Ellen Weber’s Educator Journey

A little bit about Ellen Weber and her journey as an educator! 

Mike-Nicole-300x168 Grades and subjects currently or most recently taught?

After a lifetime teaching secondary and higher ed. I teach mostly university students currently. I also facilitate secondary and university faculty as well as leaders to use brain based practices for leading and learning in brain-friendly settings.


What started you on the journey to become a teacher/ educator?

I became a teacher to make a difference, and one of my favorite schools was my first – an inner city school. Recently I was speaking at a leadership conference in Seattle and I stayed with a former student from my first year out.

Video-4-0-00-00-12-300x168I encouraged this student and her class to dream big and step in the direction of their dreams. She’s now in charge of accounts at a very successful technology firm.


Anything else that has made your journey special or noteworthy?

I started a debate club with a few inner city teens and when they saw the potential of their insights — the teams grew into a potent group. So I joined forces with another group and watched membership blossom to 40,000. I have a debate product in my store build off cool debate ideas that started with a few inner city teens and later became the Ellen Weber debate Trophy after I moved on.


What special thing do you do for your students?Video-2-0-00-03-02-300x168

My students are facilitated to speak up and feel heard in every aspect of their learning and assessment. They leave my class with brain based tools for developing strengths beyond anything I teach them.

I developed a unique form of teaching, assessing and leading in brain friendly ways (called Mita Brain Renewal approach) which is illustrated at http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/change/mita-brain-manifesto/ . This model has won awards in several countries — but it makes teaching fun and beneficial for both students and faculty.


The photos are from Ellen’s current course, “Lead Innovation with the Brain in Mind” and she explains, “In these photos students are engaging the wider community in their proposed innovations – which is also their final exam for the course. The field has been more than good to me for a lifetime — which is why I am still active and still learn daily from folks like writers and editors of this blog!”


EllenBrain7 (1)Ellen Weber is a whole brain curriculum specialist at secondary and higher education. She works in secondary and college learning renewal where she has won awards internationally for her practical brain based Mita model to engage both sides of students’ brains.
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Kim, the OCBeach Teacher’s Educator Journey

A little bit about Kim@OCBeachTeacher and her journey as an educator! 

Grades and subjects currently or most recently taught?

American Literature (11th grade) & AP English Literature and Composition (12th grade)


This photo (also published in the local paper) shows me this past spring with students in my club, Kids Against Animal Abuse and Testing (K.A.A.A.T). In a contest that we sponsored at our high school, we collected over 800 pounds of pet food to donate to our local humane society. .

What started you on the journey to become a teacher/ educator?

Originally I received my B.S. in journalism, so I didn’t plan to become a teacher until a couple of years after my undergraduate studies. I worked as an assistant in the guidance office of a local high school and loved helping students. I especially liked being involved with sponsoring educational assemblies. As a result of my work there, I decided to pursue my M.Ed.


Anything else that has made your journey special or noteworthy?

A memorable experience occurred during my sixth year of teaching. In February of 2003, I was involved in a life-threatening car accident on my way to work. The road where the accident happened is a frequently traveled single-lane highway used by students, families, and employees of our school system. Shockingly, on that highway, the fatality rate is 300 percent higher than our state’s average.

Shortly after the accident, I supported a local high school student’s efforts to create Kids Requesting Action for Safer Highways (KRASH II). I facilitated his efforts and empowered interested students by coaching them to speak at a forum with local and state government officials. Furthermore, I helped other concerned students write and send letters to elected officials.

In response to efforts from KRASH II, funds were made available to complete the dualization of the highway, and construction began in 2005 (it’s almost completed now). In a county where 82 busses travel 7,596 miles per day, I know that I have contributed to the safer journeys of students and community members. I used my car accident as a “teachable moment.


What special thing do you do for your students?

Late in 2007, I earned my National Board Certification in English Language Arts/Adolescence and Young Adulthood. The process was both challenging and nerve-racking, but I benefited from continually reflecting on my instructional practices. It definitely improved my teaching and has given me confidence in my professional decisions.

I have also worked as a teacher consultant with the Eastern Shore Writing Project (ESWP), an affiliate of the National Writing Project, since 2006. I have been an instructor at writing camps sponsored by the ESWP for many years. Additionally, I have provided professional development at regional conferences and worked as part of a professional learning community with them.



