sarahWe’re excited to welcome Sarah Ross-Koves as our featured educator this month! Sarah is a high school English and Social Studies teacher at Carson City-Crystal High School in Michigan, and also shares her classroom projects and insights on her blog. Keep reading to discover how Sarah became a teacher, how she is integrating technology into her classroom and school, and what she’s reading via NetGalley.

A nice place to start is with your educator origin story – how did you become a high school English and social studies teacher?

Teaching has always been in my soul. My father was a high school math teacher, and I would force my three brothers to play school with me on a regular basis. I grew up in Northern Michigan where I graduated from Harbor Springs High School. I attended Central Michigan University and joined Phi Mu Fraternity. There I earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education with majors in history and English and a minor in speech communications and drama. I graduated in December and had my first teaching job before my diploma even arrived. I taught for eighteen months at Northwest Academy in Charlevoix, MI before taking a job at Onaway Area Schools. I was in Onaway for five years teaching mostly seventh grade English and world geography. While at Onaway, I was accepted to the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program to be one of three U.S. teachers to go to Hungary for a year-long exchange. Sadly, I was laid off and had to give up my exchange spot. Several months later I was hired to teach high school English at Carson City-Crystal High School where I have been happy working ever since. I am married to a chef who works at Alma College, and we have three girls – a freshman at The University of Michigan, a high school freshman, and a third grader.

You also assist with school improvement and technology – can you talk a little about this and any initiatives that you work on? Do you have any goals for incorporating further technology into your school and classroom?

Every year our building and district have to write a plan for growth in our school, and I have been part of this committee for the last seven years. We are currently in the process of evaluating where our students, teachers, and building currently are in an effort plan our goals for next year.

I have been the high school building technology representative for the last five years. This means that I am a point person for technology in the high school, and I assist our district technology director and technician. I am responsible for your student data system, which houses our enrollment, attendance, and grades.

This past fall I presented at both the Michigan Google Conference and the Michigan Moodle Moot on technology in the classroom. In January I finished the last of my Google Trainer Certification tests and am currently working on planning some trainings to be able to apply for Google Trainer in the spring. This past Tuesday I guest hosted a Twitter Chat at #2ndarela on Google Apps for Education.

As our district moves from shared carts to one to one devices, my goal is to go completely paperless in my classroom. In addition I would like to expand my classroom to the world by publishing content with my students and connecting with other classes around the world.

In addition to being an educator, you also run a blog, Kovescence of the Mind – can you describe the focus of your blog? Also, can you explain your blog name, since it’s fairly unique?

Two yKovescenceears ago when I decided to start my education blog, I turned to family and friends on my personal Facebook page for assistance with a name. I could not believe the response that I got. Kovescence if a combination of my last name, essence, and scene. It is a place for who I am as a teacher and what is happening in my classroom. This portion came from a friend. of the Mind is the education portion of what I write about. This idea came from a former co-worker.

Kovescence of the Mind is an online resource for secondary teachers. I currently teach English and AP Psychology, so there is a portion of content that focuses on that, but I also try and provide resources and tips to teachers of all levels and subjects. In addition, homeschool families and tutors can find resources of interest too.

My husband and I started a family blog last month Keeping up with the Koveses to share his recipes as a chef and as a place for me to share my fashions, crafts, and home tips. We did this to keep Kovescence of the Mind educational focused. We just did a cookbook review.

I love your My Classroom and Freebies features – there are so many great resources that you point to, but also original projects that you share with your followers. Do you have any favorites that you’ve found really resonate with other educators?

Thank you so much for checking out those pages. My most popular tip for teachers is the idea to print grading rubrics on mailing labels to make grading quicker. Sometimes I get funny looks in the copy room when I print a stack of labels. In terms of free resources my social studies bell ringers to start class with are popular (the first month is free). My build a neuron project, which uses clay to make a model is a big hit.

Speaking of resources, has having access to digital galleys impacted how you find titles for your classroom and planning? And also your book recommendations for students and other educators?

My membership to NetGalley has allowed me to recommend books to my students in my classroom as well as given me text to share with other teachers on my blog. I really enjoy searching the authors out on social media to share my reviews with them and connect on a more personal level. Some of my favorite titles for the classroom are Zero Day by Jan Gangsei in fiction and Amelia Earhart by W.C. Jameson, Foreword by Gregory A. Feith in nonfiction.

Zero Day    Amelia Earhart

On NetGalley, professional readers (including educators!) can access digital galleys before the book is on sale, but you can also submit feedback about those books directly to the publisher. Are there any specific kinds of feedback that you like to share with publishers about books that are appropriate for the classroom?

I think that publishers should look at the classroom as an often under-tapped market. If a book is right for their classroom, a teacher will seek many options to get copies for the class. My reviews, I hope, provide publishers with information on if the text is good for a classroom library (one copy in classroom) or for shared reading (multiple copies in a classroom) on top of just feedback if and how it could be used in the classroom.

In addition the early access is great for educators looking for the most recent material; this is why I will often request books that would apply to my AP Psychology classes. This is a subject that needs up-to-date texts.

And to end our interview, which upcoming book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about reading next?

I am still working my way through my first-of-the year list because I got book happy during our winter break. I just finished Leadership and Soft Skills for Students by Carey Green, and he did a wonderful presentation to our school. I have Untangled by Lisa Damour and Reading Reconsidered by Colleen Driggs and Erica Woolway on deck. There are so many great books and so little time during the school year.

Leadership and Soft Skills for Students     Untangled    Reading Reconsidered

Thanks so much Sarah, for spending some time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out Sarah’s blog Kovescence of the Mind, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret