Teacher Feature Blog Series – Michelle Lemmon

Teacher Feature

We all remember a teacher who inspired us. An individual who has always believed in us, supported us through challenges, sparked our passion for a topic, or inspired us to keep going when we were discouraged. For me, I was fortunate enough to have many teachers who shaped my academic career and passion for education. In addition to being teachers, these individuals served as mentors, nurses, counselors, parents, friends, and ultimately, role models.

Teacher Feature, a new blog series by The School Planner Company, highlights educators from all over the country. These teachers and education entrepreneurs make an impact in and outside of the classroom sharing valuable knowledge with students and fellow teachers through influential sites and blogs. We are excited to bring awareness to how much teachers do each day, the relationships they foster with their students, and ultimately, how we as a community can best support them. Look forward to new teacher features regularly!

If you know an amazing educator who you think we should feature, please let us know by emailing teacherfeature@schoolplanner.com


Michelle Lemmon, Lemmon Lady

What inspires you as a teacher and education influencer?

As a math educator, I am most inspired when I win over a student.  So many times, students come to me with a poor opinion of math or of their math ability.  I make it my goal to not only help them have fun with math and learn, but also to help them see their capabilities in a new light.  In my intervention groups, building confidence is vital to their success in the regular classroom.  We work hard to make connections that will help them with what they are currently working on and in the future.  With my gifted and enrichment students, I work hard to stretch their thinking beyond calculating one right answer.  It is such a joy to help all types of students enjoy math and see the beauty in mathematical concepts!

What do you hope your students take away from your classroom?

Every day I work hard to help my students both discover the beauty in math and to see themselves as mathematicians.  I work with both intervention and gifted/enrichment groups.  I believe that they all deserve a math education that allows them to develop their own strategies, notice patterns, wonder about connections, and grow stamina and grit to build their own identity as a mathematician.  I hope they leave me realizing that math is for everyone.

What is a misconception about teaching that you would love to clarify?

We’ve all seen the memes and frustrated posts from parents about “new math.”  As a parent myself, we come from a generation that was taught math steps to blindly follow to solve problems.  We were not taught the WHY.  This difference is at the heart of the struggles for new Common Core math methods.  Educators are working hard to help students see connections, patterns, and find efficient strategies that go beyond the algorithms and cute rhymes we were taught in the past to get by.  Building this understanding takes time and sometimes feels inefficient or unnecessary to parents. But, it is in fostering this deeper understanding, that we can give our children a much better experience with math along with a lifelong love for math – something many of us older folks missed out on!

What is the value of writing by hand versus digital only?

In the math world, a blank paper can transform in an instant.  Writing by hand allows much more flexibility without pausing to use digital tools to record what’s in one’s head.  This uninterrupted fluent transfer of ideas lets students problem-solve in their own individual way.  

What is one fun way you motivated your students?

One of my all-time favorite rewards was born from a day of sharing in Morning Meeting.  A few years ago, my third graders were sharing things they like to do on a rainy day and I mentioned that my own daughters like to build a blanket fort.  So many of my students then said that they had never actually done that before. We decided that this must be something we experience together.  So, the class made a plan to collect PBIS rewards from our school-wide program and collectively cash them in for a blanket fort day. It took several weeks for them to meet their goal, but along the way they were all so supportive and positive with each other.

When the day actually came to build the fort, students brought in blankets and sheets from home as well as anything they could find to attach blankets – like chip clips.  We set to work transforming our entire classroom into a giant blanket fort.  We spent the entire afternoon reading, playing games and, yes, doing some school work inside our fort.  I’m sure it’s one day that they will remember.

Any creative tips for helping a student get into the routine of writing in a planner?

Coming from a primary grades background, I find that routines are important to establish with your students.  When I start out the year, I work with the class to develop a purpose and step-by-step routine for using our planners including what to write down.  From there, I make sure that we have a predictable time each day where we all use our planners.  This routine and predictability helps solidify the habit for students, but we don’t just stop there.  We also talk as a class about how and when to use our planner at home – including reviewing it with their grown-ups at home.  I have found that the more you can front-load students with the routine, the more useful the planner becomes.