Curator Spotlight: Melissa Mirabello

August 16, 2016   |   By Alicia Barnes


Melissa Mirabello is a high school English teacher with over twenty years of experience teaching students of all different levels. When she's not bringing her boundless energy and enthusiasm to the classroom, she builds collections of teaching ideas and resources on BloomBoard, covering broad topics like establishing classroom norms and voice in writing, and specific books like The Catcher in the Rye and The Stranger.

We chatted with Megan about using hooks and warm-up activities to set the stage for class, the teachers that made her want to become a teacher, and her goal this year to narrow the achievement gap for her minority students.

1. What's one of your favorite collections? Could you go into more detail about what led you to create it and how the resources you found made a difference for your students?

I enjoyed creating my collection entitled, “Anticipatory Sets/Hooks,” because I know that teachers often struggle with student engagement and these resources will help them inject energy and enthusiasm into the beginning of their lessons. Hooks are a teacher’s creative way to set the tone and introduce the content or skill. My journalism teacher in high school was an engaging educator with a quick smile – that alone drew students in; however, he asked us to begin each class by sharing our daily editorials. I used to write my opinion pieces on cocktail napkins because I completed them while working at a restaurant. I can still hear this teacher’s laugh as I pulled a napkin out of my notebook on the first day that we shared our writing. He told me that I wrote like Andy Rooney, and from that day on, all my editorials appeared on a napkin.


Using “hooks” is not a technique unique to education. Movies have trailers, books have introductions, and companies use short advertisements to gain their audience’s attention. Fortunately, many teachers capitalize on the same strategies that marketing firms use to capture attention. In my political science class in college, my professor used the “Warm-up Strategy” idea listed in the collection. This agree/disagree activity not only promotes physical and mental activity, but also requires students to “sell” their opinion to other students. In college, we were often asked to agree or disagree with bills, amendments, and other political events. I expect that many teachers will be using the presidential race to talk about a number of different topics ranging from the Electoral College to media manipulation, and the role of gender and race in American culture. The disagree/agree warm-up strategy is an excellent choice as a hook for these topics.

2. Tell us a little bit about your journey as an educator that we can't learn from reading your formal bio. What made you want to become a teacher?

My path to becoming an educator was certainly not predetermined at birth or hinted at during my childhood. I did not experience an epiphany one day or feel that it was my “calling” at any specific time. However, when I think about the people that I admire the most, they were all teachers. My dad taught me about the value of hard work and perseverance. My mom taught me that everyone needed a champion and she was mine.

My two favorite English teachers in high school made me laugh, think critically, and enjoy writing. They also taught me to create and explore my mind and heart. And finally, my two children have taught me how to be a mom: to be patient, warm, and never give up on anyone. My students and what I teach is extremely important to me. I love reading and writing, so talking about it all day feels natural and comfortable. I also love the human spirit and hearing others’ stories. I am nourished by my students’ voices and the hum of human hearts wide and expansive in my classroom.

3. What kinds of professional learning experiences did you pursue over the summer (books, articles, conferences, etc.), and how are you preparing for back to school?

This summer I am enrolled in a leadership course for my 092 certification program in administration. While not reading about school improvement, policies and practices, I listen to NPR, reread books that I assign my students during the year, and catch up on some personal reading. Presently, I am reading Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and rereading Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I usually prepare for the new school year by familiarizing myself with my students (via PowerSchool information), reviewing last year’s instructional practices and assessments, mapping out units, and vetting new materials or content for my classes.

4. What are your professional learning goals for the upcoming school year?

My professional learning goal for this year will focus on narrowing the achievement gap for minority students. I will employ a number of instructional strategies and team-building exercises to foster students’ personal and academic growth.

View all of Melissa's collections on BloomBoard or jump to one of our favorites:

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