Teacher Resources

Profile Lori Barber

As a child, Lori could not decide whether she wanted to be a nurse or a teacher. Then, two things happened. She served in the U.S. Army for two years during the cold war (1987-88) in West Germany, and got to see something of the world. And, when she returned to the US and was serving in the Michigan National Guard, she enrolled in Morris Thomas’ world regional geography class at Lansing Community College. Her experience being stationed overseas and the passion that Professor Thomas had for his subject drew her to geography. So, after graduating with an Associates Degree from Lansing Community College, she went on to Central Michigan University as a Secondary Education student with a major in geography and a minor in history. She was mentored there by Dr. Michael Libbe. Upon graduation, she came back to Lansing to teach, and started at Sexton High School in 1995. She later got her Masters Degree in geography teaching from Western Michigan University and is working there on a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership.

Lori feels that her military experience gave her the confidence to be an effective teacher. When she was in high school she was that shy, quiet kid, who usually knew most of the answers but was afraid to raise her hand. So she could never get in front of her peers. The military gave her a lot more self confidence. And with that self confidence she came back to the US and decided that maybe she could be a teacher, maybe she could actually get up in front of people and share the knowledge she had gained.

Lori teaches four classes of freshman world history and geography. She also teaches the AP Human Geography class. Like most teachers, she has seen many changes during her 16 years in teaching. For example, the curriculum for freshmen started with global studies, went to world geography, and now it is world history and geography. A teacher needs to be flexible.

When preparing her lessons, Lori begins by looking at the establish curriculum--what is expected in a particular course. But, then she tries to use a variety of strategies to meet the objectives because she recognizes that her students learn in so many different ways. She has a very high transition rate in her school, special education students, students reading at different levels, and several ESL kids. She must accommodate all of these students in her planning of units and individual lessons. So she consciously considers, for example, the multiple intelligences as she prepares—one lesson may focus on a debate, another might involve movement, another could include drawing maps, while another focuses on cooperative learning.

Lori is active in a variety of professional organizations both at the state and national levels. She feels that her involvement with these organizations has made her a much better teacher. She does workshops in geography for secondary school teachers helping them integrate geography into different areas of social studies education. She goes to conferences in Lansing, in other parts of Michigan, and across the country. Doing workshops and attending sessions at conferences exposes her to ideas and resources which add variety to her classroom. But, more than that, she gets to interact with other teachers and with content area experts. She feels that collaboration is the best thing in education. If you don’t have it you are not going to grow as a teacher.