Voices in Education

End of School Year Reflections

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May 31, 2017

Why do I teach, you ask?  I teach because it is a highly rewarding and fulfilling profession. Teachers have one of the most important, meaningful, and purpose-driven jobs of anyone working today. We share valuable information and important skills to encourage a love of learning that will serve students the rest of their lives. I do this work because I am committed to having a positive impact on the future of each student that I serve. 

I wake up each morning and serve students at Iroquois Middle School. Being a role model, and teaching students the skills and knowledge they need beyond the classroom, is extremely inspiring and rewarding. No two days in the classroom are ever the same. 

For me, motivation has always come from students in my classroom. I know that it is essential to make lesson plans interesting to get all students motivated to learn. I emphasize the collaborative and cooperative nature of scientific work. I do my best to creatively facilitate and encourage the engaging interaction between students, and provide feedback based on their observations.  

To accomplish our goals, teachers need perseverance, passion, validation, and hope; and today, given all that is happening in the world, it is an excellent time to be a teacher, mentor and role model. 

My former teachers helped me get to where I am today by providing me with an exceptional education. The math, reading, and writing skills I developed as a student supported me in my journey to becoming a successful teacher today. Playing sports and being involved in student government taught me valuable life lessons about teamwork, time management, and responsibility. As a student, I learned the benefits of getting along with people from different cultures, an approach which continues to assist me in my career. This lesson came full circle during recent travels to New Zealand, where I participated in a teacher exchange program. Through the program, I learned from and shared my experiences with foreign educators. 

So many educators had a positive influence on my life. They encouraged me to explore my curiosities, supported me to overcome my struggles, and celebrated my successes. They cared about me, my learning, my life, and they wanted me to find happiness within myself, so that I could be capable of helping others. They inspired me and pushed me to be my best in the classroom and on the athletic fields. I am now trying to pay this positive influence forward to my students.

During my time in the classroom, I have learned so much about myself, my practice, and my students. I pass along these thoughts to others in the education field, but the ideas are transferrable to any profession.

Be persistent. Never give up on students, parents, and colleagues. Everyone is in this together, and it truly takes a village to educate a child properly.

Be open-minded. Listen to other people and their opinions. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make. Communication and organization are essential for highly effective teachers. 

Think positive. There is a lot of negativity out in the world, especially within the field of education. You need to have a positive outlook in order to combat all the negativity.

Try different roles until you find your niche. Spend time with different people and in various extracurricular activities. Use your hobbies and passions as a guide.

Always want to learn. Whether it is a new technology or a new teaching strategy, teachers are life-long learners. We need to be learning alongside our students and show how passionate we are in seeking knowledge. 

As I reflect on my role as a Proud Michigan Educator and advocate for the teaching profession, I continue to realize that teaching is a multifaceted endeavor, and not just a trade. The daily rewards and challenges make every day unique, and most importantly, worth it all.  

Mike earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Oakland University (OU) and Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from Saginaw Valley State University. He also graduated from the OU Leadership Institute, a program designed to further increase their contributions to their community.

Mike taught in New Zealand through a teacher exchange program. Since 2008, he has been a math and science teacher in the Chippewa Valley Schools in Macomb, Michigan. His academic career and experiences have inspired him to mentor others. He mentored students at OU and received university honors: Summa Cum Laude and Keeper of the Dream Award.

Mike Lerchenfeldt

Mike Lerchenfeldt Middle School Math and Science Teacher

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