Educator Melissa Seideman Talks Students, Content and Colleagues
“Thanks to my student teaching mentor, I have a happy folder where I put anything that makes me happy. When I have a rough day or week I look at my happy folder and remember why I became a teacher.”
Today’s inspiring interview is with teacher Melissa Seideman. A talented, veteran teacher who has taught in Pennsylvania and New York, she brings 13 years of experience to her classroom and students.
Melissa teaches secondary social studies and is passionate about educating students to be life-long, engaged citizens. She currently teaches government, economics, and sociology in Cold Spring, New York. You can find Melissa on Instagram and on Pinterest – she has great teaching ideas and inspiration to follow! Her website, NotAnotherHistoryTeacher.com is also PACKED with best practices, resources and inspiration.
Melissa, why did you choose to become a teacher? I always knew I wanted to be a teacher! My mom is a health teacher and I always went into school with her to help her set up her classroom and help on my days off of school. I also tutored elementary kids in high school, which reaffirmed my career choice. Tell us about your journey to becoming a teacher. I went to Ithaca College and majored in social studies education. I got my first job teaching in a city school district in upstate NY right after graduation. My husband has been transferred a few times and I have been lucky enough to get a job with every move. I have taught at six school districts over 13 years! How do you stay inspired to be an amazing teacher? I will never forget my first class of students. In the city school district, I encountered a lot of kids who had nothing and were appreciative of anything you did for them. One particular student Lamar was the sweetest kid and when I figured out he had limited food at home I brought him in food throughout the week. He would actually start sticking around after school and became one of my favorite students. I was so proud when I tracked him down to find out he ended up graduating high school! I still stay in touch with him today. I also have a bunch of inspirational mentors who are teachers on Twitter. I have been lucky to be part of the #sschat network of social studies teachers – that was my support network when I switched schools and subjects.
How do you know you’re in “the right place” in your career choice as a teacher? I love it when I teach a lesson and the concepts just click. I love teaching my kids about voting in the United States. Every year when I teach my government class my students are super excited to learn about voting in America. I teach them about the voting process and how important it is to our democracy through this voting lesson. I can’t think of a better way to get them civically engaged than to teach my students about the importance of voting, reasons why people do and do not cast their ballots, why low voter turnout is a problem, and how voting is essential to our democracy. Read more here.
Check out Melissa’s engaging lesson on Voting! It’s packed with technology, writing to learn, collaboration and inquiry.
Thirteen years of teaching and you’re STILL inspired! How do you find balance between life and work? I do NOT bring any work home with me, which allows me to have a nice work-life balance. This has helped me to keep some sense of normalcy in my life and allowed me to be more present for my kids, students, family, and friends. I work through my whole prep (sometimes lunch) and get to school early so I can leave on time and leave work at work! I recharge after a hard day by drinking a hot chai tea latte and watching some TV to relax. How do you keep your spirits high, Melissa – when the work is tough, you lose inspiration or just aren’t feeling it? I have a happy folder. When I was student teaching, my mentor told me to create one. I place anything that makes me happy in it. My folder is filled with 13 years of student notes, drawings, parent emails, good observations, etc. When I have a rough day or week I look at my happy folder and remember why I became a teacher. It always picks my mood up and makes me happy. I also love working with new teachers and sharing our craft. They come into school so excited to collaborate and learn. You have clearly had amazing mentors, colleagues and students during your career. If you could sum it up for us, Melissa, why do you still love teaching? I still love teaching because of the students! I love seeing them engage with my content and current events.