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Deedee Wills - Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

Teachers Who Have Made an Impact in Our Lives

Deedee and Adam chat about teachers that had an impact on them.

They share heartfelt stories about the teachers who left a lasting impact on our lives. Join us as we delve into the inspiring world of education, reminiscing about the dedicated individuals who shaped our early years.

We’ll explore the profound influence these teachers had on our journeys, discussing the teaching methods that made learning engaging and unforgettable. From innovative activities to memorable classroom moments, we’ll paint a vivid picture of the educators who made a difference.

Get ready for a conversation filled with anecdotes, laughter, and a genuine appreciation for those unsung heroes in education. Tune in to discover how the passion of these teachers ignited a spark within us, shaping the way we view learning and the impact it can have on young minds.

This podcast episode is not just a trip down memory lane, but a celebration of the incredible educators who dedicate their lives to shaping the future. Join Deedee and Adam as we pay tribute to those special teachers who go above and beyond to make a lasting impact on the lives of their students.


About the Podcast

The Classroom Collaborative Podcast is a show about teaching, classroom, and education. We tackle new classroom tips and tricks in every episode.

About Your Hosts

Deedee Wills is an early childhood educator, instructional coach, and international educational consultant. She is also the author of the award-winning blog, Mrs. Wills Kindergarten.

Adam Peterson is a kindergarten teacher, nationally recognized speaker, and educational consultant. He also the creator of the popular YouTube channel,

I hope you enjoyed this episode! See you on the next one!

Deedee & Adam

Teachers Who Make an Impact


All right everyone, Welcome back to the Classroom Collaborative Podcast with me, Adam Peterson, and my my amazing Co host and awesome friend DD Wills.


How are?





How are you?

We’re so excited to be back.

Last episode if you joined us we were blast talking with Shannon Olson and if you have not checked out her books or that episode, go back and check those out.

And Dee Dee, you brought up the the talking with her reminded you of of teachers and teaching, and your idea for what we’re going to talk about today is is a really good one.


And you know, I’ve slept since then, so I don’t remember why we started talking about that when we were talking to her.

But what really, really stuck it in my mind was a couple of things.

One, you know, often times, you know, we, we tend to look at things on social media about the way teachers need to be in order to be engaging for their students.


And we see a lot of teachers.

And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, you know, you know, dancing fancy handshakes, being up on desks.

Although I would kill myself if I did that.

But you know, very kind of out and loud, right or out and very physically moving about the room and being kind of either loud in their movements or loud in their in their actions.


And and I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that if that feels authentic to you.

But not everybody lives their life that way.

I I’m not a I’m I’m very animated.

I talk really fast, you know, I I contextualize, I do all of that thing.


But if you see me on a, if you see me on a desk, it’s because the fire alarm is going off and I’m trying to get it to stop, right?

So if you or I’m trying to change the light bulb.

Mouse on the floor.

Yeah, or or, yeah, something crawling.

So those are things that just are not authentic to me as a presenter.


Also, that’s something that you know if you’re if you’re starting to present, you want to make sure that you are you, you want to be engaging, but you want to make sure that you’re you because you are amazing for who you are.


That that’s some of the the best compliments I’ve ever gotten as a presenter is people come they say thank you for being real.


Like what I see out of you is something I can go do tomorrow in my classroom, you know?

And I I that’s one of my my most humbling compliments I’ve ever gotten.

My favorite compliments is because that’s that’s what I want teachers to feel like is It’s something.


I mean that the point of them coming to see us is that they’re getting ideas that they can take back to their classroom and put into effect right away.


You know, I’m an I’m a extrovert, an introvert extrovert.

So like, when I need to be an extrovert, I can be an extrovert, but with the way I refuel is by being an introvert.


But I was.

Sitting When you’re sitting in an airport, you’re a total introvert.

Don’t even.

Talk to me, Adam.

Don’t even talk to me.

So, but if you’re if you’re in your classroom and you’re being somebody that you’re not, it’s exhausting.

You know it’s hard enough to be there.


But if you’re trying to be something that you are not, I’m not saying trying something new because we all need to try things that are new.

I’m saying trying to if you’re trying to change your personality, right, like you can’t do it.

You know you are.

You are either a soft spoken person or you’re not.

You know, you’re either, you know, somebody who enjoys dancing with their students or you’re somebody who feels like, you know, that that’s not authentic to you.


I guess what I’m trying to say is be who you are in the classroom.

And I gave the example in Shannon’s episode that we talked to you about Miss Majeski, who I taught.

She was downstairs from my classroom, and she had this classroom, like, you know how you see that?


