When I started Four O’Clock Faculty earlier this year, I wanted to be able to share what I have learned in my years as an educator, as well as share the work of other educators who inspire me. Melissa Morris is one of those educators. She recently shared her thought process for writing a blog as an educator, explaining that “We will figure it out together.” It truly captures the collaborative nature that makes all of us better. Click here to read the post. #WWFIOT
We are honored to have Melissa share with us this week!
5 Questions with… Melissa Morris
- What do you most want your students to take with them from your classroom, school or district?
What I always hope the most is that my students will walk away from our work together with a strong sense of self. I’ve found that building up confidence in the learner must come before any specific skill or convention can be taught. Empowering students to believe in their own ideas enough to put those ideas out there for the world (or even other classmates or just their teacher) to read, is no small feat. Once students have a sense of who they are, they can accomplish anything they set out to do.
- What are the most rewarding and/or the most frustrating aspects of education?
It can be both rewarding and frustrating that many things we want our students to know and do cannot actually be taught; they must be discovered and learned through experience. As a teacher of writing, for example, my goal is never to teach students how to simply follow the rules and conventions of writing, but to give students opportunities to explore the processes through which they gather and express their ideas best. For me, when a student first realizes that he or she has what we call “voice” as a writer, it is a great day! When a student realizes that he or she has a unique voice to bring into the world, it is a pivotal moment for that student, and I have always found it to be one of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher.
- What advice would you give to young teachers?
Never stop learning. Learn early in your career that you have a lot to learn and it takes time. Soak up all the wisdom and experience that other teachers offer to you. Ask lots of questions. Asking questions doesn’t make you look unintelligent; quite the opposite is true, actually. Visit as many other teachers while they are teaching as you can. Look around at how they organize their space, watch how they manage their class, get a sense of someone else’s style. You may incorporate some of what you learn into your own room, or maybe you won’t. Learning from your colleagues is the best way to improve your own craft.
- What has influenced your career the most?
Writers and my strong appreciation for the craft of writing. Every writer we ever read is a teacher and influences our lives in some way. I’ve always designed my lessons so that my students not only learn how to write, but they become writers themselves.
- As an educator, what are you currently focused on?
Currently, I am most focused on ideas, where we find them and what we do with them. I’m excited to start new graduate program in the fall, studying innovation and creativity. My work will focus on why and where ideas originate, and what we can do with all of this innovative thinking that is taking place in the field of education. I’m especially interested in ideas that emerge from collective and collaborative thought and the many factors that go into shaping an idea.
Melissa Morris has been an educator since 2005. She is currently a Teacher Resource Specialist for Technology and Instruction, working with classroom teachers to integrate technology into instruction in meaningful and relevant ways. She is a proponent of the growth mindset and innovative practices.
Melissa is also a former special education and language arts teacher. She has a BA in English from Rutgers University and a MA in Inclusive Education from Georgian Court University. Currently, she is studying Innovation and Creativity at Drexel University. In addition to teaching children, Melissa has dedicated much of her career to the professional development of her peers and colleagues as well. She is highly qualified in English, Science, Math, and Social Studies. She holds a Supervisor certificate as well as certificates of instruction in Elementary Education, Teacher of Students with Disabilities, and Literacy/Language Arts.