Charissa Aalgaard and Kristina Glass are two second grade teachers at W.T. Lewis Elementary School with a passion for education. Half way through the 2017-2018 school year as partner teachers, the two bonded over making fun plans for their students.
At the time, Aalgaard taught English Language Arts and Social Studies to her students then again to the students of her partner teacher, Glass. Glass taught both groups math and science.
This was their first year as partner teachers.
“I taught kindergarten for five years prior so it was my first year moving up to second grade and it was her first year full-time teaching,” said Glass.
As the two developed a friendship, they also spent time together out of town during conferences to grow in their profession.
“We’ve been to multiple professional development opportunities such as Get Your Teach On and The Ron Clark Academy and since then we’ve really been on fire for education and passionate about our kids,” said Aalgaard.
Though they teach multiple children during the week, they are eager to learn themselves.
“Although we’re already trained for this work, it’s a constantly evolving career. There’s always new ways to make things more engaging and more rigorous for the kids. Our jobs never stop. We have to learn about new technology, new curriculum and new activities,” said Glass.
As a result of these conferences, the two created a joint blog, 2 Peas in the Green Pod, for other teachers, which focuses on professional development and encouragement.
“So many topics ran through our heads and we just felt like we needed to share this,” said Aalgaard. “There are so many in the teaching profession, I feel like they get discouraged because it’s so much and it’s so much work to do and it’s easy to forget your purpose for teaching so we just wanted to start that blog to hopefully encourage some teachers.”
The blog name came easily. If you’ve ever walked through the halls of W.T. Lewis, then you know that the school breaks out into different areas they refer to as pods. Each pod is divided by the grade and then categorized in its own color. The second grade pod happens to be green – thus giving them an easy-to-remember name that also echoes their unique friendship.
Aalgaard believes in sharing the encouragement with other teachers and she does that daily through what she calls a “Teacher Tribe.”
“We wouldn’t survive without each other or without our team,” she said.
The pair’s Teacher Tribe consists of the other teachers in the green pod and it is used as a safe space to unload, confide in each other and to provide reinforcement.
“It’s important because you need to be able to talk to others about what you’re going through and what’s going on,” said Glass.
The two peas described a standard message to the Teacher Tribe as saying, “I’m struggling with this today, please help.” To which they would reply with affirming messages of support. Glass recommends all teachers have a tribe because it sends the reminder that they are not alone.
“It’s definitely not an easy job and it’s not 8 to 3,” she said. “I often get kicked out [the class] at the end of the day and then I go home and do more work. But I think once we went to The Ron Clark Academy, that’s when we were ready to do more.”
When you first visit the blog, you’ll see their entries of encouraging messages, but you won’t be able to ignore all the fun photos of the pair dressed in a joint sweater with two neck holes, inflatable dinosaurs, patriotic headwear made from toilet paper rolls and not to mention the larger-than-life smiles.
They will tell anyone about their love of dressing up in silly costumes for the students, which are stored in several bins both in the classroom and at home. The pair also coordinates room transformations where you may find their classrooms in the theme of Candyland, a racetrack or pirates.
You may also find Aalgaard and Glass dancing on top of a desk or giving a lesson plan through a pink, sparkly microphone. The contagious high-energy is matched by the students, too. They are synchronized in song lyrics and dance moves to routines created by the teacher duo.
“It makes the kids excited and it makes our days way more enjoyable. Although it may seem a little more hectic, the kids get so much out of those days. I feel refilled after those days and you’re kind of reminded of your purpose because the kids just get so excited to be at school. It’s something different and unexpected,” said Glass.
Between working full-time and going home to their personal lives, both Aalgaard and Glass admit the blog is difficult to keep up with but the outcome is worth it.
“We’re just two regular teachers super passionate about teaching kids and giving them what they deserve and providing those fun learning experiences for them at school,” said Aalgaard.
To watch this teacher duo’s high-energy style of teaching, watch their video here.