Featured Teacher:
Patti Desmarais

November 30th, 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 Patti Desmarais, she has spent her entire teaching career of 34 years at Acton Elementary School in Texas and feels that every year brings a new, exciting challenge. She decided she wanted to be a teacher in 4th grade and has never looked back! Learn more about what keeps her excited about teaching there.


 

What grades have you taught?
Grades 1, 2, 3 and a multi 1-2 looping with them to 2-3

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
Snowshoeing

How do you avoid burnout?
I walk most days and do a workout every morning to start my day.

What keeps you excited about teaching?
Learning new things. A few years ago, I took a Methods Reading course (which I should have taken years ago) and learned so much. Last summer, I took a Methods Math course in response to the very low test scores. It was amazing to see how much things have changed. I am so much more energized and excited about math now. And seeing the faces of my students when they “get it” is priceless!

Why did you start teaching?
I decided to be a teacher when I was in 4th grade and never changed my mind. I guess it was the influence of teachers that I had.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Don’t overthink things. You know your students, trust yourself.

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
I’m not sure. Not very good with the names of songs. I just know that I sing my way to work every morning…alone…in my car…loudly.

What is your favorite book on education?
The text book from my Methods math class. I keep it handy all the time. Of course, it’s at work right now and I don’t have the name of it.

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
Don’t let people tell you it’s not worth the hard work because you won’t make any money. There is so much rewarding about this work. One former principal put it into perspective, sort of. He told me to hang in there because it was only 180 days a year. Of course, it’s much more than that. It’s hard work, but good work.

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
I would work in a plant nursery.

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
Looking at my students when everything clicks. And having a former student call me and tell me that she was writing a book because I told her that journaling would help her to keep her feelings in perspective.

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
My biggest goal is to help my students understand math and find a way to help it make sense to them.

What is your favorite MC Feature?
I really like being able to author my own items.

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
Learning is a lifelong skill. Don’t ever stop – I don’t.

What is your dream vacation?
A warm beach for a week with no laundry to do or house cleaning.

Anything else you want to add about yourself?
I have been at the same school for 34 years now. My sister once asked me how I could do that. I told her that every year I get a new set of students and a new challenge. I love what I do even when I get tired and don’t want to bring it home every night.


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

 

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 Katherine Karl Anderson, she currently teaches in Cicero School District in Illinois. As a technology resource teacher, she believes that technology in the classroom provides equal opportunities for students. Although she is cutting edge in the classroom, she still likes to throw it back and listen to a good 90s song every once in a while. Keep reading to find out Katherine’s favorite flashback song, and her go-to book on education!


 

What subjects have you taught?
Technology, Biology, Theater, Elementary Subjects

What grades have you taught?
2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 10th

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
I love to dance… or travel, I can’t decide!

How do you avoid burnout?
I make time for my dog and my husband and reading for fun!

What keeps you excited about teaching?
I remind myself that I am doing this for the kids! Thinking about equitable access for students in my district keeps me going. It is a huge goal but we take it one day at a time.

Why did you start teaching?
I really enjoy students. I love seeing them make connections and be excited about learning. I love the challenge of reaching every student and motivating them to be the best they can be! I also love doing theater with students. Students can grow so much from extra-curricular activities that require dedication but have huge rewards. Even with my little ones, Readers’ Theater became a fun project that allowed them to be so proud of their accomplishment.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Do something you love!

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
Smash Mouth – All Star! “Hey now, you’re an all star…” I was a child of the nineties 🙂

What is your favorite book on education?
Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman. Though it is actually a business book, it has really informed my teaching practice. I love the premise: that allowing people to explore and find what interests them, will actually make them engage more, produce more, and learn and grow more. It really sold me on STEAM and the benefits of project-based learning. Students never forget what they did for science fair!

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
It will get better and so will you! Ask for help, ask for advice, ask to be observed; never be afraid to grow.

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
I would want to direct theater or maybe act!

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
My most memorable moment this year was when a 2nd grade boy who wouldn’t take a test on paper, actually thanked me for letting him take a test on a computer through MasteryConnect. And he mastered the content!

What is your favorite quote?
You are your limit!

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
One of my goals this year is to become ISTE certified.

What is your favorite MC Feature?
I love the Compare feature (and not just because it looks cool). I love that it can show a teacher how rigorous their instruction and formative assessments are. Teachers sometimes think content is too hard for students but we cannot challenge them enough! They will rise to our expectations.

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
Since I am a technology resource teacher, I will tell you a wish for the teachers I work with- I want them to not be afraid of technology. I want them to see how technology is the way that we can provide equal opportunities for our students. I want them to know that they can’t “break it”!

What is your dream vacation?
My dream vacation is a safari, which I got to experience for my honeymoon two years ago. I would go again!

Anything else you want to add about yourself?
I work with an awesome team of instructional technology resource teachers!


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

Featured Teacher:
Kristen Jones

October 31st, 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 Kristen Jones, she’s been an educator for 15 years and is currently an Instructional Coach for Enid Public Schools. Kristen always wanted to be able to share her love for books with others, so she spent the first 8 years of her teaching career as a Reading Specialist. She sees herself as a ‘lifelong learner’ and loves to see growth in the students and teachers around her.


 

What grades have you taught?
K-3

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
I love to read, work puzzles, and travel.

How do you avoid burnout?
I avoid burnout by traveling and spending time with my family.

What keeps you excited about teaching?
Seeing growth in students and teachers keeps me excited about teaching. I’m a lifelong learner, so I like to learn about new strategies and then try them out in classrooms.

Why did you start teaching?
I’ve always been an avid reader and I wanted to be in a profession where I could share my love of books with others, so I became a reading specialist.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Don’t ask anyone to do something that you yourself are not willing to do.

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
My walk-on song would be “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys.

What is your favorite book on education?
There are too many to choose from! Unlocking Literacy by Marcia Henry is a really good one.

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
Grant yourself grace. You won’t get everything right your first year, and that’s okay. Everyone has room to grow!

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
I would probably be a librarian so that I could be around books.

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
The most memorable moment in my career so far was when I made the transition from teaching students to being an instructional coach. I now get to visit many classrooms and support the great work that teachers are doing.

What is your favorite quote?
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
One of my goals for this school year is to further data conversations in my district. Whether that’s from the assessment side — making sure our assessments measure what we’re aiming for, or it’s on the results side — analyzing data to plan future instruction. Data is a powerful tool that should be maximized and leveraged to show students’ success.

What is your favorite MC Feature?
My favorite MasteryConnect feature is the district item bank. We’ve worked throughout this last year to establish an item bank specific to our state standards and the options there are endless!

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
I want my students to leave my classroom knowing they are a valued contributor to our school. I strive to do the same thing with teachers. I want the teachers in my district to know they are valued contributors to our school district.

What is your dream vacation?
I would love to visit Alaska!

Anything else you want to add about yourself?
I am blessed to come to work and do a job that I love every day. I work with and for amazing educators who encourage and challenge me to be the best version of me.


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

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!