“The louder, the better” is Kimberly Burnett’s teaching philosophy. She is a self-proclaimed “hands-on, out-of-the-box teacher” who likes to transform her classroom in order... Burnett enjoys keeping her students guessing
Kimberly Burnett is her classroom at Curtis Elementary. (Danielle Ozbat photo)

“The louder, the better” is Kimberly Burnett’s teaching philosophy.

She is a self-proclaimed “hands-on, out-of-the-box teacher” who likes to transform her classroom in order to keep her students guessing.

“It’s almost like we’re in competition with their life outside of school and their video games and their constant movement, but we just really want them to love learning,” Burnett said.

She has been teaching for 13 years, nine in Prince William County and four at Curtis Elementary. She has taught second and third grade, and currently teaches third-graders.

Even though she is curious about middle school, Burnett joked that teaching grades above elementary scares her. She likes that second-graders have background knowledge of things but are still curious about the world around them and thirsty for knowledge.

“They’re just open to so much, and it’s just such a good age where they’re starting to really find where their niche is. We can help them get more comfortable in that,” Burnett said.

She likes to reward her students when they take ownership of their behavior.

A recent incentive saw her class come up with Mismatched Mondays, T-shirt Tuesdays, Wild Wednesdays, Team Sport Thursdays and Fuzzy Fridays.

“If building a community with morning meetings and then having those incentives is [going to] build the teamwork aspect of it, we [want to] celebrate that,” Burnett said. “So they get their compliments and work together, they earn prizes, and then as a class they get to vote so it just gives them ownership over their celebrations.”

After Chesterfield County encouraged educators to show what they’re doing in the classroom, Burnett got over her initial nerves about using Twitter. She said she receives a lot of positive feedback from parents and gets ideas from other teachers.

Burnett said she is constantly learning from her colleagues. Working on different teams has given her a new way of looking at things.

Burnett is happy with what she has achieved so far and thinks she has had more than an educational influence on her students.

She said one of her former students who went from being antisocial to starting games and conversations on his own.

“Those types of success stories are what I really pride myself [on] because those are the things that are [going to] help them later in life,” Burnett said.

“If you don’t have the relationship and the investment in them, they’re [going to] know that, and they’re not [going to] learn anything from you.”