Feature Friday: Emma Mecham

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 Emma Mecham. She is a past professor of mine at Utah State University that I grew to love while taking her course. Her dedication to student relationships and really shining light to pre-service teachers of what they are in for in becoming an educator stood out to me. I could go on and on at how great an influence she was to me, but maybe that should be saved for a different blog post! Here is what Emma has for us today.

What grade/ subjects have you taught and for how long? 

“I’m currently a teacher educator, working with undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. I’ve been at USU for just over a decade now and really cherish my opportunity to work with future and current teachers and administrators. I certainly learn as much from them as they can from me. I’ve previously worked in elementary schools with younger, but no less valuable mentors, from Utah to India to Peru. My favorite grade to teach was third grade – it’s that sweet spot where kids don’t yet know I’m not cool but also have an increasingly complex curriculum. However, I’ve spent a fair amount of time working with preschoolers and kindergartners (and some extraordinary early childhood educators) in the past ten years, and their intellectual and social curiosity delights me. “

If you could recommend one children’s book, what would it be and why? 

“There are so many wonderful children’s books, I couldn’t possibly choose just one – and it is, of course, dependent on age and reading ability. One of the really exciting changes I’ve seen during my career is the creativity in early reader books – Mo Willems comes to mind, but so do Sandra Boynton and Jon Klassen. The wit and artistry of those beginning reading books are wonderful.”

How have you seen education change in the years you’ve taught?

“Education has changed a great deal during my career thus far, with the effects of federal programs like NCLB, RTT, and ESSA and the growth of the school choice movement. There was a time during the most exacting years of NCLB when I wondered if I was doing my students a disservice by encouraging them to be teachers – teacher morale was very low, with good reason. However, there are a lot of really hopeful things happening in schools right now, and the graduate students I work with are leading fantastic innovations and finding ways to stretch the systems they work in to allow for greater excellence.”

Who influenced you most to choose a career education? 

“I suppose my interest in becoming a teacher was influenced by a whole group of wonderful educators, but probably foremost my mother. My mother taught (and continues to teach as a volunteer, well into her retirement) English Language Learners of all ages. Her love of her students and her passion for solving problems of equity in her community were daily lessons of the joys and value of teaching to me. I was also influenced by wonderful teachers in my own education – men and women who treated their students with respect and admiration, who got us outside into wild spaces and cultural spaces we hadn’t previously explored, who were curious and optimistic, and singularly individual. A few of those folks to come to mind straight away – Kaye Rheese, Dorthy Dobson, John Bedingfield, Nan Wharton, and Blake Pickett – remarkable teachers, all of them.” 

What are the benefits you’ve seen in collaborating with other teachers? 

“I learn so much from my colleagues. Collaboration keeps me humble, excited, learning new methods and ways of seeing and practicing. And I find that is true not just among my University faculty colleagues, but with my elementary and secondary colleagues, parents, and community partners. There are a lot of people who know things I don’t and who are generous in their willingness to share.”

How do you use student voice in your classroom and what outcomes have you seen from it? 

“One of my objectives as a teacher is to be sure that I am doing less talking than my students are. I try to provide as many opportunities for students to discuss ideas and demonstrate their understanding in groups as much as possible. Additionally, I give students choice in assessments and learning opportunities.”

What advice do you have for pre-service teachers? 

“Choosing to be a teacher is choosing a complex, difficult job. It is immensely rewarding, but you should prepare yourself for some exhausting days and a steep learning curve. It is also one of the most profound ways to make the world better. It’s not that I’m trying to scare pre-service teachers away, but I do want them to have clarity about the choice they are making before they commit to it. The high rate of teachers who leave the profession within the first five years is very costly and I believe we could improve that if pre-service teachers understood the profession better before they invested four years of college.” 

How do you create valuable student relationships and why is it important to do as an educator? 

“Many years ago when he was in graduate school, my older brother was given some wise advice by a mentor, that he passed on to me: “You can become a lawyer, but you’ll spend the rest of your life with tired middle-aged people. Or you can become a college professor and send the rest of your life with excited young adults.” And not only do I get to spend my days being taught and energized by young people, but the students I have are also passionate, nurturing, and committed to good. They are really easy to like and I think they can tell how much I do.”