OC_BEACH_TEACHER_revised_finalKim, the OCBeach Teacher,  is a National Board Certified English teacher who is currently teaching American Literature and AP English Literature and Composition.  She shares classroom ideas and tips on her OCBeachTeacher Facebook Page.
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Missing My Goal

I won’t make my TpT goal this year – and that’s okay.

In January, like a large portion of Americans, I made a goal for myself. A TpT store resolution. At the time I realized that yes, this was a big undertaking. I gave myself all sorts of pep talks, spoke in clichés (go big or go home!), and told my husband I could do it when he politely told me that I was setting myself up for failure.

I marched along, checking numbers off a crumpled note card. Up until May, I was on track! I created/ fixed/ tweaked 8 products per month. Then my kids got out of school, the weather got nice, and I couldn’t sit on the computer all day. (Actually, I just went to TpT as I typed this and looked at the statistics and saw that since May, I have posted 8 products – my goal for each month, not one summer).

Reflecting on the end of my summer, I was bummed. I beat myself up and wondered how I let this happen when I had been doing so well. Like any person with an English degree, I wrote out my feelings, and I thank you very much in advance for reading my top five list of why I am at peace with not meeting my TpT goal for the year.

1. I am not publishing junk. I refuse. Could I have published 8 new products? Probably. I wouldn’t be proud of them though. I prefer not meeting a goal as opposed to meeting it with fluffy products.

2. Meaningful lessons take time. I want to test materials on students. I want to tweak my notes. I want to rearrange my worksheets or add another for further clarification. I don’t want to scrap material that doesn’t work – but I will take the time to do so if it is in the best interest of students.

3. My goal maybe, a bit, was lofty. I know 8 products would be stretching it, but I have so many ideas! Fun ideas! Ideas to help others! Ideas begging to be turned into lessons! Still, 8 products per month while I work and mother three kids? It was a big order.

4. I am taking lots of time for thinking. When I taught full-time, exhaustion followed me. That guy was everywhere.

Now that I work part-time, I am still busy, but I do have those moments where I can think. I can reflect on lessons. I can brainstorm. I can type an idea, scrap it, and come back to it later. My best lessons – the ones that students enjoyed and I treasure – came from lots of thinking. If I don’t meet my goal because I am thinking, well, I’ll miss my goal for that.

5. I spent lots of time with my kids this summer. We went on vacation, rode bikes, visited parks, climbed trees, had picnics, bowled, hosted sleepovers, attended sleepovers, played with cousins, ate too much ice-cream, picked homegrown tomatoes, chased the dog, read for the library’s summer reading program, and stayed up late.

And you know what? I sat at kindergarten registration on Thursday and looked at my middle child, beaming with confidence in her tiny seat in her new kindergarten classroom. I stood in the hall, bouncing my one-year old, realizing that I would be back in this classroom in four short years, placing her in a tiny seat. Later, I looked at my second grader, nonchalantly assessing his new classroom, asking the teacher about science projects for the year.

And I am glad that I did not hold myself to my goal for the year. I love making products, but I cannot envision coming home from a college dorm room in seventeen years and wishing I could trade these summer memories for more products, more money.

Honestly – of course I want more products in my store. I want all the ideas from my head typed – all those half sheets of paper, scribbled in the night made into fruition. I want to save money for that college dorm room!

As I reflect on missing my goal for TpT, I am at peace. I take the teaching profession (which includes TpT) and my parenting job too seriously to goof them up. If that means missing my goal for the year, not getting those products out there, that is what it means.

We teachers work on a different schedule than others. August brings a time of closure, a time of new beginnings. It can also bring a new meaning to the goals we have for ourselves.


LanguageArtsClassroomLauralee Moss, a secondary language arts instructor, has taught for over a decade. She has a B.S. in English Education and a M.A. in Teaching and Leadership; visit her blog for more ideas or store for great products.
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Exercise & Stress Relief (and a Freebie)

(This post originally appeared at Science in the City: Student-Centered Science.  Reprinted with permission.)

This is not a traditional freebie, because it is not directly classroom related, however, as the school year is coming to an end (for some of you it has already ended), many of us are focused on goals for the summer, or plans that may or may not involve our classrooms.  One of my goals is to focus more on physical fitness and stress relief.  For me, that means that I want to do more yoga.