You see those kids on the playground and you’re like, thank you, you’re not in my class.

Do you happen those kids?

I mean, but you’re like, you’re exhausting just to watch on the playground.

I can’t imagine, you know, So, you know, there’s some of those kids and she had a class full of them one year and and yet she would talk to them in such a way that they were just eating out of her hand.


And she was very soft spoken.

Of course, she was very kind, but she was very soft spoken.

You never heard her voice.

I’m sure she heard my voice.

You never, you know, I heard people from down the hall.

You know, she just was authentic to herself.

And yet, you know, there were other teachers who were, you know, outgoing and, you know, joking and all of that stuff as well.


And they’re effective.

I guess it’s just find out who you are and be that person.

Don’t let social media tell you what an effective teacher.

Looks like that’s what I was going to say is is these devices have, I mean it’s such a such a comparison game, right?


Like, yeah.

It’s not healthy.

It is.

And I’m I’m and I’m not going to lie, I’m on social media too, way more than I should be.

I do love to share ideas because I think it is a great platform for people to gain ideas.

But there’s so much out there that without saying it in black and white is saying this is what you should be doing.


You know what I mean?

Or like that this is the right way to do it.

And this is and that’s why I I pride myself on every single time I get up and speak in front of people.

One of the first things I say is I am in no way an expert.

I am here to share ideas with you.

I am not trying.

To tell you, Adam, you’re an expert on you and I’m an expert on me.


There you go.

That’s right.

And so don’t let anybody else tell.

You you know, I just, I don’t know.

I don’t ever want to be the person that’s saying that this is how it should be done, You know, because there’s going to be 30 other ways pointing in a different direction, right.

I actually, this is kind of funny and I’m not going to say where I got the idea from because I don’t want other people to to try to take my spot.


But when I was in, I was in Cleveland the other day and I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook on while I was in my hotel room, you know, when I should have been doing something else.

Well, I did go work out at the hotel.

That was a that was a first in a long time.

But I saw this contest from this company that they’re paying 10 people $10,000 to lock up their smartphone for one month.


And you had to sign up.

You had to submit a 100 to 500 word essay, tell why.

Like you’re why you think you need that.

So I did.

I mean, I totally I I I need it.

I need to I need it.

So if you get selected, but I don’t know I’m going to get selected, I’m probably not.


But if I get selected they send you like a a lock box that’s like password coded.

They send you a flip phone so that you can still make phone calls and a one month prepaid SIM card so you can still like stay in contact with people but you.

Can’t use your?


Smartphone can’t use your smartphone for one month you.


What my daughter Olivia was like, You really think you do that, Dad?

That’s kind of like your job.

And I’m like Olivia, I have two computers in my house I could use for computers.


If I can’t do it for those, you know, one of the one of the things, OK, we’re going to get to the point of this.


We are.

We are going to get to the.

Where it’s going to hang in there, people.

But one of the things that happened to me in October is my Facebook account guy, right?

And so I couldn’t get on Facebook for a bit.

You know, somebody in in Russia was my account.


I don’t know, but I couldn’t get on my Facebook account.

And then when I finally was able to get on, I never put it back on my phone.

And that’s smart.

It makes me a little less accessible on Facebook, but it also helps me because often times there’s a lot of mindless scrolling happening.




Not work.

It’s mindless scrolling.

So if I don’t answer you right away, it’s because I don’t have you on my phone.

OK, but the point of this episode?


Was that went from the point to social media.

Now we’re back.

Is is to be authentic you?

So I wanted to give a couple of examples of teachers I already gave Misses Majeski, who I love.


I know you’ve talked about honor, who you loved that you worked with.

But I wanted to talk about growing up a few teachers that I remember who were very different.

Two of them were very effective in grade school and one of them I swear I need therapy for being in her classroom.


The first teacher that I remember, I mean I remember Mrs. Fox in kindergarten because she wore go go boots and she had like Cher hair and I totally wanted to be her but that she that was all superficial.

But when I got into it was second grade, I had Mrs., Hess and missus.


Hess was the year before she was getting ready to retire.

You guys, this is a million years ago.

I can’t.

Remember you talking about Missus Hess.

Missus Hess was like amazing.

She rolled in the cart, you know, the cart with the TV and she said it was when Nixon resigned.


So that’s how old I am.


So that’s why Rick and she said, you know, this is something that you’ll remember and I feel like you guys need to watch this.

So that was one.

The other thing is that she put fossils on our desks.

We had fossils that rotated every, every week.

And then she had a bunch of cats in her classroom.



