Educator Spotlight: Meet Mike Mohammad
With science teacher in Wisconsin, learning is interactive, engaging and fun
This story is part of a series that celebrates Teacher Appreciation Month. Each day in May, we will introduce to you an outstanding educator within the Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
Forget lectures. In Mike Mohammad’s science class, he’s using bowling balls and sledgehammers to teach.
Instead of standing idle in front of a lab, he’s setting up stations for his kids to pick and choose, moving about to help them here and there. There’s tech, tools, experiments gone awry and a really cool teacher at the helm.
“I want my students to remember these days in class,” says Mike, who teaches high school physics in Brookfield, Wisconsin – just north of Milwaukee. “I’m pretty introverted, so the classroom is where both my students and me can have a bit more freedom. I want the experience to be fun for all of us.”
Finding Ways to Engage
Mike has been teaching secondary science for about 20 years. He set out to be a doctor but changed course when he realized he didn’t want a career in the operating room. Much like the way he takes charge of his classroom today, he boldly decided to become a teacher instead.
“I never really even liked science in high school,” Mike admits. “When I took physics, I didn’t even know what physics meant! But once I realized in college that science can be really hands-on, I had so many ideas I wanted to bring into the classroom. I have really, really loved it so much.”
Today, his teaching is playful and energetic. He keeps his kids intrigued and puts himself at risk just to prove a lesson. He’s fun and engaging, and he excitedly uses tools like Flipgrid to better connect with his students and to show them his appreciation.
It’s incredibly important to Mike that his students feel seen and heard.
“Flipgrid has dramatically changed everything I do in the classroom,” Mike says. “I get to see my students show a completely different side of themselves – a creative side they wouldn’t be able to express in any other way. I’ve been amazed at the variety of ways students can actually communicate with me.”
Lately, he’s been using it as an assessment tool – allowing students to present their findings in a video – but he advocates heavily for using the Shorts camera, too.
“I like to record a video for each lesson, walking through lab procedures when written instructions aren’t the best, so they can see what actually needs to be done,” Mike says. “For me, it’s all about the usability of the Shorts camera. It’s such an easy video creation tool for the students, especially with screen recording. It’s really been powerful.”
Collaboration and Innovation
His own growth has, too. In 2017, Mike was awarded the Institute for Personalized Learning’s Trailblazer Award and last year presented at ISTE on student agency in the classroom. He shares ideas and stories with educators across the world on his personal blog and is always eager to collaborate.
“I have been co-teaching with physics for the past three years, and she has been doing a great job advocating across content areas and working really hard using Flipgrid as a form of communication for the students,” Mike says.
He also recently collaborated with a kindergarten teacher in his district so his high school physics students could teach the little ones about sound and waves by creating pieces of music on Flipgrid.
Even in remote learning, Mike innovates to keep all students invested, curious and having fun.
“I already knew my students were great,” Mike says on his blog. “But their willingness to reply with genuine empathy to the littles was great. When I started watching them, I have to admit it got a little dusty in the room! They showed me something very special.”