I found an amazing site, called doyogawithme.com that has MANY yoga videos at many levels, focusing on different body areas, for free.

I made myself a calendar (a 30 day plan), that I would like to share with you, in case any of your summer goals are the same.  There are two versions in the file, a calendar (July) and a plan that just covers 30 days. Each week it includes 2 rest days, a 40-60 minute routine, two 20-30 minute routines, and 2 shorter routines.  There is a mixture of stretching and strength.

Anyone want to join me and see if we can stick with it?

DoYoga Clip



profile pic2Tara is a science teacher from upstate NY. She has taught General Science, Biology, Environmental Science, and Earth Science.
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Zumba – Sweat and Fun!

I’m not a competitive athlete, but I like to go to the gym and stay fit, which is getting more challenging every year! I’ve gone to many gym classes over the years including spin, yoga, Pilates, and kickboxing, but my new favorite is Zumba. And although Zumba classes gained popularity several years ago, I’ve recently become addicted. In high school (25 years ago), I enjoyed cheerleading and participating on the pom-pom dance team, but by the time I started Zumba, I had definitely lost my dancing abilities! At first I was very embarrassed to participate in Zumba class, but with a supportive instructor zumbainstructorand friendly classmates I soon got over my inhibitions and just decided to have fun! Our classes are diverse, with participants ranging from teenagers (including some of my students) to grandmothers.

Here is one of my favorite instructors, Amber.

Now, after months of classes, I’m remembering how to loosen up and practice the hip hop and salsa moves. Also, I’m enjoying modern music by artists such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Robin Thicke. Besides working up a sweat, this helps me keep in-tune with my students 😉 Taking a class also reminds me what it feels like to be a student and how the best instructors use scaffolding (just a few new moves at a time) and modeling to help people learn. If you are ever looking for a fun work-out that burns lots of calories, I highly recommend giving Zumba a try!

OC_BEACH_TEACHER_revised_finalKim, the OCBeach Teacher,  is a National Board Certified English teacher who is currently teaching American Literature and AP English Literature and Composition.  She shares classroom ideas and tips on her OCBeachTeacher Facebook Page.
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Stretching the Teacher Paycheck

Whether it’s during the year when the paycheck isn’t quite what you need or during the summer if you get paid on a 9 or 10 month calendar, it’s useful to have some ways to stretch the paycheck.  Here are a few things we’ve done:

Reduce the disposable Products in the Kitchen: Paper products are convenient, but they just get thrown away.  Trade paper plates for glass or plastic (as a bonus, using my son’s small plastic plates help with portion control).  Replace paper napkins with cloth.  While you can get special “un-papertowels” that snap onto a roll, we just use the kitchen towels that were apparently breeding in our linen closet.  We keep a roll of paper towels for guests, but use cloth for everything else.  We also use bins rather than one-use plastic baggies for storage (except for the offspring as he throws them away at preschool.)

WP_20140410_001Switch to cloth diapers: Hear me out.  While you could use plastic pants and pins and fold your own… you don’t have to.  Cloth diapers can be just as easy as a disposable diaper.  Some kinds (pockets) go on just like disposables– diaper on butt, snap or velcro to close.  It really is that easy.  There is some extra laundry, but adding a load or two per week is not going to cost as much as the $10 or more per week on disposables.  There is initial investment, but a single cloth diaper can last 2-3 years or more. (I haven’t bought diapers for my son in a year and a half!)  Yes, there is poop to clean… but I’m already cleaning it off my son’s butt, so for me (and many) cleaning it off a diaper usually is not a problem.  Diaper sprayers or disposable liners can reduce the mess.

Thrift stores: After my son was born, I kind of needed some work clothes that fit the expanded frontier.  I hit up the local thrift store.  For less than $20, I had four pairs of pants and 6 shirts.  All classic, mix-and-match.  I had a few shirts at home that still fit, and now had a wardrobe.  Not all thrift stores are created equal– the one by my house is in a wealthy area, so there are plenty of donations with tags still on them or barely worn.  Check out a couple to see what you can find that offers good value.  I have also bought a bread maker for $5, and tote bins worth of baby clothes for my son over the years.  Resale and consignment shops can also offer great bargains.

