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Munger figures out the puzzle in teaching

As a second grader sitting in her grandmother’s classroom, Michelle Munger remembers thinking her grandma was the greatest person and teacher. She watched her prepare lessons and deliver them. Munger eventually ended up following in her footsteps, in a way.

“She was a lot like me,” Munger said. “She raised her family and then went back to school to get her teaching degree.”

Munger just graduated from Augsburg College in the spring with a degree in education. This year, she is the new special education teacher who splits her time between Pinecrest and McAuliffe.

But it isn’t her first experience in the school district. Munger had two children go through the district schools and she worked for 11 years as a paraprofessional at Hastings Middle School.

In addition to starting her new job as a teacher, Munger is also going to school for her master’s degree. She said she has always loved the classroom and enjoys learning herself. She will be doing mostly online coursework throughout the school year in addition to teaching.

Munger said she is very excited about the new school year because she is in the driver’s seat now. She is the teacher instead of a paraprofessional, so she will be the one designing lessons, measuring their effectiveness and assessing them.

“It’s like you’re trying to figure out a puzzle of a student and what’s going to work and it’s a challenge and it’s fun and it’s invigorating,” Munger said.

One way Munger plans to figure out those puzzles is by getting to know the kids and building relationships with them. If a child likes Spiderman, she said she would add Spiderman into a math word problem to just make things more interesting to them. She said she wants to build lessons around the child’s interest to really intrigue and capture them. This could include playing games that get the lesson across, plus it adds a fun flavor to the atmosphere.

Technology is another huge component that adds to the learning atmosphere. However, it should be used with caution, Munger said.

“It’s not the technology that is teaching them,” she said, “it’s what is enhancing the lesson.”

Munger is always researching new ways to utilize technology and find different techniques for teaching. What makes all that work worth it?

“The look in their eye when they go ‘Oh, I got it,’” she said. “It’s really that look and then watching them build on that.”

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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