Featured Teacher:
Nicole Menssen

October 12th, 2018

 

Nicole

Each month we share the stories of dynamic educators who are using MasteryConnect in innovative ways to help students be their best! Follow along with our Featured Teacher series and get to know other teachers in the MC community.

Meet Nicole Menssen, she’s been teaching for 8 years and currently teaches second grade at John Hancock Charter School. She has taught almost all of the elementary school subjects you can think of, including Math, Reading, Writing, Science, Social Studies, Art and Computers. She started out her career in the tech industry, but began teaching because she felt a strong desire to positively impact future generations.


 

What grades have you taught?
Second grade

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
Traveling and eating

How do you avoid burnout?
I try to avoid burnout by setting clear boundaries and expectations, having a weekly date night with my husband, and being a deliberate parent – I’m very involved in knowing what’s going on with my kids.

What keeps you excited about teaching?
I love the innovative side of teaching. Right now, we’re at an exciting time when the promise of technology and its ability to help individuals achieve learning goals is being more fully realized. We should see dramatic changes in what school looks like as we better utilize these tools to help students learn and create.

Why did you start teaching?
I started my career in high-tech, but after my twins were born, I had a massive shift in priorities. I found that my desire to have a positive impact on the next generation outweighed the benefits I was getting in high-tech.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
If you give a company 8 hours, they’ll take 8 hours. If you give them 12 hours, they’ll take 12 hours. There’s ALWAYS work to do. To keep your balance with family life and work, you sometimes have to walk away and leave some things undone.

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
“Try Everything” by Shakira

What is your favorite book on education?
The One World Schoolhouse by Salman Khan (This is a MasteryConnect favorite!)

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
You don’t have to be perfect your first year, or even your second or third years. Your fellow teachers want to help you – use them as a resource. You will be amazed at how hard kids will work if they have a goal. You would also be amazed at how motivating a simple leaderboard is.

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
If I weren’t teaching, then I would want to be a travel/food blog/vlogger.

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
Last year, I had a little guy in my class that struggled as a reader, and he was very unmotivated to do any work in his intervention program. I helped him to set a VERY aggressive goal: He needed to complete all the second grade levels by a certain date. We agreed on how we would celebrate his success, and he was suddenly on fire! He worked hard and achieved his goal. The entire class celebrated his success, and his work in his program made a big difference in both his confidence and reading skills.

What is your favorite quote?
Right now… this is my favorite: “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” – William Pollard

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
I want all of my students to master 100 addition (0+0 to 9+9) facts with 95% accuracy in 5 minutes or less. Right now, we’ve improved our class average from 55% in 5 minutes to 83% in 4:38.

What is your favorite MC Feature?
Raw Score entry really makes my life easier. I love being able to enter scores or observations for a single standard/objective without having to create or upload an entire test. I also really love the red-yellow-green bar on the tracker right behind the student names that shows how many standards they’ve mastered, how many are near mastery, and how many need remediation.

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
I want them to love how it feels to accomplish hard things.

What is your dream vacation?
I love to travel with my family. I have a huge Wanderlust Pinterest board with all the places I want to see: New Zealand, Dubai, anywhere in Europe, Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Tahiti.

Anything else you want to add about yourself?
This December, I will complete my Reading Endorsement to be a reading specialist. I’m always interested in learning and improving my practice.


A big thanks to our Featured Teachers! Visit our blog regularly to meet other rockstars in the MasteryConnect community.

Featured Teacher:
Jessica Jones

October 2nd, 2018

 

Samantha

Each month we share the stories of dynamic educators who are using MasteryConnect in innovative ways to help students be their best! Follow along with our Featured Teacher series and get to know other teachers in the MC community.

Meet Jessica Jones, she’s been teaching for 14 years and currently teaches at not one, but TWO schools— Montgomery City Elementary and Jonesburg Elementary in Missouri. She has taught special education, third grade and art. She not only has a cool superhero name, she’s also a superhero teacher–and a volunteer fire chief!


 

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
The best advice I got was to leave work at work and recharge by filling my bucket at home. It’s hard to do sometimes, you always have more that you could do as a teacher, but refilling my bucket makes me ready to give it my all.

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
My goal is to develop deeper relationships with a few of the struggling students in our school. I want my room to be a safe welcoming place for them. I want to be that one caring adult for them, that could change their life course.

How do you avoid burnout?
I avoid burnout by working hard during the work day and week and make sure to take time off at night and on the weekends as much as possible to spend time with family and friends.

What keeps you excited about teaching?
I love the joy on my kiddos faces as the dig into the work and often get dirty. They love the messy projects!

