Welcome to Feature Friday! Where we showcase a new teacher each week in an interview. For past Feature Friday interviews, go here.
Today’s Feature Friday is highlighting Logan Nielsen, a 7th and 8th grade English teacher. She received her education at Utah Valley University and then taught for 8 years before eventually staying home to raise her family and become a different kind of teacher. Here’s what she has to say about teaching-
What is your favorite thing about teaching this age/subject?
“I taught junior high English for 8 years and absolutely loved it. People would always give me a look of either pity, amazement, or sympathy when they found out what grades I taught, but I would always respond by telling them how much I loved it and loved my students. One of my favorite things about teaching junior high was that the students are still so impressionable. They, for the most part, are very receptive to learning and are still young enough that they haven’t been jaded by the world. They are still kids at heart but are also turning into incredible young adults.”
What made you want to go into teaching?
“I chose to go into teaching because I had a passion for my content area. I loved all things reading and writing, so teaching English just made sense for me. I wanted to share that passion with young people and help them realize how amazing reading and writing could be.”
What is one of your favorite ways to utilize technology in the classroom?
“I had a smartboard in my classroom and loved to use that. I also frequently used Google Docs for assignments. We frequently did PowerPoint or other types of computer-based presentations. As cell phones became more popular among that age, I began to utilize their access to various apps for classroom instruction.”
If you could recommend one children’s book, what would it be and why?
“This is a tough question for me! There are so many great ones out there. For me, personally, I love anything by Shel Silverstein. He has an amazing way of teaching poignant lessons through silly poetry. Kids love it, and adults do as well.”
How have you seen education change in the years you’ve taught?
“I saw a shift in how students learn. Technology began to play a much larger role in my later years of teaching than it did in my earlier years. I also saw a change where students began to be more responsible for their learning. They were able to do more inquiry-based learning where they were in control of what they were doing.”
How do you use student voice in your classroom and what outcomes have you seen from it?
“I believe that student voice is absolutely crucial to a positive learning environment. Students do so much better if they have a say in what is going on. They love choice. As a time when they are faced with so many life changes, and often times are wanting to feel some independence, I believe that allowing their voices to be heard is extremely beneficial. I loved giving project options and letting them choose what they wanted to do. I loved free writing time, where students were able to tell me anything they wanted to. I loved getting them to think critically about issues that impact them or that they would have opinions on. I saw students blossom when given the chance to share their voice. It is truly one of the most magical things about teaching.”
What is your favorite unit you teach and why is it your favorite?
“With my 7th graders, my absolute favorite unit was teaching the novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I loved teaching it because, even though it was written in the 1960s, there was still so much that was relatable to teenagers today. It was always the one book I could count on every student enjoying and getting involved with. I mean, who doesn’t love Ponyboy?!”
“With my 8th graders, my favorite unit to teach was the novel The Giver by Lois Lowry. It became my favorite because, again, there are many things that are relatable in it. It has so many topics and issues that are excellent discussion starters. It’s amazing how deeply 14-year-olds feel about certain issues, and I loved seeing them come to life when we would discuss the issues present in the novel.”
Thanks for the great insight, Logan! What a fun Feature Friday we had this week! Next week we get to hear from a second grade teacher with an excellent book list to share with us, come on back to hear what she has to say!