Dr. Melissa Jackson, Regional Education Development Specialist

We’re excited to spotlight Dr. Melissa Jackson, who recently joined our team as a Regional Education Development Specialist. We recently had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her background in education and experiences with Audio Enhancement.

You used to be a teacher—Where and when did you teach? What subject and what grade(s)?

I taught Middle School Language Arts in Newton County, GA for 16 years. I was blessed to teach in a variety of settings including EBD, Title One, and Gifted. I have 4 years of district leadership experience and have served as the District Instructional Technology Director and the District Gifted Director.

What made you want to become a teacher?

I didn’t really choose to become a teacher—it chose me. I have always loved to learn, but I didn’t like being at school. As a middle school student, I didn’t understand why school was so boring. I had a couple of teachers that made learning more engaging than others, but I had one teacher that truly changed the game for me. Mrs. Boyum was my 9th-grade Algebra teacher. She made each of us feel like we truly mattered, and she made learning fun. This made me want to do the same for others. I wanted other people to love to learn the way I did and see that learning didn’t have to be boring.

What was your favorite part about teaching?

My favorite part of teaching was middle school kids! I am a sassy person, and I love working with sassy middle school students—you never know what you are going to get from them. Seeing students begin to love learning and want to come to school because they know they are cared for is the best feeling in the world. I have many that I taught as middle school students that I was blessed to mentor as first year teachers as they began their careers. This was a true blessing. I truly cherish the relationships I built with my students over the years and credit them for building me into the person I am today.

What was your least favorite part about teaching?

My least favorite part of teaching was definitely knowing that I couldn’t fix all of my student’s problems. I am a very empathetic person and when students came into the classroom with the weight of the world on their shoulders, it was hard to feel like I couldn’t “fix” all their problems for them. I took all of their problems home with me each and every day.

When did you stop teaching, and what brought you to Audio Enhancement?

I left the classroom in 2013 to work at the district level and returned in 2018 for a short time. I left again in 2019 to join the Audio Enhancement family. As a district-level administrator, I was able to work with Audio Enhancement as a customer. I saw how much of an impact Audio Enhancement solutions made in the classroom. I was honored when I was asked to join the AE family and work with teachers nationwide to share the work we do and continue making a difference.

Why do you think Audio Enhancement makes a difference for teachers?

Wow… this is a big question for me. I genuinely have a passion for serving teachers and students. This is why I joined the AE family. Audio Enhancement was developed initially because a mother wanted to provide a better education for her children. This is the ultimate goal at the heart of every educator.

Audio Enhancement makes a difference because we listen to the needs of teachers to develop products FOR teachers. Education has become much too often about pushing products on educators that they don’t want or need and don’t work in a real classroom. The audio, video, and safety products really are designed for real teachers in real classrooms. As a person who has always loved learning, it makes me feel good that I can help teachers use things in their classrooms that help them continue learning and become better teachers. I know this means we will have more students that will love learning.

We are grateful to have Dr. Jackson as part of our team and appreciate all the knowledge and experience she brings. Her insights are priceless in helping us understand what educators really want and need and how we can help them the most.

Project-Based Learning—How it benefits students

We’ve been reading a lot about project-based learning (PBL) and felt it would be beneficial to understand it better, so we researched it to increase our understanding. In our last blog post, we looked at some of the key elements of project-based learning. In this post, we share some of the benefits educators have seen as they implement PBL.

Benefits of Implementing PBL

Educators want what’s best for their students and work hard to ensure what they do in the classroom is worth everyone’s time and effort. Like any change in teaching and learning methods, integrating PBL takes time, effort, and planning—the benefits have to be worth it! So what are the benefits of implementing PBL?

Students develop “soft skills”

Soft skills are increasingly identified as crucial to success. PBL helps students learn to effectively collaborate and communicate. Students receive increased opportunities to consider multiple perspectives and develop empathy for others.

Critical thinking, problem solving

The complex problems that students solve in PBL require them to engage in “inquiry, research, and ideation.” They have to look at the problem from different angles and keep moving forward to find a solution. These skills can transfer to other problems and are useful throughout students’ lives.

Excitement about learning

PBL can ignite students’ excitement about learning. When they work to solve a problem they’re passionate about and can see real-world application, it can increase excitement about new projects and learning opportunities.

Developing a growth mindset

PBL provides a great opportunity for developing a growth mindset. Projects require continued testing and revision, helping students see that most work isn’t generally perfect in the beginning stages. PBL gives students permission to fail and move forward, reworking their plan where needed.

Project-based learning may not be a fit for every situation, but it offers many benefits that teachers are seeking for their students. Many teachers and students are already seeing value from implementing it into their classrooms. Have you tried PBL? What has your experience been?

3 Ways to Nurture Student Leadership

Students collaborating

Leadership skills are highly sought after by employers today, so it’s only fitting that they are taught to students from a young age. Many schools offer programs that teach leadership qualities, including student council, peer mentoring groups, safety patrol and student clubs. In addition, here are three small things teachers can do to nurture skills students need to become leaders.

Teach students to believe in themselves and their ability to succeed.

High levels of self-efficacy, or belief in their ability to reach a goal, lead students to challenge themselves. Those students also have higher intrinsic motivation, a key characteristic in students who become adult leaders. We can accomplish this through inquiry-based activities, collaborative learning, and helping students appreciate how far they have come instead of comparing themselves to other students.

Teach students to work together and teach each other.

Communication skills are essential for good leaders, and working in groups helps students develop necessary communication and problem-solving skills. When students teach each other, it requires them to re-read and review material. It improves self-confidence and presentation skills, which are also qualities of a good leader. This can be facilitated through group work, projects, or presentations.

Teach students responsibility and give them more responsibilities over time.

Responsibility entails accountability, self-control, discipline, and trustworthiness. Students practice responsibility by doing their homework, studying for tests, and accepting the consequences when they don’t. When students receive bad grades or have discipline problems, recognize their achievements and help them realize they can do better. Giving out small classroom jobs and daily tasks can also increase their sense of responsibility.

Along with math, reading, and writing skills, students need to develop the qualities that are necessary for college and the work force. Teaching today’s children and adolescents to be leaders from a young age will, without a doubt, better prepare them for the future.

Making Flexible Seating Possible

student working in flexible seating classroom

Flexible seating in classrooms has been growing in popularity. Many teachers have tried it out and recognize its benefits in students’ attendance, grades, and even behavior. Flexible seating lets students choose their learning space, providing a variety of seating options in the same classroom. It allows students to be more comfortable, and use up excess energy. It can even provide better oxygen flow to the brain. Continue reading “Making Flexible Seating Possible”

Preparing Students for Exams: Not Just Memorization

Prevent interruptions with custom zones

Albert Einstein said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” Many times, students seem to focus their attention and energy on memorizing concepts and doing schoolwork in order to get good grades and do well on exams. But one can argue that after the papers are turned in, after the final exam has been graded, when they are not thinking about the next test, the knowledge remaining is what they have truly learned. Continue reading “Preparing Students for Exams: Not Just Memorization”