I was enrolled in the course “Language & Literacy in Early Childhood,” Dr. Patterson emphasized the importance of educators helping young children develop a rich vocabulary, self-expression, and reading comprehension. During this course I became intrigued by the growth and development of young children as readers. The learning from this course influenced my motivation as an educator to continue teaching to develop proficient young readers.
What initially drew you to the Wit & Wisdom Fellowship Program?
I became drawn to the program after completing the Wit & Wisdom ELA Content Leader Program for the state of Louisiana. Through the Content Leader Program, I was able to gain a wealth of knowledge that transferred into my first-grade classroom. The transference of knowledge helped me address my struggle with writing instruction. Through the Focusing Question Task assessment, I learned how to effectively analyze student work according to the task success criteria, and then provide writing support around the “Next Steps” that were provided in the Wit & Wisdom lesson. This knowledge gave me the courage as a Wit & Wisdom educator to apply for the Fellowship Program.
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience using Wit & Wisdom in the classroom?
I have used Wit & Wisdom in a Kindergarten and first-grade classroom for a total of three years. I now support and coach K–2 teachers with using Wit & Wisdom in their classrooms.
When I first used this curriculum as a Kindergarten teacher, I was completely lost. All I knew was that my district required me to teach the curriculum with fidelity. I knew I had to read the books to my students and post anchor charts all around my classroom. As I taught the curriculum, I learned more about its design, deepening my knowledge of the content and craft stages and the assessments. That led me to effectively tailoring the curriculum to meet the learning needs of my students. As I took the time to learn the design, the content and craft stages, and assessments, my Wit & Wisdom instruction improved and my students grew more interested and engaged in the texts, assessments, Socratic Seminars, Gallery Walks, and more.
What advice would you share with someone who is interested in applying for the Fellowship Program?
My advice to someone who is interested in applying for the Fellowship Program is “you should.” You should share your knowledge and expertise with future Wit & Wisdom educators that will help young children to develop a rich vocabulary, self-expression, and reading comprehension through Wit & Wisdom core and supplementary texts. I think you should apply. You will help create future proficient readers across the USA.
Learn more about the Wit & Wisdom Fellowship Program and apply to join this passionate community of educators.
Korneeka James is a resilient educator who promotes social learning teaching, instructional coaching and professional development. Korneeka is a Master Teacher/Instructional Coach at Pesson Elementary School in New Iberia, LA. She also serves as a national Fellow and professional development facilitator for Great Minds, where she and a team of educators train teachers on research-based practices that support student success. Prior to joining the leadership team at Pesson, Korneeka was a first-grade teacher and ELA/Wit & Wisdom Content Leader with Iberia Parish School District.
Topics: Professional Development