Like real cats.

Like, not for real cats.

She, like, fostered them.

We had like, I don’t know how many cats.

Like real cats wandering around the classroom.

They don’t like kittens.

She would adopt.

I don’t know.

There were a bunch of cats.

I mean, I remember there was no less than five cats in that classroom at any given time.

But what I will tell you is that she was the most gentle, kind just caring person and and I feel like you know she she was always that person wasn’t loud, wasn’t there was nothing fancy about Missus Hess other than her cats and the fossils.


But she made each of us feel present, treasured and and important.

Following that up with Missus leopard.

Missus leopard, 3rd grade teacher scarred me.

She was.


Also a year away, She’s not going to hear this right?

No, I I mean, unless.

Unless she truly was a witch and is living forever.

OK, I was like, we’re not.

Just so you all know, we’re not dropping like names and addresses in the show notes here.

I mean, hopefully this isn’t a but she was a year.


It was just her final year.

Lucky me, she didn’t start the school year off because she had had a big cardiac event and was hospitalized.

But when she came back, she was telling us that she had died on the table and that she was dead for a while.


And you?

Were in 3rd grade.

I’m in 3rd grade.

And she went towards the light and then she came back from the light.

So she told us this story in in not a good message kind of way.

It wasn’t like, you know, I’m so glad to be back here.


It was like, yeah, now I’m here with you guys, right?

Kind of one of those things, what the hell?

Like I was almost there and God almighty, I came back and now I’m stuck with you guys.

So she told us that story.

The other story she told me that was a little scarring was she told us about Egyptian.


I don’t even know why she told me, sorry, I don’t know why we’re talking about pyramids.

I know about pyramids and that how like all of the slaves were buried alive with the Pharaohs and and the kings And I was like, well, you know, I’m like and the whole time I’m like, this is terrifying.


This is third grade.

So this was so I’m like, wait a minute.

What do you mean buried alive?

No, they were encapsulated inside the.

So anyhow, yeah, that was amazing, those things.

That you remember.

And she was not.

She had no problem publicly humiliating me.


I was third grade.

Dee Dee was very overweight, very shy.

I’m not going to cry about right now, but I feel like crying.

I mean myself esteem was very low and to be humiliated on a regular basis for various things.


You know, she, she like her name Leopard was perfect.

She came out like a freaking like predator.

So when you would ask her a question she would turn around and ask the whole class.

You know Dee Dee doesn’t know blah blah blah and and anybody.


And then she says I can’t believe you don’t And she would say, look I can’t believe you don’t know this.

Think about it Dee Dee, you know, and you’re standing there and the whole world is looking at you and you’re just dying and you know, and I was like 4 foot nothing and I was carrying around 20 extra pounds.

So I was about as wide as I was tall.


I did not want to have the center of attention on me.

So she affected me very negatively.

And so I I pretty much hit.

I had a wonderful 4th grade teacher, wonderful 5th grade teacher.

They were lovely.

But the teacher who made me feel cherished was my 6th grade teacher, Missus Stewart.


And she was like Auntie Mame.

And nobody knows who that is either because I’m old.

But look her up.

Auntie Mame was just like musical character, kind of a hello Dolly kind of person, right?

Very loud musical.


She she did the musical concert.

She just, you know, loved me and made me feel important and made me feel seen and made me feel cherished.

And so she was the reason why I became a teacher.

And although I I’m not musical, I’ll, I’ll sing.


I’ll get, I’ll sing.

But anyhow, those are kind of some things I wanted to say.

I guess the big takeaways is you could be a Misses Hess or you can be a Misses Stewart.

It doesn’t matter.

Just be who you are.

Love your students.

And when your students drive you to the edge and you’re thinking I’m going to throw myself over, don’t publicly humiliate them.


Don’t publicly shame.

You know, praise in public, correct and private those.

Well, and some of the best, some of the best teachers are the ones that can find that in those students, right?

The ones that can find the reasons to praise, yeah.

You got to look sometimes hard.



In my I I think we’ve talked about my favorite teacher as a a child before was was Missus Crapno.

My second grade teacher.

I I loved her.

I I I took her flowers all the time.

I came home and told my mom what she was wearing that day at school.

Like I she might be listening to this too, and she’s I.



Know if she remembers that or not.

But we’re we’re friends.

We’re we’re friends on social media and whatnot and she still lives back in that town.

But I still stay in contact with one of my first grade teachers.

So I I was not in her class.

We had two sections of each grade level and I was not in Miss Fuson’s class.


I was in misses Anderson’s class.