I hope Emma was able to have at least the tiniest of influence on your life through this interview because she truly is a person I wish everyone had the opportunity to meet and build a relationship with. Thank you for taking the time to read a little slice of her knowledge! 

Enneagram In Education: Type 1

Enneagram type 1, the perfectionist or the reformer. 

A few words to describe this type: 

Striving for more. 
High integrity. 
Idealist. 
Ethical. 
Inspiring. 
Never flexible. 
Responsible. 

Let’s pull this into a classroom setting. If you’re an enneagram type one, you are typically self driven. You’re the kid in the front of the classroom taking avid notes on everything the teacher says. The motivation behind a type one student is to be correct and have all of the right answers. 

How to get the most out of your education as a type one. 

  • Learn in a logical, strategic way. 
  • Know the step by step process to assignments and classroom structure in general. 
  • If possible, in group work settings, don’t choose friends, choose those that you know will work hard and get the job done to the same level of perfection as you. 
  • Keep a planner and update it often. 
  • If your teacher isn’t challenging you enough, challenge yourself. 
  • Keep as organized as possible.

“Dissatisfied with reality, they become high-minded idealists, feeling that it is up to them to improve everything: crusaders, advocates, critics. Into “causes” and explaining to others how things “ought” to be.”

– The Enneagram Institute 

Type 1’s go to type 7 in growth, and type 4 in stress. 

Are you a type 1? What is important for you to have a successful learning environment? 

Cover photo: The Enneagram Institute 

An Open Letter To The Students Of 2020

Dear Students of 2020, 

Here you are! You are stepping into a world where no one has gone before. You are attempting to continue your education during a global pandemic. Someday your kids and grandkids are going to read about you in history books. 

They are going to read about your Chromebooks and iPads sent home to you from your schools for virtual learning. 

The face mask mandates in the districts and the creative face shields to replace masks.

They are going to see pictures of desks 6 feet apart and hanging sheets of clear plastic hung strategically throughout the school. 

Books and articles will talk about hybrid learning at home part-time, and at school for the rest of the time. 

It will highlight the stress of teachers, parents, and the stress of you as the student. 

You are being asked to learn on platforms that are still developing instead of classrooms that have been established for centuries. 

We are asking you to rise up and take a step into the darkness. The darkness of the unknown for our future. The unknown of when “normal” school full of chatting friends sitting nearby, tag at recess, and less than 6 feet apart for group work, will resume. 

It’s hard, and it’s scary, and you are the pioneers for this. Your feedback on Zoom meetings, Google Classroom assignments, and in-person lectures with adapted seating will drive our school system to success as teachers, administration, and parents navigate and troubleshoot this new layout of education. 

To the students of the 2020-2021 school year, our future is in your hands more than it has ever been in student’s hands before. And we trust you. Together, we can make it through and create a better world for those to come. 

You’ve got this. 

Feature Friday: Faige Meller

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 Faige Meller. Faige is an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, CA. She started teaching preschool in 1977, and Kindergarten in 1991. In 2015, Faige retried and has substitute taught since. Faige is a seasoned teacher and is sharing just a tiny fragment of her knowledge with us today! Here’s what she has to say. 

What is your favorite part of teaching kindergarten? 

“I really feel this was the place I was meant to be! A grade that lends itself to play, exploration, and wonder. In this, we combined read aloud, math, literacy growth, science, movement, and play! I guess I said play again. Play drove so much of the learning. SEL always a focus. And of course those hugs.”

How do you incorporate the arts into core curriculum? 

“Our thematic units readily integrated the arts. We look at STEAM now and that has always been part of our curriculum. The language may have been different, but not the meaning.” 

If you could recommend one children’s book, what would it be and why?

