About the Introduce Yourself category

Tell us your name, where you teach and what subject area(s) you teach.

We also want you to share something about yourself, what we call a microtalent. Tell us about something “small” you’re good at. Something unusual, even silly, maybe from an odd corner of your personality/identity. For example, choosing perfectly sized storage containers for leftovers or folding a fitted sheet perfectly, etc. If there’s a small story that explains it, we’d love to hear it.

After you have introduced yourself please read several people’s introductions and engage with at least three people - pose a question, offer a comment, or show appreciation. Alex and Alice, our two course facilitators, have already introduced themselves in the forum.

Hello everyone!

My name is Peter Woods and, currently, I don’t teach anywhere! I live in Milwaukee, WI but work at MIT where I helped design the curriculum for this PD experience you are about to embark on. That said, I used to teach math at IDEAS Academy (which has since changed its name to Etude High School), a project-based learning focused school in Sheboygan, WI (about an hour north of Milwaukee… or 3 hours north of Chicago).

As for a microtalent, I do a real mean dolphin impression. I have never had a need to do a dolphin impression, but one day I will find the perfect use for this talent.

Hi everyone!

I’m Alex, one of the facilitators. I’m a Project-Based Learning Coach and Designer and I’ve been with MIT for five years. Before that, I worked in high schools in Louisiana and Texas for ten years, mostly as an English teacher and instructional coach, then briefly as an assistant principal before moving to MIT.

I’m now working remotely in Claremont, CA where my wife is a philosophy professor. As for a microtalent… I seem to have a knack for spatial estimation, especially when it comes to putting leftovers into containers (hence the example in the prompt…).

I also spend a lot of time trying to direct my energy away from screens (the remote work life has magnified this need), so over the pandemic I took up typewriter repair (having long enjoyed and used manual typewriters as a kind of anti-perfectionism tool… I may have tendencies…), and, later, dove into restoring old solid state stereo receivers and vintage speakers (very much learning as I went). Lots of opportunity for… let’s call it “mindful practice” and slow reflection.

I feel like it’s a very belated way of learning science and engineering concepts that I missed in my humanities-driven youth. I also figure since I work in project-based learning, it’s only right that I should, you know, do projects and learn from them.

Anyway, enough of this confessional spiel–I’m really looking forward to talking with you through the course. Feel free to reach out with questions, thoughts, and any of your own favorite tangents.



I’m Milly, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT working on designing project-based learning curricula for high school geometry. I am based in the Bay Area and am working remotely. My background is in mathematics, and I’ve taught math for a number of years at the college and middle school levels. I’ve also been developing math curricula and engaging in mathematics education research (trying to understand how people think about, learn, and teach math).

In terms of microtalents, I am most proud of my ability to fall asleep (almost) on demand. My family used to travel a lot when I was a kid, and I could knock out on trains, planes, cars, buses, behind sofas, and really anywhere else. It is a talent that now serves me well as a mom of a toddler who wakes up pretty regularly in the middle of the night.

Looking forward to exploring PBL with you all!

I look forward to hearing your dolphin impression, Peter.

Hello everyone,

I go by the name Willers and I am taking a gap year having just graduated from MIT with a technical background. I’m planning to get a PhD as I enjoy research and would like to become a professor one day, and I’m with STEP this summer as a researcher to explore the field of education research. Although I haven’t formally taught as a teacher, I have been a part of many education outreach programs as curriculum designers, organizers and tutors for students ranging from six-graders to college students to incarcerated adults.

As for microtalent, I’m very good at jump roping (like doing tricks, doing multiple bounces per jump, and crossing the ropes with unusual body positions) because that was the only “sport” I had access to besides basketball in middle school.

Hey! My name is Dylan Brown and I teach at Lane Intermediate School in West Allis, Wisconsin, which is just outside Milwaukee.

My first 4 years in the district, I taught 8th grade Balanced Literacy and Social Studies, then last year I switched to 7th and 8th grade Social Studies exclusively. What I’ll be teaching next year is still a little up in the air, but it’ll be one of those two. Probably.

My micro-talent is thumb wrestling. I honestly cannot remember the last time I lost a thumb wrestle and I wrestle an awful lot of thumbs; mostly because every time this comes up, I find a new challenger looking to claim the title.

Man, every time I go to put left overs away, I end up cycling through like 3 pieces of Tupperware, when it could have all fit in one.

Teach me your ways!

I could certainly use some thumb wrestling tutelage… I think my thumb could go the distance, yet… decidedly mediocre results. I have no clue how I learned to optimize the leftovers, but I do seem to remember some not-exactly-related experiment I did once with putting a bunch of water on a shallow plate and getting a sense of how much volume a wide and shallow container would take versus, say, a tall and narrow one–somehow getting an intuitive feel for that ratio (as an admittedly reluctant math person).

Hello everyone!

My name is Crystal Michels and I teach at Minot High School - Central Campus in Minot, ND. I primarily teach 10th graders and some 9th graders. I teach all sorts of courses depending on what students enroll in from ELA to Speech to Theatre to Journalism to Writing Skills.

My micro-talent is that I can name any pop, rock, or punk (some rap, but never country) song generally in 10 seconds or less. I thank my parents for this since they listened to a variety of music and had music playing all the time while I was growing up.

Hello! I must say that I wish I could do tricks like that with a jump rope. My hand eye coordination (or lack thereof) makes it difficult. Cool tricks!

Hi Milly! I too have that talent. :slight_smile: Mine comes from working overnights for 2 years. You have to learn to do it or else going to sleep with the sun up is rough. My husband is quite jealous.

Hello Everyone,

I am Kyle Malin and am currently a School Counselor at Lane Intermediate in West Allis, WI.
My microtalent would be that you may not want to play me at foosball, because I’m pretty decent at it and none of that spinning business allowed.

So you are a modern day, human version of Shazam. That is pretty cool!

I indeed can confirm his thumb wrestling abilites.


My name is Chris Brown and I currently teach language arts and debate to 9th and 10th graders in Minot, ND. This upcoming fall will be my fourth year teaching.

Regarding my microtalent, the first thing to come to mind is my ability to research and obtain obscure replacement parts and manuals. I ran an electronics repair shop for 5 years. Through that experience, I became adept at diving deep into the archives of the internet in hopes of bringing something currently dead back to life.

Excited to learn more from the crew!

Take care,

Best of luck on your repair projects! Solid state hi-fi repair can be a real challenge sometimes; I wish you all of the luck tracking down genuine output transistors and the like.

Perhaps you can compile a tape of fake out field recordings for a musique concrète and see if anyone notices? Just spitballing over here.

Hi everyone!
My name is Alexis and I am a little late to this party.
I teach 8th grade English and Social Studies at Lane Intermediate School in West Allis, Wi.

My weird talent is that I always manage to order the best thing at a restaurant. My husband used to get so mad because he’d always like what I ordered more than his own meal. Eventually, he just started copying my order every time!

1 Like