“I just try and make them as involved in what they’re doing as possible.”
It’s cold outside and after two flights of stairs the warmth of the hallway is welcome. 1C-300 is one of the less frequented hallways on campus, yet there are still many classes here. Several science and Spanish teachers call this area of campus home.
1C-307 is the penultimate room on the left. The door is propped open with a stool and light spills out into the still-relatively-dim morning corridor. It’s first period and students are still rubbing sleep from their eyes; one even has a blanket wrapped around themself. The room is full and posters cover every inch of the wall. Assignments without names are posted on the fume hood, while backpacks line the counter to the right when you walk in.
Despite her tired students, Environmental Science teacher Amanda Martingano is ready to get the day started. Having been out once already this week for an injured shoulder, Martingano starts up the projector while warming up the class. Today is Wednesday and the class’ test on population ecology is in two days.
Once she has the class ready to begin, she asks them to take out their phones and log into the Kahoot displayed at the front of the classroom. Students’ names don’t appear in the lobby of the game as usual, but rather nicknames such as CrazyTiger, FastQuail, and SillyFerret. Once everyone is logged in, Martingano begins the game and starts her lesson for the day. These sorts of technology-integrated lessons aren’t uncommon in her class.
“Technology is great and it’s frustrating at the same time because if we’re talking about something in class, and one of them asks a question, I’m like, ‘Oh, go look it up,’” Martingano said. “They’ll pull their phone out and look it up and find the answer. I like that part of it.”
Despite the benefits that technology can bring into the classroom, Martingano still grapples with students daily about staying off their phones and being focused and present while learning.
“It’s hard with the phones because when I was in school, we didn’t have them,” Martingano said. “I’m 32 years old and my cell phone looked like what looked what you would see a digital clock look like and only played snake on it. You were terrified to take it out because you would literally get in so much trouble. Now, they do everything on their phones. To be honest, I feel like it really limits them and what they’re able to learn, especially when it comes to to the way that they write and answer things.”
Even despite the distraction that they bring, Martingano is winning the battle against distractions by integrating them into the classroom.
“I just try and make them as involved in what they’re doing as possible with the lesson so that they’re not on their phones,” Martingano said. But I do give them time where they can pull their phone out. . . I do allow for them to do that. Because I know it quiets the class down when they have their ear buds in.”
“‘Oh, no, it’s for you!'”
Martingano graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s in Education and a Master’s in Special Education with a background in science. She began her teaching career at Ormond Beach Middle School in 2009 and has always taught in a co-taught classroom, meaning she has always taught in a room that has a mix of ESE and general education students.
Some teachers take a year or two to get in the swing of things, however, in 2009, Martingano hit the ground running. That school year she was nominated for the FUTURES First Year Teacher Award, which recognizes beginning teachers who go above and beyond to ensure that their students are learning well, as well as the Co-Teach Team of the Year Award with her co-teacher at the time. She went on the win the award for Co-Teach Team of the Year.
Martingano really stood out from the crowd as a first year teacher because her school at the time had never nominated a teacher to receive the FUTURES award before.
“When I was nominated for [FUTURES] it was a big deal. My administrator came and told me, ‘We haven’t really nominated a person before,’” Martingano said. “I thought it was pretty cool because I was like, ‘Oh, that’s great, I’m flattered.’”
Martingano’s prowess as an educator has only grown since her time at Ormond Beach Middle and this year she has already been recognized for her commitment to her students and the school community by taking on things such as SGA and becoming a weightlifting coach.
“One day all these administrators came in and they’re clapping,” Martingano said. “I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, what is going on? Just take the student you want to recognize’. . . And then they turn around to me like, ‘Oh, no, it’s for you!’”
This sort of kindness and friendliness is something that Martingano has found plenty of since starting at University. She goes on later to cite assistant principal John Devito’s Detweeto awards and the community that they help to foster on Twitter.
“I finally got my Detweeto which was really important to me because I don’t do Twitter,” Martingano said. “But when I came to the school they’re like, ‘We really want you to go on Twitter.’. . . but then we’re looking at bugs underneath microscopes. I got some really cool pictures of them, so I was like, “Alright I’ll post it!’ So my first post was a microscope picture of a fish’s head. I got the fish to hold still underneath the microscope, so that I could stick my phone in there. And it was the craziest thing. This little fish did not move, because he knew I wanted a picture of him!”
“That’s my favorite part of my job.”
Martingano loves her students and loves to joke around with them. All throughout the day she cracks jokes and pulls pranks on them.
“I get the kids so bad,” Martingano said. “We were doing a lab one time where I had made ice cubes. I made them blue with food coloring and I told the kids that [I used] the blue tablets that you put in the toilet. I told them that that’s what I had put in the water. And that I’d used toilet water to freeze. So, I’m sitting there holding the ice cubes and I’ve got like this blue stuff all over my hand. I’m putting my fingers in my mouth just nonchalantly and the kids are so grossed out and I’m like, ‘What?’ And they’re like, ‘You’re drinking toilet water!’ Then I had to stop the class. I’m like, ‘You guys realize that I’m joking with you 90% of the time and do you really think that I would play in toilet water?’
Her classes are used to her jokes by now but still fall for them frequently.
“We were out in the parking lot counting cars and we were the teacher parking lot,” Martingano said. “As soon as someone walked near my car I hit the alarm on it and the kid goes running across the parking lot!. . . I had told [the students], ‘Don’t touch any cars these are teachers’ cars, these are students’ cars, don’t touch any of them.’. . . And then I come around the corner and I’m like ‘I told you! What did you do? What did you do? Did you touch that car? I told you not to touch that car!’ And then they look at me and all of a sudden I just start grinning and they’re like, ‘That’s your car isn’t it?’ And I say, ‘Did I get you?’. . . It’s hilarious!
Her sense of humor meshes well with her students’ and helps her love what she does. Being able to get to know her kids and have fun with them is what keeps Martingano coming back every day.
“That’s my favorite part of my job, playing pranks on these kids. That’s probably my favorite part.”