Matthew McCormick, Woodstock Union Middle School

posted Jan 2, 2017, 4:57 PM by PLP Pathways   [ updated Jan 5, 2017, 12:50 PM by Don Taylor ]
Matthew McCormick is a sixth-year educator at Woodstock Union Middle School, where he has taught 7th-grade English and Global Studies since 2014. Prior to that, he taught a variety of middle school subjects in Fairbanks, AK. Before beginning his career as an educator, Matt worked as a journalist, ski bum, trail worker, and, improbably, gun store clerk.  

This summer, Matt attended his first Middle Grades Institute at Castleton University. It was during this week-long session that he first became a believer in the move toward personalized education and PLPs. The framework provided by PLP Pathways, which was modeled extensively at the institute, helped him make sense of how he might implement PLPs in his own classroom. 

Matt came away from MGI inspired and gung-ho, ready to put into practice all that he had learned at MGI. He had it worked out perfectly in his head: Students would start by writing about themselves and who they are, transition to setting goals for who they would like to become in late fall, and by spring would be ready to investigate opportunities for further exploration. Then students entered the classroom and all the answers he thought he had morphed one-by-one into questions: How can I make PLPs a part of the curriculum, not something "extra" that is disconnected from daily learning? What makes a good "academic" goal, and how can I model that for my students? Why am I having trouble convincing students to buy into this process?

Matt is grateful to have colleagues both in his own school and elsewhere in Vermont who reassure him that such questions are not a sign of failure, but rather the type of reflection PLPs are designed to inspire in our students. Struggle is good! 

When he's not pondering how best to teach his students, Matt enjoys reading, running, hiking, skiing, birding, and fishing. He lives with his wife and one-year-old son in Plymouth, VT.