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Alumni Spotlight – Kristian Lenderman

Kristian Lenderman is an alum of the Teaching Excellence program, now pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching at Relay GSE.  


“Exploring manipulatives for elementary math at a Relay GSE Houston MAT Content Day”
















When did you complete the Teaching Excellence program?

May 2014

Where do you teach now and what is your role on campus?

Shadow Oaks Elementary in Spring Branch ISD – 3rd grade ESL teacher

How did your Teaching Excellence experience prepare you to pursue a master’s degree?

My experience at Teaching Excellence prepared me to partake in Relay’s program because of its large focus on learning through experience. With teaching, you can talk all you want outside the classroom, but once you are inside that is where the real learning (and failing) takes place. I loved having a coach that could watch me apply the techniques we learned and help me perfect my craft as the year went on. This aligns perfectly to Relay’s theory of higher education. Everything we learn and do is embedded in my real classroom with my real students. This makes me so much more effective as an instructor because I am utilizing expert knowledge in real time to push my students even farther than they thought possible. 

How have your Teaching Excellence and Relay experiences impacted your teaching? How has it impacted your students’ learning?

Both Teaching Excellence and Relay have made my teaching more purposeful. In Teaching Excellence, our major focus at first was lesson planning and at the end of the year I was ready for something bigger. Where Teaching Excellence left off, Relay picked up with the next step I needed: unit planning. Every month, I have a new unit that is aligned to standards, but also themed based with an academic performance that fits into my students’ needs. Another thing that both Teaching Excellence and Relay heavily focus on is using our data to drive instruction. In Relay, the mastery trackers that we use have shifted the way that I pull small groups and plan stations because I have reliable data that shows me each student’s area of growth. Meaning, I can be purposeful in not only the content that I put in front of my students, but also the standards that cater to their needs.  Lastly, I think the coaches and support from both Teaching Excellence and Relay encourage me to continually ask questions and push myself to improve. 

My students have benefited greatly from me being more purposeful in my instruction. They are excited to learn because they feel like it is relevant to their lives and their futures, which makes it that much easier to get them to where they need to be. They also love being on camera and showing off what they know, so it works out for both parties involved! 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Well, good question! In five years, hopefully I will be working at a school in an interventionist role or getting my doctorate in education or teaching, or running an after school program or any place where I get to hang out with kiddos…and go to recess.  

How would your students describe you?  Why?

They would describe me as a big goofball. I know this because we were writing autobiographical poems, and I asked my monkeys (students) to help me write one about myself…here are the most pertinent lines:  


Number one teacher,

Who is very goofy,

Who works very hard,

Who has a funny face,

Pretty, nice, gritty, silly,

Leader of the monkeys,



What’s something funny that your students have done/said lately?

I was playing soccer with my kids at recess when a student from another class pushed someone else. I was trying to have a conversation with him, but he shut down and ran up on top of the jungle gym area. So, naturally, I climbed up the jungle gym after him, and his face was priceless. He was so shocked that he couldn’t keep up his angry exterior when he laughingly asked, “Are teachers even allowed up here?!?” Let’s just say, we haven’t had any pushing issues since. 


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