Learn How to Fix Things: Google is your friend.  You can Google how to fix anything with videos, tutorials, and more online for free.  I have replaced a car battery, fixed chair legs, sewed buttons, add patches to worn spots, replaced toilet handles, and more just by Googling how to do it.  I have also repainted tired plastic patio furniture, scrubbed soap scum from the shower curtain, and glued many things back together just to save a few bucks.  It’s an every little bit counts mentality.

P1020384Wait on Purchases:  Don’t buy something right away.  When times are lean, we write down what we want to purchase.  Then we have time to consider if we really need it.  Sometimes the “need” passes or an alternative is discovered.  For the remaining, we make sure to save money on it, somehow.  Perhaps it’s scouring the thrift shop, eBay, or Craigslist for a cheaper one.  Or we often wait for sales or promotions (like 15% off with credit card… but ONLY if we can pay off the card at the end of the month.)

Track Your Spending: One of the biggest ways to stretch your money is to really know where it’s going.  Few people realize how quickly their lunch at work or coffee at the shop adds up.  Or maybe it’s single-serve packages of something when you could get a larger package and divide it yourself (a 2 Liter of pop at my local grocery store is LESS than a 20 oz bottle!)  Seeing where the biggest expenses are can also help efforts to cut them– maybe it’s eating out on Friday night or new clothes or movie rentals or some other “small” purchase that adds up.  Finding the culprit can help find a solution– many libraries have now included movies and eBook rentals in their catalog.  Crockpot or ready-to-cook meals can help the Friday night problem.  And so on– but the problem can’t be fixed until it has been identified.  (I’ll confess– our expense was books.  And I wasn’t even reading them all.)

Make it Game: One thing many frugal people have is the mindset of trying to outdo themselves.  Just how much money can we save?  How good of deal can be gotten?  It doesn’t have to be this extreme, but looking at it in a positive light– an opportunity, a game where the money saved is like points racked up– can make it easier to stick with it and make it work.  Seeing it as a chore or a restriction will hinder progress.

CDickson Profile PicClair Dickson, high school English teacher, likes free eTexts and Project Based Learning to stretch her meager budget .  Visit her store High School English on a Shoestring Budget to stretch your budget: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Msdickson


Saturday Slowdown: Rescuing Buster

busterI know it’s a cliché, but our dog Buster is our child. Since my husband Dan and I don’t have human children, our furry, brown one is the spoiled-rotten center of our lives. We got him in October 2009, from a friend of a friend on Facebook. At the time, I didn’t realize that the puppy being fostered by a lady who worked with the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) was an American Staffordshire Terrier, otherwise known as a pitbull. Sadly, since they are often used in illegal dog-fighting rings and banned in many places around the United States, pitbulls have a rotten reputation. Although often viewed as dangerous, they are actually loving, people-oriented dogs. In fact, they make excellent therapy dogs and have been featured like Petey on The Little Rascals in classic television and movies.

Buster is far from the stereotyped menacing pitbull. Being an English teacher, I had envisioned naming him after some literary character like Atticus or Gatsby, but as soon as I saw his clownish face, I knew Buster Brown was the more fitting name. He is scared of his own shadow and loves to snuggle with us on the sofa and in bed. In truth, at 75 pounds he is quite heavy when he insists on lying on top of me! Playful and energetic, he loves going to the dog park that is down the street from our house, and in warmer weather he gets regular walks on the beach at Assateague Island National Seashore, where wild ponies just seem to be bigger dogs.

buster 2
Dogs aren’t as complicated as children, so Buster entertains us every day. Whether he’s spinning in circles trying to catch his tail, racing to the window in search of squirrels, or tilting his head as though he can understand what we are saying to him, he makes us giggle regularly. I keep telling him to learn English, but so far he hasn’t complied.

buster 1It’s unfortunate that pitbulls get maligned in the press. BARCS rescues up to 11,000 homeless and abused animals each year, many of them pitbulls. Each day, 300 hundred animals live on-site at the non-profit shelter, while another 200 remain in foster care. For one of BARCS’ recent fundraisers, they coordinated with the Baltimore Orioles Baseball Team to create a calendar. Buster was a featured “Happy Tail”!

If interested, you can learn more about BARCS, make a donation, or help another pet find a great home, click below: BARCS

bloglogoKim is a National Board Certified English teacher who is currently teaching American Literature and AP English Literature and Composition. She shares classroom ideas and tips on her OCBeachTeacher Facebook Page.