Michelle Siem

Special Education Teacher

Began at Teachwell:

 2018

Why did you choose this field?

In special education every day is different. I like the variation in my day. I like to be able to create a classroom designed for the individual learner. Middle school has always been my favorite age group. I am always up for a challenge, and typically they have a kind of "out of the box" sense of humor.

What or who most inspires you?

Pre-Kindergarten age kiddos. At age 3, kids are starting "school". Their entire lives are governed by direction, rules, expectations, and they are taught how to think. It inspires me to see these kiddos tolerate all of the expectations at such a young age. They willingly lose the ability to make forts, play pretend, run outside with no destination, color outside the lines, and learn it's ok not to conform. They try so hard to meet the expectations of adults, and give up their own childhood imaginations to please them. They learn it is not acceptable to make mistakes, and therefore do not possess the skills to learn from them as they grow older. Most adults do not come close to making the sacrifices these kiddos do.

What was your favorite subject in school?

Physical Education and Recess

Why Teachwell?

I drove by Teachwell every day on my way to work. Every time I went by , I thought about the name and wondered what exactly do they do. I honestly thought, by solutions, Teachwell provided solutions in the form of providing schools with excess curriculum, or maybe sold bulk school supplies, or went to schools, observed kiddos and developed solutions for problem behaviors and other learning deficits. I was working on the computer one day and just randomly decided to Google it and put my questions to rest. The more I read, the more I thought, this is definitely for me. I would love the opportunity to teach here. I found Lisa's contact on the site and actually applied for an open position. It did not work out, but I knew this was a great fit. I didn't give up, I sent another email asking if, by chance, they had any other positions open. Opening that door led me to be given the opportunity to be a part of the Teachwell team. I am so grateful Teachwell took a chance on me.

What keeps you motivated?

The desire to connect with students. The anticipation of observing positive change. My persistence in encouraging them to be independent, by having a listening ear, randomly asking how they are doing, or just a smile. We may be the only people in their lives willing to intently listen and care about their well-being.

How do you hope to make a difference?

I hope I can open the eyes of these kiddos to see their value. To teach them positive coping skills, increase their self-esteem and constantly reiterate the choices they are making now are not the only choices they have.

Goals for the future?

My main goal is to work hard not to let the other members of my team down. My goal is to create less work for them by figuring things out through trial and error. 

What is your background experience – degrees, experience, skills?

I am originally from Worthington, MN. I grew up loving all things athletic.  I graduated from MSUM with a degree in K-12 physical education, SPED aquatics and physical education with an emphasis in coaching. I have been accepted to grad school in Kansas and will begin online classes to obtain my master's degree in SPED this winter. I have taught PE/health in MN. I have worked in SPED physical education, after school programs, and operated an in-home daycare. In my most recent position, I taught SPED to a group of kiddos with multiple diagnosis and severe challenging behavior. I loved it, I just could not see it as a lifelong career. Now I am here. I know I have so much to learn, but I love what I see.

People would be surprised to know that I . . .

have a small zoo at home. I love any animal with fur. No scales, no slime, no pinchers. Yuck. I have 5 pets with fur, and 3 human animals. Bentley. Bruno, both dogs, Bailey, Ben, and Baxter, all tabby cats. My human animals are Mariah, Dawson, and the lion of the group, Tallon.