Episode 59: Amanda Miliner, 2015 Georgia Teacher of the Year

June 17, 2015
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Amanda is an elementary teacher in Houston County, Georgia who was recognized as the 2015 Georgia Teacher of the Year. In 2006 she was Miss Georgia and competed for the title of Miss America.

This last year she spent time in schools model teaching, presenting, co-teaching and talking with various organizations across the state. She also traveled to Washington, DC where she met the President, twice.

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She sees herself as a self-made person. She knows how important education is. She likes to explain to kids that she came from a single parent home but that she has not let that interfere with her life journey. She is a first generation college graduate in her family and now she is working on her doctorate.  She emphasizes to kids that she wanted something better for herself.

Amanda has a no excuses mentality in the classroom. She expects the kids to work hard and not ask for handouts.

She comments that she didn’t start out wanting to be a teacher, but explains how the desire to teach rose to the top.

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Listen closely as she talks about the teacher who hooked her into wanting to be a teacher because she had a classroom that was like an educational theme park!

We talk about what her ideal classroom would look like as well as what her favorite resources are.

She describes herself as being orange not blue and how that impacts her teaching and her interactions with the kids.

She will challenge you to think about how you see and work with the kids.

Catch up with Amanda on Twitter @gatoty2015

Amanda mentioned these resources:

Kidblog

iMovie

Length: 30:36

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Episode 42: First Year Teaching with Mrs. Melanie Knight

January 8, 2015

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Mrs. Melanie Knight is a first year middle school teacher at Wheeler County Middle School, in Alamo, Georgia. She is a graduate of Brewton Parker College’s education program and teaching is in her family tree. She is the daughter of teachers; her father was also a superintendent of Wheeler County Schools as well as her grandfather.


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As of the interview, Mrs. Knight is in the middle of her first year of teaching.  She uses many instructional strategies, small groups, individual practice, integrated technology, word walls, and other techniques to help the kids get the content. When I asked her where she learned to use these she credited other staff in her school as important mentors.


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I had the great fortune of watching her teach. Not only does she have good command of many strong instructional strategies but she also emphasizes a need to develop the students’ understanding of content and academic vocabulary. She uses TIPS (Terms Information Pictures and Sentences)…this is an adaption of something she learned from Learning in the Fast Lane by Suzy Pepper Rollins and what she has been taught by other staff members to develop the students’ understanding of vocabulary. 


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Mrs. Knight emphasizes the need to create engagement. It is quite noticeable as the kids are up and working and part of the class. They are not passive, but active.


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 She also has developed an excellent rapport with the kids. She commented, “I’m strict but friendly.” When you walk in her class you are automatically aware that it is a bright and cheerful place to be. She noted, “I use bright colors to help me create a welcoming classroom.”


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When I asked her what has been most helpful for her during her first year in teaching she responded, “Help and support from the school staff and family members.” She continued, “It is helpful to have someone to talk to…to talk things out.”


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She is a big fan of Pinterest and finds that the social media tool is a great help for getting ideas and support for working with the kids.


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I asked her what advice she would give to someone who is getting ready to find their first teaching position and she replied, “Be open to new ideas…Be open to learning…learn from everyone around you.”


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Mrs. Knight’s energy and focus on the kids is wonderful!

Enjoy!

Length 29:28

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