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
“Good Morning” by Mandisa

What is your favorite book on education?
I’m currently studying “The Growth Mindset Coach”

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
Breathe. Go home at the end of the day. Come back ready soar. It will get easier!

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
Outside of the art room, I practice my craft as a photographer, doing family photos, events, and weddings. I also volunteer at the local fire department as the Assistant Fire Chief.

If teaching wasn’t an option, what kind of career would you have?
I would build my photography business more and probably go work as a paid firefighter/EMT.

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
The day the paint exploded. I had a young friend open a bottle of orange tempera paint that had clearly gone bad. The paint literally spewed forth like and exploding volcano. All over her, the people around her, the walls, tables, floor, and even ceiling. There is still a lovely splatter of orange on our art room ceiling to this day!

What is your favorite quote?
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso. So true!

What is your favorite MC Feature?
I love the visual nature of it. The color coding of the students level of success makes it very easy with a quick glance to see how an individual or class is doing.

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
The main thing I hope for my students is to develop a love for the arts. I want to give them possibilities, for future careers, or just for fun!

What is your dream vacation?
I dream of taking a European tour, visiting so many of the places learned about in history and seeing first hand many of the great master artists works.

Anything else you want to add about yourself?
I’m a small town girl, hoping to one day live out on the family farm with my little family. Then break away for short periods to travel the globe.


Thanks to our October Featured Teachers! Visit our blog each month to meet other rockstars in the MasteryConnect community.

Featured Teacher:
Megan Cox

September 28th, 2018

 

Samantha

Each month we share the stories of dynamic educators who are using MasteryConnect in innovative ways to help students be their best! Follow along with our Featured Teacher series and get to know other teachers in the MC community.

Megan Cox teachers at Blackridge Elementary in the Greater Salt Lake City area. A nine-year teaching veteran, she’s  taught Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 6th grades. Read on to learn what she thinks would be her perfect walk-on song!

 


What keeps you excited about teaching?
Learning new things and new ways to teach. The energy of students.

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
Put in the time now and you will be rewarded for it later.

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
Learning is important but being kind is what matters most.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
When all else fails, try something new.

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
High Hopes” by Panic! At the Disco

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
Social Services or Business

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
Having a difficult student. He didn’t learn much but he grew so much socially. He learned respect and how to calm down. He learned that he MATTERS!

What is your favorite quote?
“It is our choices that show us what we truly are far more than our abilities.” -Albus Dumbledore

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
Make connections and relationships with more kids.

What is your favorite MC Feature?
Socrative

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
Reading on my Kindle

What is your dream vacation?
Europe

Anything else you want to add about yourself?
Using tools like MC make our jobs easier. It allows us to focus on the kids. What their true needs are and it allows us to think outside of the box.


Check back often to meet other amazing educators in the MasteryConnect community!

 

Samantha

Each month we share the stories of dynamic educators who are using MasteryConnect in innovative ways to help students be their best! Follow along with our Featured Teacher series and get to know other teachers in the MC community.

Meet James Mazzarano, math teacher at Fordham High School for the Arts in New York City. Mr. Mazzarano has been teaching grades 9-12 for four years. A college swimmer and diver, read on to see how he channels his inner Yoda to stay excited about teaching.

 


Which subjects have you taught?
Algebra I, Honors Algebra II, Algebra II, Honors Geometry, Math and Financial Applications

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
Provide a more student-centered classroom where all students feel safe to participate and collaborate together.

What keeps you excited about teaching?
Seeing students succeed in content and life skills I have taught them.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Teaching is not a field you should enter if you are looking for a 100 on every task you are expected to complete. Teaching is about efficiency and willingness to learn and grow.

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
“Monument” – A Day to Remember

What is your favorite book on education?
Front of the Class by Brad Cohen

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
Ask questions. If you do not know how to do something, always ask. It is better to ask for help than to “suffer in silence.” Each school has a community of teachers to help and support you.

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
I would be a structural engineer building homes.

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
A student and their classmates told me that I am one of the most consistent figures in their lives, and they use what I have taught them every day.

What is your favorite quote?
“Failure, the greatest teacher is.” -Master Yoda

What is your favorite MC Feature?
Data reports by standard.

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
I want students to learn that you can use math in a variety of ways. They may not take away every concept or topic I cover, but they will take away something.

What is your dream vacation?
Sitting on a beach somewhere tropical listening to the sound of the crashing waves.

What else would you like to share?
I have been a swimmer and a diver most of my life. I swam and dove varsity in middle school and high school, year-round on a USA Swimming team, and swam and dove in college.


Check back often to meet other amazing educators in the MasteryConnect community!