WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight is on Katie Manning

 Write on Fight on’s Teacher Spotlight features awesome educators who are dedicated to teaching and inspiring young people everyday.

In this edition, WoFo features history teacher Katie Manning.  I would like to thank Katie for her interview and dedication to the teaching profession.

In these tumultuous times, it is essential that students understand exactly how our government and electoral process is supposed to work and the rights they have as Americans. 

Besides being a teacher Katie Manning is…. 

a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, & friend.   My family means the world to me & they continue to inspire me every day.

Where do you currently teach, what do you teach and for how long? 

Pond Road Middle School in Robbinsville, NJ.  I have been teaching 8th Grade Social Studies (US History) for the past 10 years.  Before this, I spent two years teaching in Florence, NJ.

What is your favorite lesson to teach and why?  

Anything related to the Constitution. I am so fortunate that the content area I teach allows me to explore with the students what it means to be an American.  In these tumultuous times, it is essential that students understand exactly how our government and electoral process is supposed to work and the rights they have as Americans If we are unhappy with the way things are going, we are fortunate enough to live in a country where we can affect true change.  An educated population can have meaningful dialogue that empowers citizens to change their government through non-violent means.  Almost everyday, I get the chance to create opportunities for students to discover what it means to be an American and a citizen of our world…I mean really…how cool is that??

If, for one day, you were in charge of your school what would you do?

I would do everything I could to provide opportunities for teachers to share experiences in their classrooms (in person).  The longer I spend in this profession, the more I realize how much there is that I do not know.  I wish we could set up some teacher exchange programs where we get to see teachers in other classes, buildings, districts, etc do this work.  There is so much talent out there. As teachers we could grow from one another if we could explore different classroom environments, teaching styles, student populations, etc.

If you could write one quote on the board for your students what would it be?  

“Without a struggle, there can be no progress”.  –Frederick Douglass

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be? 

Probably a politician or government official. I want to have an impact.

What advice would you give to all new teachers? 

Probably two things…first, you don’t know everything, and that is awesome!  Let it be known that you are imperfect and that you are a work in progress. This lets students know that they are on a journey with you and that it is okay to make mistakes.  The second piece of advice would be…don’t ever think you can phone it in…they will know!

If the best thing about teaching is the students, what’s the second-best thing?  

The ability to be a vehicle of change, whether for your students, your team, your school or your district…you have the ability to bring about change in this ever-evolving world.  Your work as a teacher can constantly remind you of that. This can be an incredible challenge, but also an amazingly empowering experience if you constantly work towards using your role for the good of your students and your school.

Who inspires you? 

I absolutely recognize that this is going to sound cheesy, but my students inspire me.  I started out working in financial services after college and when I  began coaching, I quickly realized that in order to be fulfilled, I had to do something more meaningful.  I decided to change careers when I was about 30 years old. It wasn’t an easy transition, but trading in the income potential of my previous career has been made worthwhile by the achievements of my students.  When I get to witness, and sometimes be a part of those “ah-hah” moments that occur in my classroom the rewards are endless.

My classroom superpower is…

…connection because we seek to connect every day and laugh whenever possible (and probably more than we should). There is so much in the world to get worked up about and I find it essential my students feel welcome and enjoy coming to class.  I try to make connections and learn about the things that interest and challenge my class.  I love when we get to laugh at ourselves and the absurdity of the events that have happened in our history.

When kids are in my room and examine historical events, compare them to modern events, and make them relevant to their lives it can be difficult and sometimes disappointing.   We all work together to find the humor in it, while seeking out solutions for the future while there might not be any immediate answers, the fact that they are working through the process empowers them for the future.  If my students walk out of my room with the desire to know more about the world and a willingness to challenge it, I feel as if I have done my job.

Thanks for checking out this edition of Write on Fight on’s Teacher Spotlight Series!

Do you know an awesome educator who makes school an exciting adventure? If so, please consider nominating them to be featured on the Teacher Spotlight Series. Contact Jay at writeonfighton@gmail.com.

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