Director of Teaching & Learning Miles Azzeh's Academic Spotlight: Brandy Hamilton
Our Lansing USD 469 teachers are incredible at engaging our students in fantastic learning opportunities to reach their full potential every day in our district. To highlight and bring recognition to this great work, Director of Teaching and Learning Miles Azzeh will be regularly shining a spotlight on a stand-out teacher through "academic spotlights."
A "champion" doesn't always have to be a "winner."
Lansing Middle School English Language Arts (ELA) teacher Brandy Hamilton said these words during this week's academic spotlight as I observed her with her 7th-grade English class. The activity they were working on filled my heart with happiness: the students watched Rita Pierson's powerful TED Talk "Every Kid Needs a Champion," discussed the message with each other, and then sent a handwritten letter to the "champions" in their own lives.
"Teenage years are hard for many students, and I want to remind them that teachers and adults have their backs and support them. I think it's important that they recognize that and have the opportunity to thank those adults in their lives," said Mrs. Hamilton.
In addition to the activity being one of kindness and appreciation, it also allowed Mrs. Hamilton to improve the students' writing and proofreading skills.
"Anytime I can get kids to write, it's a good thing. Giving them an assignment that they enjoy and can connect with makes it that much better. They can practice skills and improve their writing while doing something they enjoy." said Mrs. Hamilton
The assignment was well received by the students. As they worked on their letters, it was apparent they conceptually understood the power of appreciation and gratitude to people who have helped them in their lives.
"It was inspirational and interesting, and it gave me a better view of teachers. I really liked getting to write the letter so that my teacher knows I appreciate him," said David Williams.
"It made me feel like I was worth something. I got teary-eyed because it reminded me of all the good things my coach has done for me," said Kyndal Schneider.
Students also had a chance to reflect on how appreciation can play a role in their lives and those they were writing letters to.
"I thought it was a good way to express your feelings to people in your life that you appreciate," said Ainslee Frederick.
"It made me think of all the people who care about me," said Etta Garrett.
Mrs. Hamilton went even further with the activity by explaining to students how focusing on appreciation and gratitude can help one's mental well-being:
"Appreciation is one of the key things we teach students in our social-emotional learning. Focusing on appreciation helps reduce stress."
Well said and well done, Mrs. Hamilton!