Heather Wolpert-Gawron is an award-winning middle school teacher who also writes her popular education blog as Tweenteacher. She is a staff blogger for The George Lucas Educational Foundation’s Edutopia.org, a contributor to The Huffington Post, and a fellow of the National Writing Project.
Heather tells her students that she is not a Language Arts teacher, but rather, a teacher in the art of using language. She believes that her role as a writing teacher is to help students elevate how to communicate any content, not just literature. She helps students write, speak, record, construct, and produce presentations. A 21st Century ELA teacher must focus, she believes, on communicating curriculum in an engaging way while teaching students strategies to communicate their passions themselves.
She is a professional speaker, appearing at many educational conferences. She also has designed and presented webinars for multiple educational organizations, websites, and publishing companies. Heather is also a curriculum designer who believes that the Maker Movement for teachers is in original curriculum design. She tells stories through curriculum, and her students play a role in the telling of them.
She is the author of the recent DIY Project Based Learning for ELA and History and DIY Project Based Learning for Math and Science as well as Writing Behind Every Door: Teaching Common Core Writing in the Content Areas and ˜Tween Crayons and Curfews: Tips for Middle School Teachers, all written for Routledge Publishing. She has authored three series of workbooks: Internet Literacy for grades 3-8, Project Based Writing, grades 3-8, and Nonfiction Reading Strategies for the Common Core, grades 1-7 for Teacher Created Resources.
She is wife to Royce, whom she met in 2nd grade, after karate-chopping him at recess. She lives amongst laughter and chaos with her husband, two sons, and their boxer/corgi mix in Los Angeles, CA.
USDOE Connected Educator Profile 2013
San Gabriel Valley Computer Using Educators Outstanding Teacher of the Year (2009)
Dublin Unified Teacher of the Year (2004)
Training teachers and writing for educators helps to recharge her batteries for her real passion in life, that of teaching in the classroom. She has taught 3rd grade – 12th grade, but the fact is, she loves Middle School. Wolpert-Gawron has said, “Middle schoolers are ready to talk and ponder about the big issues, yet still yell, ‘Crayons!’ when the blessed colored wax sticks appear on their desk.Teaching middle schoolers is like working with a herd of wild fillies.You have to rein ‘em in and give them slack, rein ‘em in and give them slack.It’s harder to find a sub in middle schools then in any other grade level. Why? Because they’re crazy.And I love ‘em.”
Currently, Wolpert-Gawron teaches 8th Grade ELA and coaches two sections of a nationally ranked 7th/8th Grades Speech & Debate team. All of her classes are guided by an understanding of differentiated and Project Based Learning. All of her classes integrate technology as a means to teach collaboration, creativity, critical-thinking, communication, literacy, writing, listening, and speaking.
Wolpert-Gawron has taught in many educative models. She has taught in both traditional to progressive schools, from private school to public. She has taught in a magnet school and was even hired to be an on-set teacher for a child on a movie location. Regardless of the model, Wolpert-Garwon learns from each location and model so that her current classroom can be as strong as it can be.
She began her own teaching career in a progressive private school in Culver City, learning about team teaching, collaboration, student-centered environments, and curriculum integration. It was there that she was bitten by the bug of curriculum design. In Culver City, she began an elementary after-school debate team that integrated the Social Sciences, Language Arts, and Oral Speaking Skills. As for curriculum design: the history unit she worked on, “Colonial Willowsburg,” a role-playing living museum that incorporated History, Technology, Drama, Art, and Language Arts was featured in the Los Angeles Times.
During this time, she also worked on the weekends as the Shakespeare director at the Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts (YADA), directing full-length Shakespeare productions for ages 5-65. Working with children and adults alike, Wolpert-Gawron designed sets, taught stage combat, and incorporated Language Arts and History lessons into many of her rehearsals.
From Culver City, she made her way to a more traditional school up in San Mateo, CA. There, her methods of student-driven teaching and collaborative groupings were balanced by lessons driven by more traditional, facing-forward educational models, and she learned that in a true differentiated society, a teacher must teach using both philosophies.
She then joined a staff at a Microsociety Magnet school in Berkeley, CA where each elective model helped to contribute to the running of a mythical city. Not only was she an elementary teacher, she also developed curriculum for their Court class elective, which used a student-created constitution as a means to help with the school’s student-run peer mediation program.
From there she joined the staff of a California Distinguished School in Dublin, California where she taught middle school CORE, honing her passion for curriculum integration and curriculum design into a History/Language Arts/Technology/Character Education unit called “Meanwhile…”She also began a theater company elective that specialized in performing Shakespeare. Her students and programs were featured in both The San Francisco Chronicle and the Tri-Valley Herald.
Upon moving back to Los Angeles, she began working as a middle school teacher in a Title I California Distinguished School in the San Gabriel Valley. Her mock trial team were finalists in Los Angeles County and was featured in The Los Angeles Times. Her middle school Speech & Debate team has been ranked 2nd in their competing category at the state level, in 3rd at Nationals in 2006.
She currently enjoys coaching and collaborating with the hard-working, brilliant members of her staff, and she is happily teaching some of the most fun and dedicated students of her career.