Although her students might not believe it, Michelle Townsley didn’t always enjoy being in the classroom. “I wasn’t excited by my early years as a student,” she recalls. “I found the teaching pedantic and uninspiring. As a result, I didn’t go to college until I was 21.”
Luckily, a beloved teacher saw Townsley’s potential and encouraged her to give teaching a try. “I told her I didn’t want to see students stagnate in a lackluster environment. She suggested that my creativity and excitement about real-life learning could invigorate students like me.”
That teacher was right: Townsley has taught for nearly 30 years and has been named Math Educator of the Year, Teacher of the Year, and Inspirational Teacher. She currently teaches math and science at Rio del Valle Middle School in Ventura, California, where she’s been for the past seven years.
Townsley still loves hands-on learning as much as she did at the start of her career. “I’m inspired by creative educators moving toward dynamic teaching models like project-based learning,” she says. “I’m motivated when I see creativity in action.”
To help her students put their own creativity into action, Townsley uses Post-it® Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface in her math classes. “It’s allowed me to create additional writing space for students to show different procedures for solving problems.”
Townsley’s also used Post-it® Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface to conduct real-world product research. “When I first introduced it in the classroom, I had my students brainstorm ways to use it. I told them to include any and all ideas, even the ones they thought were goofy.”
The students had a great time getting their thoughts out, and they came up with several kid-approved suggestions:
1. You can draw on it for art.
2. If you have to go somewhere, it can be a hall pass.
3. You could use it as a blueprint for robotics.
4. You can put it in your locker to post your class schedule.
5. Three words: finger ice skating.
Using Post-it® Super Sticky Dry Erase Surface helps students see that nothing is permanent. Make a mistake in a math procedure? Erase it and keep going. Write something you want to improve? One wipe of a finger and you’re ready to start over. When students realize mistakes are a natural part of learning, they’ll gain the confidence they need to keep pushing toward their goals, in and out of the classroom.
Michelle Townsley teaches math and science at Rio del Valle Middle School in Ventura, California.