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Henry’s innovative muscle moving teachers beyond comfort zones

PITTSBORO — Chatham County Schools employees are earning Firestarter Awards for Innovative approaches to education. Pittsboro Elementary School teacher Michaela Henry earned one for what she does to help new teachers get acclimated.

“I look at teaching as a profession that is constantly growing and changing, and we as educators are constantly wanting to grow not just our students but even ourselves,” Henry said. “One way that I like to help teachers grow and see not just their student’s potential but their own is exposure. We have so many resources out there sometimes it feels like too many but we aren’t always sure how to appropriately implement them into our classrooms. With just some simple exposure and creating engagement — just like we do with our students — I hope teachers can see how changing our way of teaching and thinking can be beneficial.”

It’s about educators — not just new ones, by the way — being comfortable enough to step out of their comfort zones, Henry said. She incorporates tools for digital learning including Flipgrid, HyperDocs, Padlet and Google Drawings.

“However, if we overexpose resources, et cetera, it can be overwhelming, and then you may see teachers not implementing something 100 percent,” Henry said. “I encourage new teachers to pick a few resources they would like to implement and implement those resources with fidelity, and stick with that. One way I use technology and digital tools with sharing lessons and helping new teachers is I provide options. We are all different, we all have our own strengths, and we want to build each other’s strengths to help them shine, but also help on their areas of improvement. I make sure to share possible paths for teachers in lessons that will help get all teachers to the same end goal.”

That goal is student growth. Henry said she’s constantly measuring to make sure she’s a better educator than she was a day ago, a month ago, a year ago.

“My mentality of wanting to be better and improve helps me reach out and share ideas and resources with other educators in hopes that they, too, are willing and wanting to grow, as well,” Henry said.  

Pittsboro Elementary School Principal Kendra Fisher, teacher Michaela Henry and Superintendent Dr. Derrick D. Jordan Published Feb. 17, 2019