By Mrs. Christie Bishop
Editor’s Note: This is the final entry in a series of blog posts that trace the journey of a classroom teacher as she learned how to teach chess and initiate a chess program at her school. Mrs. Christie Bishop serves as a Pre-K teacher and chess coach at Genoa Elementary, a Pre-K – 4 school in the Pasadena Independent School District (ISD) in Houston, Texas.
How I’ve Grown as a Teacher
It’s hard to say how I’ve grown as a teacher specifically due to chess, because I’ve basically been teaching chess for 8 of my 9 years of teaching. Teaching chess has always been a part of my journey and I know it has made me the teacher I am today.
I would say that coaching our chess club has helped me learn how to manage my time better. This is because chess club is volunteer work for me, so I need to make sure I am getting my regular teaching work done first and then have time for chess things. Teaching chess is something I make time for because I have seen the impact it has on my students.
Chess has also improved my organizational skills. It takes a lot of organization to make sure that 80+ kids have permission to stay after school, communicate dates of club, make sure the other staff knows what is going on, and have boards and pieces ready to play. I also need to make sure that I have the lessons I need to cater to a variety of players from beginners to competition ready kids. This goes along with my teaching because as teachers we need to help a variety of levels of students every day.
I have grown in my communication skills a lot due to my work with chess. I was quite shy when I first began teaching and did not enjoy speaking in front of other adults. Students I am all good with, but adults always made me super nervous. Due to the success of our chess club, I have been asked to present my ideas and strategies for chess club many times. This has given me a lot of practice presenting in front of other teachers. I also have to make sure that parents, teachers, students, and the other staff know when chess club will be and who needs to be there. Using a variety of communication methods (email, paper, classdojo, and Facebook) helps to make sure everyone knows what is going on with chess at our school.
Girls/Women in Chess
We’ve seen it in our club, and I know it’s common in the chess world, that girls and women are a minority. In the competitions we attend, we do see more boys than girls in attendance. Part of why I love teaching chess is because I know I am a role model for the girls in my school and hopefully beyond that. They learn how to play chess from me, and they see how much I love it. They show interest and I don’t want them to feel like chess is more of a boy game. We have had quite a few girls that have become very good and win trophies and medals. My goal is to bring as many girls as possible to competitions, if they are ready for it. We focus on all of our student’s chess skills, it’s not about race, culture, gender, etc.
Links to Mrs. Bishop’s Activities
Mrs. Bishop’s personal website that includes her chess club information: https://lovelyladybugteacher.weebly.com/chess-club.html
Genoa Elementary School’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GenoaElementarySchool
Mrs. Bishop’s twitter is @LadybugCJB