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September 2, 2011

Greetings From Top Teaching Advisor Brent

By Brent Vasicek

    Where does the excitement of a sea voyage meet rigorous academic standards? Right here in Pier 24 at Miami Elementary in Clinton Township, Michigan. My name is Brent, and each year I pick a theme for the class. This year it is exploration. From the bon voyage to the final docking, I am excited to share management and organization tips for the yearlong journey.

     
    I have taught in the Chippewa Valley school district for seven years. With more than 15,000 students, Chippewa Valley is one of the larger districts in the state. It is located in southeast Michigan, about twenty-five miles north of the nation’s struggling Motor City. With countries of origin ranging from Bangladesh to Poland and spoken languages from Albanian to Macedonian, Miami Elementary's population of approximately 400 students is truly diverse.

    Before becoming an elementary school and college teacher, I worked in the medical field. I enjoyed what I did, but realized that something was missing. Passion! Around that time, I happened to volunteer several weeks at a children’s cancer camp called Special Days. At camp I expanded my comfort zone and discovered my ability to connect with kids of all ages. After several summers of volunteering, I decided to go back to college to change my career.

    One of the best gifts I ever received was from my mentor Dr. Evanski. He gave me permission to bring all the fun of camp into a classroom setting. This seemed crazy to me; after all, when I was a student, desks were in rows and classrooms were places for quiet learning. Getting permission to have summer camp fun while teaching was a revelation, and it has produced unlimited possibilities for inspiring my students to learn. This year I hope to share some of the ways I manage and organize the classroom to create maximum engagement and efficiency in learning.

    Last year I shared many of my favorite ideas and lessons with Scholastic readers in the Classroom Advisor blog. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue sharing as part of the Scholastic Top Teaching Team.

    Let’s set sail,
    Brent

    Where does the excitement of a sea voyage meet rigorous academic standards? Right here in Pier 24 at Miami Elementary in Clinton Township, Michigan. My name is Brent, and each year I pick a theme for the class. This year it is exploration. From the bon voyage to the final docking, I am excited to share management and organization tips for the yearlong journey.

     
    I have taught in the Chippewa Valley school district for seven years. With more than 15,000 students, Chippewa Valley is one of the larger districts in the state. It is located in southeast Michigan, about twenty-five miles north of the nation’s struggling Motor City. With countries of origin ranging from Bangladesh to Poland and spoken languages from Albanian to Macedonian, Miami Elementary's population of approximately 400 students is truly diverse.

    Before becoming an elementary school and college teacher, I worked in the medical field. I enjoyed what I did, but realized that something was missing. Passion! Around that time, I happened to volunteer several weeks at a children’s cancer camp called Special Days. At camp I expanded my comfort zone and discovered my ability to connect with kids of all ages. After several summers of volunteering, I decided to go back to college to change my career.

    One of the best gifts I ever received was from my mentor Dr. Evanski. He gave me permission to bring all the fun of camp into a classroom setting. This seemed crazy to me; after all, when I was a student, desks were in rows and classrooms were places for quiet learning. Getting permission to have summer camp fun while teaching was a revelation, and it has produced unlimited possibilities for inspiring my students to learn. This year I hope to share some of the ways I manage and organize the classroom to create maximum engagement and efficiency in learning.

    Last year I shared many of my favorite ideas and lessons with Scholastic readers in the Classroom Advisor blog. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue sharing as part of the Scholastic Top Teaching Team.

    Let’s set sail,
    Brent

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