Teacher Spotlight: Nicole Huston from Muskegon Montessori Academy for Environmental Change

Nicole Hutson is a 1st – 3rd grade teacher at Muskegon Montessori Academy for Environmental Change.

What keeps your students aiming for success in the classroom?
They have learned or are in the process of learning how to be intrinsically motivated. I set high but reasonable expectations for them to meet. Students also set their own expectations and they will reach even further than I would have asked them to.

How do you remind your students of the expectations you have?
During our morning meetings we discuss some expectations that they may need to be mindful about. We have a “Rights and Responsibility” contract that reminds them of the expectations in the classroom.

Your students seem to take an active part in the classroom. In what ways are they active in their learning?
My students are very active in their learning. They are constantly able to move about the room. They actively participate in lessons on a daily basis, and actively use materials to manipulate and solve problems.

With such independent students, how do you incorporate teamwork into your classroom?
I encourage them to work with each other on the areas they may need help in. They understand that we all have strengths and weaknesses, and we can help each other along in the learning process.

In what ways do you build a family-like atmosphere in your classroom?
We take notice of each other. We acknowledge the positive choices that they make on a daily basis. We take the time to get to know one another through community-building activities.

What’s your secret ingredient?
The secret ingredient of building a successful learning environment is building relationships with my students.

How are creativity and innovative thinking used on a daily basis in your classroom?
I try to encourage creative and innovative thinking as much as possible. My students will openly give suggestions on how to make certain aspects of the classroom run better, and I always acknowledge that and give it a try if it seems reasonable.