Erin Klein. Erin has a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. She has worked in the public school system and private school system. Currently, she is living in SouthEast Michigan, and has a seven year old daughter and a four year old son. In addition to being published in Edudemic magazine, she also has written for Edutopia, Edudemic, Really Good Stuff, Teaching Blog Addict, Classroom Freebies and TeacherCast. She is also the co-author of an education book to be published this summer. In addition to being an elementary teacher, Erin also serves as the state’s co-Technology chair for the Michigan Reading Association and a member of The National Writing Project. She is also a SMART Technologies Exemplary Educator and an organizer for The EdCamp Detroit Organization. Please visit her award-winning blog at: Kleinspiration.com. You can follow her on Twitter @KleinErin.
What is your educational background?
I began my college career as an interior design major. While at Michigan State University, I was about eighteen credits shy of completing my program; however, when my husband and I found that we were expecting, I found it a perfect time to reflect on my long-term goals. I decided to change my program and start coursework geared towards education. After my daughter, Riley, was born, I knew that I wanted to be the type of teacher I’d like for her to one day have.
I completed my undergraduate degree and immediately got a job teaching first grade. The following year, I was transferred to the middle school where I worked doing literacy intervention work with sixth and seventh grade students for a Title I school. I also completed my Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. During this time, I traveled the country attending professional development workshops to strengthen my knowledge in the area of Response to Intervention. I had the opportunity to co-teach the next year at the middle school level. This was an enriching experience full of personal and professional growth.
The next year, I decided to return to the elementary level and joined the private school sector. I now teach second grade to a fabulous group of students. I’m fortunate to be a part of an amazing community of professionals, parents, and students.
What is one of your favorite things about teaching?
I really enjoy being able to guide students to independent discovery. When I reflect on successful moments within my own experiences, they almost always stem from a project: something that was created, constructed, developed, or discussed. When higher level thinking and collaboration is involved, the task complexity is enhanced and the challenge becomes something you’re more likely to remember. In my opinion, learning isn’t about memorizing and mastering the test… it’s about making mistakes, justifying your rationale, sparking your creativity, borrowing ideas and extending upon them, seeing the abstract become tangible, and celebrating your work with a team. When I see their faces light up, I feel fulfilled knowing they believe in themselves as a learner and as a person. Gaining confidence is so important for a child.
What books/resources have shaped you or would you recommend to other teachers?
Honestly, I really enjoy reading educational blogs that other teachers share. I also try to stay current by reading daily news articles published surrounding topics in education. Because I’ve been a student most of my life, I find that research journals help to shape my instructional practices as well. I’m a firm believer in having my pedagogy rooted in evidence based practices.
With that being stated, the following are a few of my favorite books that have helped to shape who I am as a teacher:
- There are no Shortcuts by Rafe Esquith
- Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
- The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
- I Read It, but I Don’t Get It by Cris Tovani
- In the Middle by Nancie Atwel
- Drive by Daniel Pink
- anything by Robert Marzano and Eric Jensen or Alfie Kohn
- TED Talks
What aspect of education are you most passionate about today?
I am very passionate about educational technology. While in college, I managed a business for a number of years. For this corporation, I developed all of their training materials. I traveled to new locations and facilitated the launch of new openings. This process from hiring, training, and developing materials helped to solidify my passion for education. It was easy for me to work with the adults I coached. I had a lot of time to shape the manner in which I dealt with different individuals and personalities. This practice opened my eyes to a style of management that proved to be quite effective: facilitation. I enjoyed presenting the framework and then observing the collaboration of the staff. Their collective creativity brought a heightened sense of quality to the company. I quickly learned that they were much more invested in their position by the ownership they had in their ideas. Therefore, I absolutely believe that my role in business helps (even today) the role I play in the classroom. Regarding technology… it’s simple: if the tool fits – use it. There are days where my students are so very invested in technology, (even as second graders) and there are days where we simply create using our hands and collaborate with each other. I believe balance is the key. It’s important to integrate technology not because ‘it’s the way of this generation’ but because it is effective and streamlines instruction. As the famous quote goes… “The more ways you teach, the more students you reach.” Because technology is engaging and offers platforms to differentiate, when used appropriately, it truly can impact learning in a positive manner.
What is a favorite inspirational quote that encourages you to teach with intention?
“Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
What advice would you give a younger teacher?
Being a new teacher is one of the most precious times of your life. There will be hugs, tears, and smiles. Always be true to yourself and honest with others. Stay current on best-practices and always keep strong pedagogy in mind. Remember that technology is not about bells and whistles but rather a tool to enhance the learning objective. Remember to stay organized and do not become overwhelmed with the ‘little stuff.’ Enjoy every moment and stay grounded in your purpose for your profession.