Michael Bonner is a visionary leader and elementary teacher from Greenville, North Carolina. His teaching approach and innovative thinking have garnered national recognition. To prepare Michael for his keynote at InstructureCarn, we asked him five questions: 

Q: Why are you excited to speak at this year’s InstructureCon?

MB: I am excited about speaking at InstructureCon because it is always a pleasure to collaborate and interact with new teachers. It is through honest collaboration on the things we do within our respective school district that we will improve for the better! Plus, I love going to the circus!  

Q: When did you discover your talent for teaching others?

MB: I never thought I would be an educator. My initial goal like most young men from a small town was to succeed in professional sports. After an unimpressive college career and increasingly becoming bored with the tedious process of writing papers for psychology, I switched to elementary education. This decision was fueled by the powerful energy called love that kids give off every single day. After I picked elementary education, I knew that with this specific age range through developmental psychology that I would have the highest percentage of making an impact on their individual lives.

Q: What is one thing people don’t understand about their child’s learning?

MB: Before they can understand the child, they must dissect the environment the child comes from and what is being taught in that environment. This is what creates the unique personality and behaviors that each child possess. A better term would be individuality. A mediocre educator will say the child cannot learn based on their circumstances. A distinguished educator will understand that there are multiple factors that lead to students being successful within their classroom. Also, we are at the precipice of an educational revolution. Meaning that, teaching students the necessary content is extremely important. But more than ever, we should be focused on our classroom learning environment and pedagogies producing phenomenal human beings who have the intellectual ability to dissect information and formulate their own premise based upon facts.

Q: How do you expect education to change in the future?

MB: I expect us to understand as a profession that in order for us to improve, we must understand our history and present circumstances. We should look at that "data" through an unbiased lens. From there, we should be able to determine the necessary steps that need to be taken in regards to equity and financial investments. If we can do this, I believe we will benefit from the technological advances and new research based studies that are becoming prevalent in our profession.

Q: Given that this is InstructureCarn, what is your favorite memory of a carnival or circus?

MB: I can remember reading about lions and elephants in books in school or even seeing them on the National Geographic channel. I will never forget when I saw those two glorious animals for the first time in person at the Barnum & Bailey Circus. The adrenaline and pure joy that rushed through my synapses and veins will be a moment I will never forget. Now, I work hard to create those moments for my students. Because after all, this is what life is about. Creating an unforgettable experience.