Heather Lamoureux Lucky Teacher Traveler
Heather Lamoureux considers herself lucky to be back home teaching at Collins Elementary School, in Roscommon County, and the Houghton Lake Community School District, where she grew up and attended school herself. Connect Learning Today caught up with Heather to talk about teaching with technology and social media, as well as just how lucky she really is. Heather recently won a $10,000 vacation give-away, sponsored by ClassFlow, an all-in-one teaching tool for creating and orchestrating interactive multi-media lessons across a connected learning environment.
Editor’s note: Collins Elementary School is a K-3 public school with about 430 students in Houghton Lake, Michigan.
Connect Learning Today: Heather, when did you know you wanted to become a teacher?
Heather Lamoureux: I don’t exactly remember, but I do remember coming home and playing teacher with my sister, neighbors, and friends. I was always a teacher. I just loved learning new things and helping people. I had some really phenomenal teachers all the way through high school, who cared about me, too. They made learning fun. Teaching is the only thing that I ever thought about doing.
CLT: Have you always used technology in your classroom?
HL: I try using technology in my classroom and enjoy finding different ways to use it. To me, that’s what kind of gets me going.
We’ve always had about four or five computers, and because I teach in a workshop way, especially with math, I have students working through individual skills. Last year though, I was asked to attend the MACUL conference in Grand Rapids. That was the thing that just changed my way of thinking about technology in the classroom. It was phenomenal to hear all the different teachers and speakers. You know education technology solutions like that are out there, but at a conference everyone is talking about them.
When I came back to school I couldn’t wait to present to my staff. I presented a couple of times, but ever since then I’ve been online, in Twitter chats learning new things, and trying to bring new things into the classroom. You might say I’ve become a little obsessed since attending that technology conference.
CLT: You use Twitter, Heather?
I started on Twitter (https://twitter.com/lamou1ha) about three years ago. I was following teachers in literacy and reading, but hadn’t followed anyone in technology, because it wasn’t my thing until that conference. It was great to get all the names to follow and find out how they were implementing technology. It was enlightening. Now, I’m online every night looking for the newest and latest thing. I follow people such as Steven Anderson—Web20Classroom and Erin Klein—just love her, so I follow a lot of things she does.
CLT: What kinds of technology solutions do you have at school?
HL: Part of my going to the MACUL conference was to bring back technology ideas to other teachers. Some teachers have tried things, but not so much in an organized way. Many have used the Remind safe classroom communication app. I’ve purchased an iPad and did a Donor’s Choose for three more. I’ve added those to my five classroom computers. We also have an older interactive whiteboard solution in class.
Because I’m on Twitter, I’ve helped other teachers get started with a Twitter classroom account so we can chat with other classes around the world. Many teachers don’t have the technology, so that makes starting more difficult. I’m sharing what I know, so I see more of them coming onboard. With our Twitter classrooms, parents can follow us now, so they can see what students are learning in real time.
I’ve been the biggest supporter of Twitter for educators. For years, I’ve not understood why more educators aren’t on it. It’s the best professional development in the world. With technology, I see all these new things and I just want to do it all. I’ve gotten to the point now that I have to choose one of the apps, and one of these things, and try to pick the best one, otherwise it gets too overwhelming.
CLT: Where do you see yourself going in your teaching career?
HL: I’d like to become a literacy coach, where I can help students and teachers, too. With my students, though, I don’t know where it’s going, with the technology changing so much. There’s so many new things out there, so I try to stay on top of things—and always do the best I can. I would love to go to more conferences.
CLT: How have you set up your classroom? Is it a traditional seats-in-a-row model?
HL: No! My classroom is set up in groups. We do a lot of group work and talking. There are tables students can sit at. We do a lot of work with interactive apps, where students can talk about their learning, as well as record what they’ve done. There’s a reading area, a place for all their math with all the manipulatives students need. We also have a whole data center with data finders, where students can track their own data—pre and post tests, etc. Our classroom space fits personalized as well as group collaborative learning.
I try to do as much as I can in a workshop approach. We do mini-lessons, then my students go out and work as individuals, and during reading and writing I can confer with them individually as well. This way they have their own goals—reading books that interest them, and at their level. Math is always a workshop, which could be by skill, or a mixture of levels. While I’m teaching a small group, students can work on computers, or apps, too. Using tablets, students can record how they solve math problems, and I can see it later and use it for a follow-up lesson—in a flipped classroom way. In that way students can learn and do more on their own.
CLT: Heather, you had a wonderful surprise the other day. What was that all about?
HL: This summer, ClassFlow was one of those things that kept popping up in my Twitter feed. So, I created an account to see what it was about. When I did, it entered me into a vacation drawing, and I won a $10,000 vacation! They surprised me in my room with the announcement. I saw all of these adults, and thought it was part of a classroom observation. It was unreal.
CLT: So Heather, where are you going on that surprise dream vacation?
HL: Greece, Italy, and Ireland are my top three places I’d like to go. I don’t have really good reasons why, but I’ve always loved pictures I’ve seen, and the beauty of those places. My students offered suggestions, too, like Canada, and even went to their social studies books for more exotic and unusual vacation destination possibilities.
CLT: Heather, thank you for taking time to talk teaching and for sharing your wonderful vacation trip luck. Enjoy your students and safe travels!
Read more: Contest Winner!