Teacher of the Issue: Ms. McMahon
April 6, 2017
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During the course of a student’s time in school, a teacher that cares can make all the difference. A great teacher can show you interesting opportunities you never would have known about before and introduce you to exciting new places and ideas. Lane is fortunate to have many teachers like this, and perhaps no teacher echoes that sentiment more than Ms. McMahon.
McMahon has taught at Lane for five years now, encompassing her entire teaching career. She teaches AP Psychology, a favorite class among Lane students regardless of who is teaching. But McMahon’s students agree she brings something special to the classroom.
Maria Georgas, Div. 882, is a student in McMahon’s class.
“She always makes the classes very exciting and interesting. I’m always walking into class ready to learn,” Georgas said. “She always has great connections to outside world examples like movies or demonstrations: It really helps me to understand the material.”
Students in Ms. McMahon’s class appreciate her use of demonstrations, humor, and interesting examples to enrich their experience.
Marija Cucuz, Div. 853, is in Ms. McMahon’s AP Psychology class.
“She tailors to each student’s learning style and knows how to connect to people,” Cucuz said. “She also makes sure the workload is a good amount to ensure we are studying but not overworking ourselves. She is super chill and makes it easy for students to trust her.”
Ms. McMahon didn’t always plan to be a psychology major. In fact she was inspired by her old AP Psychology teacher in high school.
“I was going to have to go to grad school for something, and then I kind of thought back and the reason I majored in psych is because I took AP Psych in high school and I loved it so I was like, you know, well maybe I’ll go do that,” McMahon said.
McMahon’s class is engaging to students, with demonstrations, relevant activities, and interesting videos always being used to help enhance the material.
“She makes sure to use a lot of fun examples to make sure what we learn sticks with us, and she teaches to make sure you actually know the content not to just memorize it,” Cucuz said.
McMahon’s class has recently been learning about mental disorders, and to show the real-world application, the class has been watching a documentary about a serial killer. The class also did a demonstration to show how mental disorders are affected by a person’s environment and genetics. The demo featured students attempting to make sandwiches with difficult tools such as forks and with bread in varying conditions. The demonstration emphasized the difficulty of making something coherent out of DNA with pre-existing problems, even when given ample time to do so.
Demonstrations are common in McMahon’s class, and students get to do more that just sit in their seats and take notes.
“My favorite moment in her class this year was when she brought in many types of foods and liquids in cups covered with tinfoil,” Cucuz said. “She made us go around the room and smell each cup to go along with the topic of senses. She always uses a bunch of fun examples like that to help us learn.”
McMahon has embraced the college preparation side of her class, and has been trying to expose students to colleges and universities they might not have known about before.
Every Thursday, McMahon takes the first 15 minutes of class to discuss a college of her choice with her students. She calls it “College T-shirt Thursday.” Given that McMahon’s psychology students are juniors, this kind of knowledge can be helpful for the college search.
“I remember when I was in high school I didn’t know about small liberal arts schools, I just knew about the Big Ten,” McMahon said. “And we didn’t have a lot of guidance in high school for that. I decided to start taking a little bit of time to go through it and give students some opportunities to look at some schools they may want to apply to.”
“[College T-shirt Thursday] has helped me by learning what I need to look for in colleges to help me make sure I’m making the right decision,” Cucuz said. “I also have more of an idea of what type of school I want to attend.”