By Jackie Derr, TAG member, Perrysburg Junior High School, Perrysburg, OH
I became a teacher because I want to make a positive impact on the lives of my students just like my dad did as a teacher, and like so many of my former teachers did for me. The school setting allows me to be a role model, share life lessons beyond the classroom, be someone’s cheerleader, make someone’s lightbulb shine, and help ideas become reality. I know kids come from so many different backgrounds and home environments, which makes it rewarding to be able to help every student achieve success and learn about respect, anti-bullying, teamwork, and communication skills.
As an Internet surfer, I've found quite a bit of useful information from Edutopia.org, Code.org, and of course Pitsco.com. I also follow EdTech K-12 Magazine, Teaching STEM, and Teacher2Teacher on Twitter – these are great resources for gathering extra support and ideas for your classroom lessons.
Two of my favorite real life specific resources on Twitter that I visit frequently are Kid President and Coaching Your Kids. They provide me with teachable moments and also remind me of our greatest gifts as teachers. For example: Kid President has a video called “How to Disagree without Making Everybody Feel Terrible.” What a great way to teach our students a lesson in a fun way – everybody loves Kid President! Coaching Your Kids recently tweeted “A team culture is not built from words on a single day. It’s built from actions over time. What does it mean to be a part of YOUR team?” This reminded me that I want my team (classroom) to be a warm, caring, a welcoming place, and I need my words to represent that so my kids know I care about them.
Over time, I've had to implement solutions to common issues in my classroom. One issue is we lose track of time when the kids and I get engrossed in Modules and class units because we’re having so much fun learning! My solution to this issue is I now set an alarm on my phone to keep us on track. Another issue I came across was my students would forget/refuse to review the Module sessions at home (for homework). I now have them complete the vocabulary sheet or have them create a Quizlet review so they are physically doing something besides reviewing on their own.
The additional resources available by becoming a part of Pitsco's Teacher Advisory Group (TAG) have been great! This has been an amazing group of educators sharing ideas to not only help our students achieve success, but to be able to help us individually become better teachers, which is outstanding! I also think it’s pretty cool and admirable being able to help Pitsco with their products while gaining additional information from their talented team members and educators from across the country – it’s a win-win situation for all of us!
This also gives me an opportunity to present at a national conference with the help of Pitsco, which is going to make my presentation more professional and interesting!
Here’s the story as to why I like Pitsco products so much. I was an honor student in high school, but I had to work harder than most because I don't learn well by reading from a book. Which means I really struggled in college and almost dropped out (in fact, I did give up for 1-1/2 years until a friend got me to go back)! I'm one that learns by listening, seeing, and doing hands-on activities – so when I met Harvey Dean, Pitsco’s CEO, at my training session and he explained how Pitsco was started, I knew I chose the right product!
My students are successful in my Pitsco STEM lab largely because of the differentiated instruction that happens with every Module and class unit that I teach. Not only do my students enjoy the class – they have fun, learn the material, learn life lessons, and enhance their skills across the curriculum without realizing it! My students are achieving success in areas they previously struggled in thanks to the way I’m able to present the material using the Pitsco products.