Featured Teacher:
Nicole Menssen

October 12th, 2018



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.

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