Lights, camera, action! Where does the excitement of Hollywood meet rigorous Michigan academic standards? Right here in Studio 24 at Miami Elementary in Clinton Township, Michigan. My name is Brent and each year I pick a theme for the class. This year it is entertainment, and I am excited to share the yearlong production with you, from the opening number to the final curtain call.
As of fall 2010, I will have taught in the Chippewa Valley school district for six years. With more than 15,000 students, Chippewa Valley is one of the larger districts in the state. It is located in southeast Michigan, about twenty-five miles north of the nation’s struggling Motor City. With countries of origin ranging from Bangladesh to Poland and spoken languages from Albanian to Macedonian, Miami Elementary has a diverse population of approximately 400 students.
Before becoming a teacher, I worked in the medical field. I enjoyed what I did, but something was missing. Passion! Around that time, I happened to volunteer several weeks at a children’s cancer camp called Special Days. At camp I expanded my comfort zone and discovered my ability to connect with kids of all ages. After several summers of volunteering, I decided to go back to college to change my career.
One of the best gifts I ever received was from Dr. Evanski, a mentor who gave me permission to bring all the fun of camp into a classroom setting. This seemed crazy to me; when I was a student, desks were in rows and classrooms were places for quiet learning. Getting permission to have summer camp fun while teaching was a revelation, and it has produced unlimited possibilities for inspiring my students to learn.
As an educator, creating a supportive classroom and a cohesive team with drive, compassion, and a good work ethic is my ultimate goal. Forming this highly efficient team of lifelong learners is accomplished by paying attention to every detail in the environment, intentionally building rapport with students and parents, and modeling what is expected inside the classroom and beyond. I attribute my success to my R.E.M. philosophy of teaching — Rapport, Environment, and Modeling — which you will read more about as the year progresses.
I look forward to sharing Academy Award-worthy classroom activities as well as the behind-the-scenes magic and the blooper reel. After all, we learn best by reflecting upon our mistakes.
For now, that’s a wrap!