ASCD Emerging Leader — Nicole Lemme

ELA Curriculum Master Teacher
ASCD 2014 Emerging Leader

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Segment I – Background and Inspiration  


Tell your story. Where are you from and how long have you been teaching? What classes have you taught?    – Nicole is a Curriculum Master Teacher for K-12 English Language Arts for the school district of Lee County in Florida. She has taught all levels of ELA which helps in her current role, forming vertical alignment for her district.

Who has helped you in your journey to become a master teacher?  – Her career as a teacher started as a child. Her father was a state teacher of the year in New Jersey. She enjoyed watching him engage with his students and she wanted to be a part of that magic. 

It is important for other teachers to know that we all have had setbacks in the classroom. Identify an instance in which you struggled as a teacher and explain what you learned from that experience. – In her first year, Nicole was asked to do a pre-reading lesson on The Grapes of Wrath. She planned this amazing lesson and had students listen to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is My Land.” It was an ESOL course and there were 11 students that represented 11 different countries. Hence, this land was NOT their land.  Yet, it turned into a discussion about the songs of their native lands. 

What is the challenge in teaching?  – There is a huge challenge giving relevant and timely feedback. Nicole is looking at digital tools to help solve this problem.


What is one thing that you love about the classroom?    – The absolute love for the profession comes from the proverbial student who asks, “how did you get that from one paragraph?” learn to think for himself or herself and do that level of analysis on their own. 

Segment II —

What book do you recommend to a teacher that wants to develop? 


What is one thing a teacher can do outside the classroom that can pay off inside the classroom? — Nicole takes the time to read for pleasure. Certainly we need to read our curriculum, but we must re-engage with pleasure reading because the more teachers do that the more they can stay excited about books and have great conversations with students.

Is there an internet resource that you can recommend which will help teachers grow professionally? — 

Nicole recommends that new teachers join organizations like NCTE, ASCD. They give you such great exposure to a wide array of professional reading.  Also, she recommends free professional development opportunities like Twitter, Talks with Teachers Book Club, or MOOCs.

Provide a writing practice that is effective?  –  She encourages other teachers to have students frame conversations in class with claim, evidence, connection. It improves the quality of discourse in class, which then results in better writing later on. 

Update the cannon. What books belongs in the classroom?