“So difficult to focus on one book. There are so many beautiful, poignant books out there. Today I’d say Each Kindness by Jaqueline Woodson. This story continues to resonate, especially now! It leads to incredibly rich discussions, conversations, and reflections. “Why did this happen? What can we have done differently? Would you be an Upstander? And many times words and actions have no redos!”

What do you wish someone would have told you in your first year of teaching?

“My first year of teaching was such a blur of worry. I was so worried about making mistakes. I wanted to be the best and make sure the kids, parents, and administrators liked me. I wish I was told to relax, enjoy the moment, watch, look, listen to the kids. Have fun, kids are resilient and so are you! And don’t volunteer for everything!” 

How have you seen education changed in your teaching experience? 

“There have been many changes. Some that supported my pedagogy and others that I questioned for this age group. But all changes were done with the thoughtful consideration to do what’s best for our students.” 

Wonder wall Kinders' wonders. We work on finding answers to our questions.

How do you use student voice in your classroom and what outcomes have you seen from it?

“Student voice was present on a daily basis, from “free choice” morning activities to opportunities for exploration during genius hour time and our Wonder Wall questions.

Kinders felt confident in sharing their wonders, finding ways to discover answers, and knowing their voice was important in our learning.” 

How is subbing different from being a teacher?

“As a substitute teacher, I knew I was there to support the teacher’s work with their students. I looked at it as an opportunity to learn alongside the students. The kinders knew me and that was a great inroad to establishing rapport and a relationship with the kinders.  And as I subbed in 1st, 2nd, and Toddlers, 3s and 4s my primary goal was to be there for the teachers (my school has a team teaching model) and students. A big difference was the accountability and responsibility basically on the other teacher‘s shoulders.  I was basically the helper, to be available for what the lead teacher needed from me.”

How is subbing the same as being a teacher?

“As a substitute teacher I did many read alouds, led Morning Meetings, did math activities, writing, and reading workshop. I followed the lesson plans left by the teacher but could use my discretion and expertise to modify the lessons. I did have autonomy as well. I collaborated with the teachers to create a program that met the student’s needs, that encouraged questioning, wonder, voice, and choice.”

What tips do you have for substitute teachers?

“Smile as you come into the room excited to be there. If you’re a substitute teacher you’re there because you’re valued and have been asked to sub. Hopefully, because you want to be there. Leave the critiques at the door. Go in and enjoy the students your lucky to meet and teach.”


Thank you for sharing with us Faige! There was a lot to learn for her! What was your biggest takeaway? 

An Introduction To Using Enneagram In Education

Let’s talk enneagram! I want to do a segment on the enneagram personality type and how it can help us understand how we learn. I did a segment on Myers-Briggs type indicator last year and felt inclined to highlight enneagram as well. 

Why is it important to know personality type when it comes to education? 

“When we study nine personality types of the Enneagram, we can better understand how and why others see the world differently from us. This awareness leads to greater compassion and acceptance of others. We can apply this knowledge to adapt our teaching style (sometimes in very small ways) to make a big difference in how well our students learn. In the classroom, the Enneagram can help teachers and students connect to be effective partners in education.” –Rob Fitzel 

We as humans see the world one way, but can be confused or misunderstanding when others see the world in a different way. Understanding enneagram types of not only ourselves but others can be a great fix for this. Having validation of the best learning environment for yourself can also set you up for success. There are so many different ways to study and take notes, so having this knowledge can give you the chance to find your groove of learning faster. 

What is enneagram?

It is not just an indicator of personality, but dives deep into someone and finds their core beliefs, why they make decisions, and the driving factor behind our actions and feelings. The symbol for enneagram is a web of sorts because each type takes on different aspects of other types during growth and stress. For example, a type one will lean towards a type 4 personality in stress and a type 7 during growth. For the sake of simplicity, I will not be diving too deep into this topic. If it is something you wish to delve deeper into, I will have additional websites linked below with further information. 

How do you find your type?

There are multiple tests you can take to determine this, but I have not found one specific test that I lean towards using, so I will leave finding a test up to you. Perhaps the best way you can find your personality type is research, research, research! Learning about every single type and finding which ones you can identify with most. 

I’m excited to dive in deep to this learning context with you! Come back next week to learn about type 1’s, what their personality entails, and how they learn best. 

What is your enneagram personality type? 

Other resources for learning more about enneagram and finding your personality type: 

https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions

Instagram accounts to follow:

https://instagram.com/enneagramashton?igshid=1e9rhqb1pkpfy

https://instagram.com/enneagramexplained?igshid=k6s80x81thcv

Have You Heard About Our Scholarship?

Hello! McKenzie here with some news! Not only can I say I am an educational blogger, but I am now a scholarship chairperson! Honors Graduation does a very generous scholarship every year, they hand out five $10,000 scholarships to high school seniors attending college the next school year. You can read more about the scholarship here. 

I’ve always wanted to be part of a scholarship organization in some way since college. I was fortunate to receive many scholarships, both large and small amounts, throughout my four years and have felt inclined in some way to provide this for other college students. I know first hand the excitement and relief that comes with the award of scholarship money. When presented with the opportunity to be on the scholarship board for Honors Graduation I was thrilled, to say the least! 

The scholarship outline is to design a better future. Students create a project in their community that better it in some way. This is the second reason I love being here for this! One of my strengths is to look around at a situation and think, “How can I improve this?” When I was in high school I worked in the Sears shoe department where I was constantly moving shelves, reorganizing, and making the process more efficient for all, my supervisor loved it! 

As I’ve been researching this scholarship and reading about every past winner, I had a light bulb moment that I am unknowingly conducting my own design a better future project that I am excited to share with you soon. Stay tuned! And until then, check out our scholarship and see how you, or a high school senior you know, can win $10,000! 

Cover photo by Lacey Ross Photography

Feature Friday: Kayla Eddington

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 Kayla Eddington, a second-grade teacher in Utah. Here is what Kayla has for us today! 

What is your favorite thing about teaching 2nd grade?  

“I love the age. They are so loveable. They love coming to school to learn and to see you as the teacher. I love that you can still discipline them and they will love you no matter what.”

What made you want to go into teaching? 

“I grew up playing school at home. I thought it was the best thing ever. I guess my thoughts never changed because here I am. I love teaching kids and seeing them get things and share their learning with the class.”

How have you integrated the arts into your core curriculum? 

I love to incorporate visual arts into all subject areas. Recently it has been super fun to add to my student’s writing. I love teaching songs that go along with the content we are teaching. I believe it helps kids remember what we learned that day.”

If you could recommend one children’s book, what would it be and why? 

“This is such a hard question. There are so many choices. One of my favorite college professors read us Clementine by Sara Pennypacker. I fell in love with books. Clementine, the main character is so funny. I have read it to my students every year and they have all fallen in love with it as well and want to read all the books in the series.”

What are your best tips for avoiding burnout? 

“I had to learn a balance in all things. I try to not bring anything home unless it is something pressing. I have also learned to be ahead of the game and planned out a week or two in advance. This has saved me so many times.”

What do you wish someone would have told you in your first year teaching? 

“I wish I would have known how hard it is and what teachers really do behind the scenes. They don’t teach you that stuff in college and you don’t come to understand it all until you are right in the middle of it all.  I love it just the same, however.”

What are the benefits you’ve seen in collaborating with your team of teachers? 

“This saved me my first few years of teaching. There is no way I would have made it without other teachers on my team helping me through the way. I love to bounce ideas off of others as well. We all help each other out in many different ways. Everyone has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. It is so helpful to have others to help out.”

How do you use student voice in your classroom and what outcomes have you seen from it? 

“I love to hear my students teach each other. One way I love to do it and so do my students is during math. They love to come up in front of the class and show each other how to solve a problem and talk about why they did what they did. I literally have kids upset when they don’t get a turn. This is when I know they love having their voice heard and to feel included. I also love to have a mini-meeting on Monday mornings and let each student share their thoughts about what we might be talking about that day.”


Thanks for your time and thoughts, Kayla! I’m excited to read her book recommendation. Head back next week to read our Feature Friday post from a California teacher!