By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
Hannah Gottlieb was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula, in and around the Marquette area. Throughout middle and high school, she loved science and thought she would go to school to be an engineer. But early on as an undergrad at the University of Michigan School of Engineering, Gottlieb realized that engineering wasn’t for her. When she became a volunteer tutor, she discovered a love for teaching, and eagerly switched her major to education.
Gottlieb student taught at Tappan Middle School, got a job teaching math at Clague after she graduated, and has been there ever since. During this time, she’s also earned her master’s degree in special education from Eastern Michigan University.
Clague Principal Che´Carter says Gottlieb is an exceptional communicator who builds rapport with students.
“She is an equity leader and reflective in her practice,” he says. “Clague families are very appreciative of the positive meaningful feedback she provides to each student as to their progress in meeting learning targets. Academic outcomes are shared with families at the start of each unit to help keep families informed. Every month she updates her community board. Both adults and students learn something new about an underrepresented population that are doing amazing things in our society. She is standing in the gap for all students and actively identifying people for students to see themselves in the curriculum and the professional world through short biographies and photos.”
In addition to teaching, Gottlieb enjoys baking, traveling, hiking, and reading. She also enjoys driving home to the Upper Peninsula several times a year.
What inspired you to become a teacher? I kind of just fell into it, honestly. I did always enjoy tutoring and math, so it worked out really well!
What do you love about what you do? So much. It sounds cliche, but the kids are the best part. Students have so many interesting perspectives and ideas. They teach me a lot. I’m just passionate about helping them learn and grow as students and humans.
How do you keep students engaged? I do a lot of different things to keep students engaged. One of the most important things, in my opinion, is building relationships with them and bringing in their interests. I also use a lot of group-work and interactive, context-rich activities, which gives them ownership of their work and positions them as experts. Additionally, I don’t mind making a bit of a fool of myself—which I think keeps interest!
What is your first memory of school? In kindergarten, we had a song for the months of the year that we sang every day in English and Spanish.
Describe an average workday. I generally get to work at around 7 a.m. I prep for the day, and then greet all of my students. First hour is Algebra 1 AC, which is a lot of fun. Later on, I get to teach Geometry AC. After these classes and lunch with some of my colleagues, I have a seventh grade advisory. This is my first year with an advisory, and I love it. The social-emotional learning is so important. My afternoons are spent working with students in math support. These groups a lot of fun, because they are small and focus in-depth on one learning target for up to four weeks.
What’s your best collaborative experience with a colleague? I’ve been fortunate enough to have many amazing colleagues. One thing I’ve gotten to participate in is a formative assessment group. Two of us from our building got to design, film, and reflect on lessons together and with a larger group from the district. Some of the particular areas we worked on were peer and self-assessment, which has really helped enrich my practice.
How have you changed since your first year in the classroom? It’s my third year teaching – so I’m sure I’ll learn and change plenty as my practice continues. But in the past few years, I’ve developed my own style and classroom management techniques that work for me.
What’s the last new skill you learned? I just learned about Goobric and Doctopus from my colleague. They are great tools for using rubrics with Google Classroom.
What advice would you give to a first-year teacher? Don’t give up after this year. Just because you’re struggling now, doesn’t mean you always will. Also: Keep everything! Even if an activity or a lesson didn’t work, you can adjust it and you won’t constantly have to reinvent the wheel. Most importantly, though, ask your coworkers for help. They are generally going to remember being where you were, and they’re willing to help out more often than not.
Favorite websites: illustrativemathematics.org, youtube.
Most-used smartphone apps: Probably Pinterest and Instagram.
Do you see a difference in your morning students versus the afternoon classes? If so, how do you adjust to that? Yes. The types of classes are very different. The morning classes are core math classes of over 30 students. The afternoons are small, shifting groups during the students’ elective times. I do adjust my style for the smaller groups, but I try to keep the tone conversational the expectations high for all of my classes.
What is the most rewarding part of teaching? Again, the students. I love feeling like I can make a difference in somebody’s day or even their life by just being a caring adult. When students from previous years come say hi or send an email, it makes me feel like I’ve done my job well.
After a year in your classroom, what would you most want your students to say about the experience? That they felt like they were empowered to learn math. And hopefully had some fun doing it!
What have you changed your mind about recently? Recently I decided that I actually do like cooking.
What do you wish everyone realized about the work of a teacher? That the challenges we face change every single day.
How do you recharge? Matcha lattes, time doing things I enjoy, and plenty of sleep.
Do you have any embarrassing teaching moments you’re willing to share? I honestly can’t think of anything too embarrassing. I make mistakes in front of my students, but I like to think that’s good for them and me! I do always feel really embarrassed when I mix up a student’s name, though.
How do you spend your summer break? When I’m not preparing for the next school year, I like to travel up to Marquette. I also travel with my family. In Ann Arbor, I like to spend time outside—whether that’s hiking, kayaking, or sitting outside of a coffee shop.
What’s most exciting about your professional life right now? Your personal life? Professionally, I’m really excited to be working on my understanding and practice of equity in the classroom and school at large. Racial, ethnic, gender, religious, sexual orientation, class, and other inequities are a real problem and tackling them is both challenging and rewarding.
Personally, I’m really looking forward to my trip to Glacier National Park over the summer.
Finally, are you ever mistaken for a student? All the time.
I remember visiting Clague after I retired from teaching there, and several teachers were raving about you. I kept hearing, “Oh, you have to meet Hannah; she’s the best!”