“I’m kind of a big kid myself, so working with this age group helps me stay young.” – Mike Sears
Now in his 19th year of teaching at Shaker Middle School, there’s not a lot that Mike Sears hasn’t seen or heard from middle schoolers, either as a social studies teacher, Model U.N. club adviser, or lead chaperone for the annual eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C. (That’s a lot of time on a bus with middle schoolers.)
Personal: Married to Kristen Roope, library media specialist at Boulevard and Fernway. They have three children, Noah (13), Mabry (10), and Charlie (6).
Main gig: Eighth-grade Social Studies teacher
Other duties: I sponsor the Geography Bee and coordinate the eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C. I started the Model UN club, and was an advisor for it for 12 years. In the past, I coached soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. I look forward to coaching sports again when my children are out of the house.
Why middle school?
I enjoy teaching middle schoolers because they are still kids and they generally like being at school. They are curious and creative. They also have really big hearts, and are incredibly caring. I have seen them spend hours raising money for causes like fighting muscular dystrophy and the Cleveland Food Bank.
What’s your secret to connecting with kids in this age group?
I use humor often. I also talk to them about their interests, activities and sports. We discuss current events. I try not to take my class or myself too seriously, but I also model my expectations for appropriate behavior and effort while they are in my classroom.
What do students like about the Shaker Middle School experience?
They like being more independent than they were in elementary school. They like finding places in our community where they belong, whether through drama club, music, sports, Science Olympiad, Model U.N., or Latin Convention. They like learning with their friends, and expressing their opinions about topics they are studying.
What are the biggest challenges they face? And how can we support them?
One of the biggest challenges I see them struggle with is how friendships change during middle school. I think listening to their concerns is the best way to support them. They need to know that there are caring adults in their lives who will help them successfully navigate their teenage years.
Best part of your job?
Working with so many amazing young people and their families here in Shaker Heights and having the opportunity to meet an entire new group at the beginning of each school year. Who else gets to start their job over again once a year?
Toughest part of your job?
Working with students who are struggling because of things they can’t control, and wondering if there is more I should be doing to help them find success in my classroom and in school.
For extra credit: Middle School kids say the darndest things.
The day after the 2016 Presidential Election, a student asked me, “How did Trump win? I only saw Clinton signs.” This question was the perfect introduction to our lesson that day on the Electoral College.