But Andrews?

Miss Andrews.

But Miss Fuson is still teaching.

She’s in her 40, 5th year maybe, I don’t know what year she’s on.

She’s in her 40s of teaching.

Years of teaching has no no signs of slowing down whatsoever.


I remember her playing the guitar.

I remember her being 100% herself, right?

Like 100% her.

But people remember her and love her for that.

Miss Crapnoll was just that very soft spoken one who I went through.

I don’t remember a lot about second I but I remember that’s when I got glasses and I I remember like I was I was super excited to get glasses but I was a dork and I’m sure people made me realize that I was a dork and but Missus crapno just had this super calming ways of of making you feel wanted and invisible every single day.


My tough year was was my third grade year.

It it just, I don’t know, we didn’t click there.

I don’t want to drop names.

It was just one of those years that I did.

You did mine.

I don’t.

Know if mine are listening from the other side.


They it just it just wasn’t it was one of those years where I right away and but I’m not said putting the blame on this this teacher at all because I obviously had done something but my best friend and I at the time were right away labeled as the two to watch out for like we were this this one teacher had it out for us from the start like just because we were noticed as those little boys that that cause trouble.


You know and not like misbehaved aggressive bad.

We just we just thought we were the funniest people on the face of the earth.

You know probably were and I was But it continued and here’s the here’s the cool part about that story that continued.

I didn’t stop trying to be funny and and and do things and and impress the girls and whatnot because that’s what it was all about was chasing these little girls around the playground.


But in fifth grade I remember I had one of the strictest teachers ever one of the people knew that he was super strict.

Mr. Currier is the name and he he was a strict teacher but I loved him and I still remember his classroom because he found a different way to handle the ones that that knew how to cause some issues.



Like he he found a way to to reach you, not just label you.

And it was it was amazing.

I loved it And I thankfully I still thank this my parents for this.

I grew up in a super small town and I know a lot of people look at that as don’t can’t you wait to get out, you know.


But I loved it.

I loved living in this small town.

Everybody knew everybody.

Your teachers knew you, whether that was good or bad at some points.

But I got to know every single teacher in our school because we were that small, right?

Like, it’s not just because I had them.


And then going to high school, I went to a super small high school too.

But I still remember some of my high school teachers are the ones that that just made you just made you feel welcome, right?

Like made you feel visible every single day.

But even going on to college, like two of my college professors stand out to me as two people.


I will never ever forget one.

Her name is Missus Grimm.

I don’t think she’s a professor there anymore, but she was our children’s literature teacher for, like, our education degree.

She would come in dressed in, like Lily’s purple plastic purse clothing and read a story to us as college students, Right?


Like oh.

My gosh, she loved that.

She was showing us what it was like to be a teacher rather than reading out of a textbook and saying here’s all the rights and wrongs of educate like she was being a teacher for all of us to see what it was like and what we could be as a teacher.

I still remember her dressing up in like her feather boa and stuff like all these characters.


And then my advisor in college was by far someone who completely changed my outlook on what it means to be a teacher and a good person.

And and he he was the most like most not by the book.


I know what you’d call that.

Not by the book.

Unorthodox, I guess.


There you go.

I couldn’t think of the word.

Yeah, like he he didn’t make us buy books for his courses.

We’d never had to buy a textbooks for his class and his every single class that he taught was a discussion about our thoughts on education, his experiences with education.


He had gone through a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of issues with his son that had autism and some of the negatives that they saw in education with him, not him, but the way he was treated by teachers and people across the country where they had moved from.

And his classroom was just this amazing round table discussion every time we set foot in there.


But I walked away learning so much about what it meant to be someone who’s going to be changing the lives of of of other people.

And it it it’s just it’s one of those things and and I I don’t know I I think that’s what’s so good about.

Our career is even when there is that that one bad apple that might might make you want to go to school right.


There are ten others who who are going to make you remember the the good about it and and I think I think we’ve said this before on here.

I know I say when I and work with teachers is that I truly believe that there there’s no such thing as a bad teacher.

I think there are people who that were meant to be teachers and people who were not meant to be teachers but found their way into a classroom, right?


If you were truly meant to be a teacher, then I don’t think that there’s a bad bone in your body as far as what it means to be an educator.

It’s just, are you going to click with every child?


I think that changes as you grow older too.

I think at the primary level it’s a bit easier to to relate to all your kids, yeah.


It’s it’s easier to build that relationship with 2025 than it is with, you know, 100 and something.

And like you said it, it’s it’s going to stick with these kids.

