Friday, June 19, 2015

Top Ten~ish Takeaways from 2014 - 2015.

1) Apparently having a passion for teaching reading and math is still considered weird.  I'm extremely proud to have both my Math classroom certification and my Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators Classroom Educator certification.  It is amazing how when I'm tutoring in math my OG training comes out:
  • "What is this word?" 
  • "Hundr... umm... I don't know that word."
  • "What does 'th' say?"
  • "/th/... oh hundreths..."
Most teachers I come across love one or the other.  I can't see one without the other.

2) It is amazing how much growth my students show on standardized tests when I'm just allowed to teach.  I wonder how my other placements would have gone if I wasn't as micro-managed.

3)  On that topic, I'm still amazed we live in a country where 100% of teachers need to prove that 100% of the students in their class showed over a year of growth.  No other profession is held to that standard.  No doctor has to have a 100% patient survival rate,  no police officer has to have a 100% crime free district.

4) Even after 18 years of teaching I still do not have a 'set' curriculum.  Each class is different, each year leads down a different path.  I have material that I integrate, but my lessons always change. This is not a bad thing.  It could also be because for the 9th time in 8 years I'll be changing classrooms.

5) Connecting to a Personal Learning Network  has been amazing.  Using twitter as an educational professional development tool allowed me to grow in ways that no other medium could have done. I was able to give and get feedback and ideas nearly instantly.  I went from never using twitter to hosting #MSchat discussion in less than one year.  Check out links on the right to see at all the awesome educators you should also be reading!

6)  I'm very thankful to the Association for Middle Level Educators to provide such a wonderful conference, as well as Marburn Academy for providing me the opportunity to go there!  I made so many professional connections, saw amazing presentations, and met truly passionate middle level educators!

Some #MSchat members at #AMLE2014

7) I LOVE presenting at conferences.  AMLE 2014 was my first national conference and I loved being able to share my ideas, thoughts, and techniques.  I loved getting feedback from participants and especially loved getting e-mails saying how they incorporated my ideas into their classroom.  Unfortunately it didn't work out for AMLE 2015, but this is a role I want to expand in the future. [ ADVICE ON HOW TO DO THIS IS HIGHLY REQUESTED :) ]

8) Teach a student how to solve a rubik's cube and their confidence in EVERYTHING goes up exponentially.  I have yet to find any exceptions to this rule.

9) Apparently I have a knack for coming up with a game for any topic and any grade level.  I seem to be the go-to person when someone needs a 'fun way' to do this topic.   What can I say, I like games!

10) I'm still incredibly proud of our division's Hunger Games Food Drive. Arguably one of my best memories as a classroom teacher.

Positive use of competition

11) Lessons are better when you teach like a pirate.  Get the students wondering about what is going on instead of 'what are we going to learn' :play some music, come in costume, rearrange the room, make up stories... use mystery and intrigue.  The learning occurs naturally from there.

12) After a dozen and a half years I'm still as passionate about teaching as I was when I started. I'm already reading PD books and planning big picture ideas for 2015-2016.  It's like it never turns off!

Thank you all for reading my blog this year - it has been quite an experiment for me.  I'm not the type that usually publishes my writing, but I hope you have gotten something out of it.  I really loved getting the comments, e-mails, and tweets about how my ideas helped you in your class.   I'll be posting a bit over the summer and will be back full time in the fall!

Michael :)


  1. You have done some very cool things this year. And, I love the whole, "teach like a pirate" thing!

  2. Thanks for the Teach Like a Pirate shout out, Michael! Loved connecting at at AMLE14 and I see our chat group pic above! Have a fantastic summer and I hope to see you Twitter.

  3. Martha: Thank you - I am glad to work at a school where I have an opportunity to do amazing things :)

    Dave: Thank you for being such an inspiration to educators. I look forward to #tlap every week (I took a couple weeks off for summer vacation, but I'll be back in force!)