“As educators, it’s our job to make sure that we make ALL of [our students] feel loved, valued and appreciated.” – Natasha Rachell, USA
Digital Learning Specialist
Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
When you ask Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Natasha Rachell what she believes is the biggest challenge facing educators today, she gets straight to the point.
“Teacher burnout leading to teacher attrition,” she says. “Teachers are leaving the profession at alarming rates, which leaves classrooms with no teachers or long-term substitutes. With this being the case, students can’t learn the content that will make them successful.”
Rachell is responding to this challenge through her project MentorMeEdu, a virtual mentoring program. “I pair interested new teachers with innovative and creative mentor teachers that will meet with each other virtually at least once a month,” says Rachell. “The mentor teacher and the new teacher talk about successes and challenges from the previous month, and touch base with a different focus each month. These topics range from effective classroom management strategies to how to find digital tools to enhance their lessons.”
“The team at Flipgrid have created a Discovery Library that provides TONS of examples of how to take Flipgrid up a notch,” says Rachell. “My favorite is a Fliphunt, which allows students to engage in the curriculum in a virtual scavenger hunt. I recently did a Fliphunt with a group of educators where I not only took them through an actual Fliphunt, but also taught them how to create them. Going through a Fliphunt as a student first was critical, so they had the end-user experience. Once they experienced the engagement of the activity, they were ready to learn.”
Rachell, like most educators, has experienced heartbreak in her career, including the tragic death of one of her students that devastated her, and her whole school community. “It made me realize that our students are dealing with battles that we know nothing about,” says Rachell. “They have access to things that we have only ever seen on television. At the end of their day, their parents send us the best version of them that they know how to. As educators, it’s our job to make sure that we make ALL of them feel loved, valued and appreciated. That we greet them with a smile every day, and that we fill them with content and knowledge that will contribute to them becoming productive citizens.”
About Natasha Rachell
- Educational background:Bachelor’s degree in Biology Premed; Master’s degree in Educational Leadership; Educational Specialist’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction; finishing my doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Effective Schools.
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology:Flipgrid!!!
- What is the best advice you have ever received? The best advice that I have ever received comes from my mother. She always used to tell us, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In terms of education, I apply this every day when I’m in schools or the central office. Everyone from the Superintendent to the janitors should be treated with respect. None of us are above the other. We need to treat people like we want to be treated.
- Website I check every day: Twitter!
- Favorite childhood memory:My favorite childhood memory is going on summer vacations with my family. As a kid we visited several beaches, Hearst Castle, and Disney World. My mother made sure that we were exposed to lots of different things.
- Favorite book:What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey