Check out some of our top Outschool teachers!
These teachers embody our five teaching principles by making learning fun, leading with empathy, encouraging interaction, coming to class prepared, and creating personalized learning experiences for their learners!
This month's spotlight selections centered on teachers who demonstrated our principles while embracing cultural and global awarenss.
✮ Make Learning Fun ✮
Merium Khan - I go by different names—Ms. Khan, but also “The Shakespeare Whisperer,” and, “the teacher who magically makes my kid look forward to writing.” Perhaps it is because I approach these subjects with a creative and passionate eye—teaching Shakespeare through insults and language detective work, and writing through imitating great authors. Or perhaps it is because my love and excitement for the written word is so contagious that everyone gets caught up in the magic of playing with words that are woven like tapestries of sound and language. There are no gimmicks to my teaching approach: I just genuinely enjoy beautiful language and manage to pass it on by pulling back the curtain from the mysteries of the language and having my students join me on the vast stage of the world’s greatest authors. Soon, they discover that they can unlock those mysteries themselves, and before you know it, you have a little Shakespeare lover on your hand, or an author penning incredibly intricate sentences. My name is Merium Khan, and I am The Lit Teacher.
Arden Ashley-Wurtmann - I don’t intentionally set out to make my classes “fun” in a traditional sense, but I do place a specific focus on inquiry and problem-solving using physical and visual materials and I find that that helps with student engagement. Using manipulatives has been shown to improve learners’ confidence and comfort with math, so I think that naturally leads to a sense of fun — especially for kids who are used to only seeing math in the abstract. As a child I was math-avoidant. It wasn’t until grad school that I came to appreciate and even love it. As a math teacher, I am so happy to share that joy with my learners and be part of their math journey.
✮ Lead With Empathy ✮
Yvette McDonnell - I lead with empathy in every class I teach. Being an empath allows me to connect deeply with people. This leadership quality assists with seeing varied perspectives and the ability to engage others in hard to discuss topics. I want each and every student who takes classes with me to feel connected in class and to the class material. I want them to know that their thoughts and ideas matter. Most importantly, I do my best to create safe spaces for all students to have their thoughts, opinions, and concerns held without judgment. I teach American History from a decolonized perspective that focuses on African Americans, Beginner Portuguese, and a Belly Dance Cultural Appreciation Class.
Ann Gior - I joined Outschool in June and I’ve created this course because I think the world needs more teachers, teaching things we love. I believe that leading with empathy establishes a culture of inclusion and support. Being present, being prepared is a show of respect to those around me. Each lesson in this collection is based on my student’s learning styles, preferences, ages, and experience levels. And from my deep conviction that education doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. It should be simple, warm, inclusive and intuitive… Is the topic relevant for them? for the world? Is it fun? Is it safe? Are they feeling encouraged? Are they being heard?
Daniela - I embody the principle, "Leads with Empathy" by making a personal connection to the classes I teach and therefore empowering girls and boys by igniting the passion by first making a personal connection with the topic themselves. Any two teachers can teach the exact same class, but it's the empathy principle that would make both teachers stand out in their own and unique ways. I always try to find a personal connection from each student in my class because that in turn, allows them to feel more comfortable and explore their passion and learning in a different way. We all like to feel welcome, but a teacher to student connection is what truly ignites this passion of learning even more. We find a sense of belonging through learning and empathy.
✮ Encourage Interaction ✮
Katie Fallon - I encourage interaction by allowing the learners to work together on problems. We use the whiteboard often, and the learners can annotate and complete the problem together. Learners are also encouraged to communicate verbally and work through the problems together. I try to open up class a few minutes early so the learners can chat before class begins, to discuss anything interesting. That gets us warmed up and ready to work together as a group. At certain points in class, we also do group answering. If I ask a question, anyone is welcome to respond, and the students will listen to each other and build off of their answers in steps. I also encourage the learners to discuss homework questions together outside of class hours on the class homework posts. I create real life problems involving the learners and their lives, such as adding the number of pets together, or subtracting the difference in ages.