I mean, look, you’re you’re you’re 29 years old, Didi, and it’s still stuck with you.

It’s still stuck with you.


You know and and I guess probably the way Turk kind of wrap this up because I know that if you’re sitting in the car and you want to go in your house more than like you do that real soon.

But I guess the the big take away for me is you know, if you’re a a new teacher or if you’re you’re trying to find your way, you know, build the relationship with your students that is authentic and true to you.


You know, make sure that you have a classroom management system that gets you what you are looking for as far as classroom management, but that also nurtures and grows students And is that something that you’re going to have your first year?

Probably not.

It takes a while to get that under your belt.


And I’m also going to say this, as a seasoned teacher, in my 29 years of life, there has not been a year that I haven’t walked into my closet closet and cried out of frustration over things that are happening in my classroom that I should have.


You know, I want to have control over, but I don’t appear to.

And and I just, I want to say that because to think that every day is sunshine and roses.

I’m not telling people who are listening and you.

Go in your closet and cry.


All like, yeah, no, I literally went in my closet like everything.


Like I’m crying right now?


I’m like I’m.

But no, it’s you’re exactly right.

It it it is.

As much as your students look at you as this superhero, this person that’s not even a real person outside of the classroom, a lot of times that can come down on us and we have to put on this front, right?


That that we are a teacher and we are happy.

That’s why.

That’s why that book got written.

My teacher has feelings too, because my kids came in one day and they go, teachers are always happy.

I’m like, no, you’re.

Like, no, my teachers are feeling too.

And you’re on my very last nerve, just so you.

Know we we are real people.

We are real people and we we have some of the biggest pressures as far as you know, you’re dealing with other people’s children.


I mean you are dealing with say.

Things come in your classroom.

You have no control all over.

Yes, you only have control of what happens when they’re there.

But you’re exactly right.

It’s it’s the way that you step back and and whether that is going in your closet for a few minutes or sitting in your car and swearing to death.



What’s that glue that’s really strong?


Are you going to?

Say I’m just saying sometimes keeping that glue or that marker.

Oh, OK.

OK, is all you need I.

Was like, what are you gluing shut?

It was.

No, I’m not gluing anything.


What’s it called?

EEE 7 something or EE. 6000 E 6000 I Think Yeah Teacher Glue.

About 6000 journeys, but anyhow.

You know what’s funny though is, is it’s I’m so glad you said as a new teacher you’re not going to figure this out right away, right.


And I’m, I’m going to relate that to something going on right now.

And I just heard Auggie moving around out there.

Auggie that you You guys have heard me talk about Auggie, my little dog before.

An amazing dog.

He’s he’s the greatest little boy.

He loves everybody but he hates cars pulling in our driveway like he barks non-stop.


It could be Trisha coming home from school and if she doesn’t park in the garage but parks in the driveway he will bark at that vehicle.

Even knowing he knows it’s his mom.


He knows it’s Trisha coming home so and I’ve been getting on him.

I’m like, and I found myself starting to yell like, we’re not going to bark at the car like it’s no one there.


The other day, Olivia’s friend came to pick her up for school.

Augie barked.

I was in the kitchen.

I walked out there, and I don’t know why, but I just said, hey, I heard you.

Thank you for letting us know that she’s here.

And he he looked at me and went right back to the couch and curled up in a little ball and went.


I was like, maybe I’m like a new teacher with this.

I need to redirect how I’m talking to him.

And since that day, I’ve.

I’ve heard him bark.

I just go, Hey, thank you for letting me know you can go lay down and he’s he’s done it.

So I’m not trying to compare dogs to you.


So long, Adam Peterson.

What took you so long?

He’s looking at you like you are a slow learner.

And I’ve had Augie for, we’ve had him for three years now.


So if you think you’re a a new teacher and you’re still pulling your hair out because you haven’t figured it out, it’s OK.

It’s OK.



I mean Google.

Pay for your.

Friend, you can find solutions that are there, but what one solution may work for you may not work for another.

You know, there’s lots of different ways to train dogs.

There’s lots of different ways to manage your classroom.

And so you if one thing doesn’t work, try something else.


Just just stay hungry for the solution and we know that you’ll get it.

If you have any questions, let us know.

We’ll be back next time.

Talking about centers.

Is that true, Matt?


No, you’re not Matt.

You’re not my child.

You could be my you could be in my child, but you are not my child.



Is that sound right?


That what you’re next?

That is perfect.


I’m excited to talk about centers and share some ideas.



I’m going to adopt you so.


All right.

Putting you on the 1099.

All right.

Bye everybody.

There you go.

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