2016: My name is Sarah, and I am beginning my 9th year teaching, 2nd year as the Subject Supervisor for my 6-12 Social Studies Department, and 2nd year teaching at the high school level after a wonderful 7 years teaching 8th graders. I now teach 11th grade History in a district with 1:1 laptops at the secondary level.
My class (sadly, I only teach one now with my administrative position) is gamified. We’ve created something of an alternate universe based around the overarching goals and objectives of the course. The idea behind gamification is to promote engagement and get kids excited about learning History. I by no means invented this idea, but have integrated it into my classroom with the help of pioneers like Chris Aviles of TechedUpTeacher and Leigh A. Hall of Confessions of a Bored Academic. These two did a lot to get me thinking about teaching in a whole new way. I started implementing this in my 8th grade classroom with my then classroom roommate and mentor, and was skeptical of the jump to 11th grade, but if anything they’ve been even more engaged in the experience than my 8th graders!
I plan (really this time) to express my process and musings here transitioning to an administrative role and continuing to experiment with innovative practices to improve classroom experiences for my students.
2013: Welcome to The Excellent Educator blog! My name is Sarah. I am a 26 year old middle school teacher, department Instructional Coach, CAGS student, camp counselor, avid Crossfitter, and educational technology nerd. I teach 8th grade Social Studies at a school about a half hour south of Boston, and I spend my summers on Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire.
This year, I was lucky enough to get a cart of 25 iPad 2s for use in my classroom. Actually, they were plunked in my room around the end of September in a giant box, at which my students gazed and asked endlessly, “What is that!” until it was unpacked and set up.
Then, promptly after its emptying, they continued to gaze at the giant box that lay in the corner of my room for two weeks and ask, “Can we play with that?” as I taught them how to use the $500 piece of technology in their hands. Oh how inspiring it can be to look at the future of our society each and every day.
You may be wondering why I chose to title my blog, The Excellent Educator. Well, quite honestly, I am just that. I mean, I don’t have MCAS data to support it, or a Teacher of the Year plaque, but I am still pretty sure its true. “How arrogant!” you might say, or, “Who even reads blogs? If you can’t say it in 140 characters, who cares… tweet that ish!” You might be right. Or maybe, you will read my multi-sentence posts, learn from my infinite wisdom, and reevaluate your previous silly notions of my incredibly accurate blog title. Just remember, if my attempts at wit flop, or my analysis appears too shallow for your vast intellect, you always have the power of closing this window and moving on. I hope you don’t, though, and instead converse with me, share ideas, try some of the things I try in my classroom, challenge my perspectives, laugh with me at the hilarity that occurs in any classroom on a regular basis, and add your knowledge and insight as fellow educators clomping through this challenging profession. Thanks for reading!