✮ Come Prepared ✮
Katherine Causbie - Being organized about how I prepare for classes helps me to focus on what's important during the class meeting: how the learners are thinking about and responding to the ideas we're exploring! For my multi-week classes, I made a printed roster for each section and I have it in front of me every meeting. I track attendance, as well as notes about learning styles or troubleshooting questions that I need to follow up on. I plan my semester out on a color-coded spreadsheet, and "block" my time into specific windows for classes, which helps ensure my daily schedule allows me the prep time I need before each class meeting. The automatic classroom welcome post can help set the lesson up for success by asking for info that will ensure learners know what materials they need, provide details about their specific equipment, or share a sense of their past experience with the subject. Planning ahead and preparing for class strategically helps me stay calm, adaptive, and focused on the group while I teach, which is a key to working with students from all over the world, and coming from a wide range of learning styles!
Anna Klinman - I have learned over the years, as a student and as a teacher, that I feel anxious when I feel unprepared. I spend more time preparing to teach a class than I do actually teaching it. I heard a quote last year from Nancy Pelosi that really resonated for me, "Don't agonize- organize." I have this quote on a card above my teaching space. I think the more organized and prepared I am, the more my students and their families will be. It helps me to come to each class relaxed and ready. Students appreciate my consistency. They know what to expect from me and my classes. Families know they can depend on me and my classes. Doing what I love, teaching on Outschool, is easy and fun when I feel prepared.
Lisa Albinus - I take it very seriously when a parent trusts me with their children's art education. I want to deliver quality instruction that is jam-packed with useful information to help young artist's feel encouraged and empowered. I want to excite the creative mind, while placing necessary tools in their hands. How can you do this in under an hour? With careful thought and planning. In my class description, I clearly lay out the expectations of our class and what can be done before class begins. For most classes I have provided files, pictures and pre-class work that will help the class run smoothly. I reach out to all students before class and remind them what needs to be done before class. I always enter class 5 minutes early to help students that don't know how to upload the files and I stay after class - as long as my student's need to feel accomplished. I love that we are asked into student's homes and trusted with educating through our individual passions. My goal is to offer high quality, content rich material to every student I am lucky enough to teach!
✮ Make it Personalized ✮
Mrs. Liisi Carr - Making each class we teach personalized to the students is really important to them, to their parents, but it should also be important to us as their teachers. Now when I'm teaching 15-30 kids in a public in person setting that can seem impossibly daunting; and so it seems like a class of 6 kids or less is super easy to be more personalized, regardless, it is plausible no matter what setting you are teaching in. I offer birthday party classes, where I personalize the background behind me (my wall) to each birthday child's desires. I customize the whole class experience to that child, and even put them in charge to some small degree. With my live classes I do mostly ongoing style classes, allowing me to really build a relationship with each student even if they only come once. They get to talk to me either before or after the lesson time, they share things they like, and when we're doing the lesson, each child gets personalized comments and help from me. My flex classes are a gateway of easy personalization, because even if I have 18 students each gets that one-on-one feeling from me as the teacher to each of them. Their individual names get mentioned in the classroom posts, they get to share more than just their project with the class and I respond in personalized video clips or messages, with fun creative ways. When we think about making each student feel our love, the other elements and principles we envelope as teachers come into play.
Meagan Tauber - One of my primary goals as an educator is to inspire confidence and provide support to each young learner as an individual. My very first class on Outschool (and ironically still my most popular class!), Beautiful Buttercream, is a cake decorating class on the surface. And we do create some beautiful cakes together in class! However, the greater goals of class are about building confident bakers, tapping into their creative vision, and supporting them through any challenges that may arise during the process. Over the years my class line-up has expanded to include many more confectionary arts classes and social studies classes, but the focus on each learner as an individual remains. All perspectives, communication styles, and ideas are always welcome. I hope I have the opportunity to share class time with your learner in the future! We learn a lot and have tons of fun in the process!
Do you embody our principles?
Nominate yourself or a colleague for a spotlight!
Next month's spotlight selections will center on improved class ratings.