Educator Spotlight: Meet Andy Plemmons
School librarian in Georgia uses Flipgrid for classroom projects that span worldwide
This story is part of a weekly series that celebrates outstanding teachers in our Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
In a bustling school library in Athens, Georgia, teacher Andy Plemmons watches warmly as a student picks up a book from the shelf.
She holds it closely, opens it slowly, smiles maybe, holds it a little longer.
Then, suddenly, he hears a voice. But it’s not her voice. It’s the voice of one of her classmates, speaking excitedly, confidently and genuinely about what the book is about. And that voice is not standing next to her in the quiet library, pushing her to read. Instead, it’s within a little video about the book, maybe thirty seconds at best, that this classmate of hers recorded perhaps long ago, in the privacy of her home, replenished from the last page.
It was enough. The student raises her eyes, exhales, checks out the book and leaves the library, already eager to prepare her own testimony of said book when she finishes no less than two nights from now.
And Andy saw it coming all along.
Embracing Innovative Learning
Andy Plemmons has been in education for nearly 20 years. He’s a teacher in a library, yes — arriving daily to a room filled with used pages and low tables and squeaky chairs, maybe a cozy corner or two. But the learning thrives because of how he chooses to offer that space — not merely awaiting a book assignment, but showing students the many alternative ways to engage in their own learning.
“Early on, I adopted this motto of ‘Expecting the miraculous’ — leaping into things knowing that it may not go exactly the way you plan them, but if you look closely, even in the chaos there are miracles happening around you,” says Andy, who was one of the first to discover Flipgrid over five years ago.
With that optimism at the helm, he embraces technology, collaborative conversation and experimentation in his classroom, and he trusts that new learning platforms aren’t meant to overwhelm his students, but to remind them of their capabilities. Allowing the students to create book reviews on Flipgrid is an example of this endeavor.
“A lot of times, you read a book and return it to the library, but you don’t get to know much about who else is reading that book or what they thought about it,” he says. “So a group of students worked with me last year to create Flipgrid topics for different books — we put a QR code inside each book, so when somebody checks out the book, they can scan the QR code to hear from a fellow student what the book is about and what the previous reader thought about it! It’s been amazing.”