May Person of the Month: Candice Crump
Ms. Crump is a fourth-grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher at Houston Elementary School, a second-year Turnaround for Children partner in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 7. She was nominated by Instructional Coach Barry Brinkley, who praised Ms. Crump for her “amazing job of incorporating Headspace and mindfulness into her classroom practices.” When Turnaround introduced mindfulness last fall, Ms. Crump was the first teacher among our Washington, D.C. partner schools to incorporate it into her everyday practice.
THE 180: Did you always know that you wanted to be a teacher?
CANDICE CRUMP: When I was a young child, I used to play school with my friends and conduct class. I had a chalkboard and they were my students. So the passion has been in me since I was young.
THE 180: You have been at Houston Elementary for a long time – 13 years. What changes have you seen through Turnaround’s partnership over the last two years?
CANDICE CRUMP: Turnaround has helped change the administration, that’s number one. Previously there were difficulties with leadership communication and providing staff with a sense of comfort. Messages would be passed down through people, rather than directly communicated. But it’s not like that anymore. Turnaround has helped put systems in place. Our principal is more aware of what’s going on with the staff and students and he’s more visible. Just being there to greet the parents, students and teachers in the morning makes such a difference in how the climate is in the building. It’s much more family-oriented.
THE 180: Barry Brinkley mentioned you’re one of the teachers leading the incorporation of mindfulness into the classroom. What benefits have you seen from mindfulness with your students?
CANDICE CRUMP: So much calmness, so much concentration. I see my students using think time – actually taking the time to stop and think about a situation before automatically reacting.
I can see how my class really uses it to their benefit – they’re so relaxed and calm. I always incorporate it when they come back from switching from math to ELA. It gets them ready to get started with the work rather than being all hyped up and loud.
THE 180: Did your students resist mindfulness at first?
CANDICE CRUMP: No, they never had any qualms and they love it. They will remind me. Every day is not perfect; sometimes we may miss doing mindfulness or have to do it really late. So my students remind me, “Miss Crump, please don’t forget, we didn’t do HeadSpace yet.”
THE 180: Besides doing mindfulness through HeadSpace, what other strategies do you find yourself using that Turnaround has introduced to you?
CANDICE CRUMP: Reminder language. Sometimes when kids make us upset, we may say things that we don’t need to say, things that could hurt kids. But learning how to implement reminder language and adjust my tone makes a difference. For example, “look how Jodie is sitting” or “look how neat Nathan is drawing.” You pull someone out as a positive example, bring it to everyone’s attention and remind them what the expectation is in the classroom, without putting other kids down. And sometimes, when you do that, then you don’t even have to do any correcting because everybody else will just fall in place. It’s a great strategy – because yelling and “stop talking” goes nowhere.
THE 180: What do you think is the most important thing that students need to succeed?
CANDICE CRUMP: Confidence. I think they need to be confident in themselves. Just because you don’t know the content at the moment, does not mean that you are not going to get it. If you have confidence and an open mind – like we say, a growth mindset – you’re going to be successful. But if you have a fixed mindset, you’re not going to go anywhere.
So if a child has been taught how to build and establish their confidence, they are going to always be successful because they will never give up, no matter how difficult the task. And that’s what I teach my students. We don’t want our kids to give up. If they believe in themselves, then they will always be successful.