Episode 011: Interview with Melissa Meek

Melissa Meek is a 18-year veteran teacher. During that time she has served Tulakes Elementary in Putnam City Schools as a fourth and fifth grade teacher. She has helped implement a sports program for students, ran the after school program, was Teacher of the Year, and has served as mentor teacher to many new educators.

Melissa is great at so many things but she is the best at building relationships with her students and their families. She uses every opportunity of her day to build up and encourage her students. She works side-by-side with her parents to increase student success. Melissa is an incredible teacher!

Below are the questions I prepared to ask Melissa (there were some follow up questions in the podcast that are not included below):

  1. Tell me about your background in education.
  2. Why do you believe it is important to build relationships with students? Parents?
  3. What steps do you take to build a relationship with a new student or family?
  4. What are the most important things to remember about building relationships with the families you serve?
  5. Have you ever had a difficult time building a relationship with a student or parent? What did you do?
  6. How has building a relationship with a student or parent changed the way you interacted with that student or parent?
  7. How has building relationships with your students transformed you classroom? How has building relationships with your students’ parents transformed your classroom?
  8. What tips do you have for building relationships with students? with parents?
  9. What books (resources) have inspired you as you have built relationships with students and parents?
  10. What advice do you have for new teachers who are struggling to develop relationships with the families that they serve?

Episode 010: Interview with Stephanie Hime

Stephanie Hime is the Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction in Clinton Public Schools. Within her role she is also the EL (English Learners) Facilitator for her district, which according to their website, 30% of students are classified as EL students. Recently Stephanie moderated a Twitter chat on the topic which challenged me to learn more about my own district and how we are serving our English learners. You can find Stephanie on Twitter @MrsHime or Pinterest.

Teaching students whose native language is not English in schools where the target language is English can be difficult. Students who fall into the category of English Learners (EL) spend much of their school day translating learned content into their native language and then translating information back into English in order to answer questions and engage in discussions. Many teachers that they don’t have the confidence to meet their EL students’ needs.

Below are the questions I prepared to ask Stephanie (there were some follow up questions in the podcast that are not included below):

  1. Share about your background/experience in education.
  2. Explain the work you do in your district for English Learners.
  3. What are the stages of language development learning another language?
  4. Why is it important for teachers to know and understand the progression of language development?
  5. What are the main obstacles teachers come across when teaching English Learners?
  6. What are the main struggles for students who are English Learners in the classroom?
  7. What strategies should teachers implement to support English Learners in the classroom?
  8. What interventions are most effective for teachers to use when working with English Learners?
  9. What should teachers remember when communicating with parents of English Learners?
  10. What are some resources that you direct teachers to?
  11. What other advice do you have for teachers?

Episode 009: Interview with Andrew Rose

Andrew Rose in an ELL Instructional Facilitator in the OKCPS district with a background as a high school World History and English teacher. He works with teachers in specific schools through professional development and in Professional Learning Communities on ways to support English Language Learners.

For my interview with Andrew, we spoke specifically about Newcomers. Newcomers are English Language Learners (ELL) who have recently arrived to the United States. They may be in Kindergarten or 10th grade. The focus on teaching Newcomers has become an education hot topic – so much so the US government has created a resource for teachers to guide them through meeting the needs of students who fall into this category. Check it out here – Newcomers Toolkit.

Below are the questions I prepared to ask Andrew (there were some follow up questions in the podcast that are not included below):

  1. Share about your background/experience in education.
  2. Explain the work you do for OKCPS.
  3. When are students considered a newcomer and what does that term mean?
  4. What is the difference between the classification of a newcomer and the umbrella category of English language learning student?
  5. Why is it important for teachers to understand this difference? Should it impact the teaching strategies that they use?
  6. What are the main obstacles teachers come across when teaching students considered to be newcomers?
  7. What are the main struggles for students who are considered newcomers?
  8. What interventions are most effective for teachers to use when working with students considered to be newcomers?
  9. What recommendations do you have for teachers working with parents of newcomers?
  10. What are some resources that you direct teachers to?
  11. What other advice do you have for teachers?