A teacher?! But why?

November 14th, 2017

So. The big question. Why do you want to teach? Well, the answer isn’t as simple as people want it to be. I will still give the simple answer I have devised after trial and error. This answer I have devised with long drawn out conversations where everyone who was interested are now beginning to doze off. My short answer is that I want to make a difference. I want to change lives and grow the future. That seems so simple right? Ha ha. I laugh at your naivety. Education is not simple in any way. We want it to be. Administration, the government, parents, students, and (I promise you) teachers wish, want, beg, and pray it were that simple.

But, alas, it never is as simple as you hope. Instead, it is far more crushingly difficult to achieve the long thought and dreamt of goals of a teacher. We spend our childhood dreaming of the lives we will change and the engaging lessons we will teach only to discover that students are not always so cooperative with your awesome, fun, engaging, life changing lesson you are trying to teach. Kids never cooperate do they? It’s like herding feral cats with a vacuum cleaner. It’s loud, painful, and soul crushing. It’s also entirely impossible.

So, we spend our days doing the very best we can to anticipate any problems we may face as we herd our cats through our class. We hope that the hours upon hours of worrying, planning, and praying to change the lives of just one student succeeds and we achieve our dreams and goals just a little bit.

Or…

We have mental break downs in our cars before going in our homes over how little we feel we have accomplished. We send about 10 minutes worth of Snapchat videos to our friends explaining how our days are going. We talk about how we are so tired that we fall asleep anywhere, anytime. No matter what’s going on around us. We procrastinate on our homework because we are struggling to have motivation at the end of the semester. We watch Grey’s Anatomy because who needs education when I can watch my way into a medical degree. (Insert eternal facepalm here). November is a hard month. No one has motivation or spirit. We are all struggling to just make it to the next thing. No one feels ready for student teaching. We all feel like babies who are about to be teaching babies that are just a bit smaller. We are so close to the rest of our lives that we are having existential crises at the thought. Adulthood?? Who needs that when you can cry your way through your last year of college..

 

Then, all of the sudden, you work with a student on his behavior for one of your many crippling projects. You see this unmistakable change in his heart. You see his drive to please you and do better to get your approval. And suddenly you realize that you actually are accomplishing your dreams and goals in being a teacher. You realize that you are slowly but surely becoming the teacher you have been striving to be for so long. And suddenly it is all worth it. You just have to keep pushing through, and take things one day at a time.

Sample Work

December 5th, 2016

Saturday morning, November 4, 2016

I get up at the ungodly hour of 7:30 am on A SATURDAY to attend an education conference required for class. I begrudgingly get ready for the day and and grab a water bottle as I run outside to discover it is the coldest morning in the history of the universe. The heat in my car takes forever to get going, and my car takes at least 10 long minutes to defrost my windows so I can leave, making it impossible to stop for coffee. This morning is off to a great start as I finally head off for the conference.

While heading to the conference and waiting for it to begin, dreaming about the coffee I now see I had time to stop for, was a terrible experience, the conference was absolutely phenomenal. Gena Southall introduced the keynote speaker, Ms. Dubet, eloquently. The introduction showed us all how down to earth Mrs. Dubet is, and how she is a teacher, just like the rest of us are or will be. Ms. Dubet then began her speech, blowing the minds of every single person in the auditorium. She discussed how important interest inventories are, and how every teacher should give them and USE them. This opened a whole new world for me to be able to get to know my students and make connections with them. Making connections with students seemed to be the unofficial overarching theme of the conference.

We don’t always realize how connections make every aspect of teaching easier. Connections is also why we tend to want to be teachers. Without connections, we can’t make the differences in our students’ lives that we all say is the reason we want to teach. This was made even more clear as we went through the day.

I chose to go to the First Year Teachers session first. I am currently experiencing frustration and apprehension about finishing school and beginning my first year teaching. I feel burnt out on school, and completely overwhelmed with the lesson planning, unit planning, assessments, SOLs, and so much more. It seems there are so many things I have to do all the time and they always all have to be done at the same time. I decided that hearing from first year teachers would be just the encouragement and motivation I need to not take a break after graduation, before finding a job. I was right. These two women talked about taking every scrap of paper and knowledge from any and every teacher, and using anything you can to make things easier for yourself. If someone else did it already, and you can throw it in you lessons, DO IT! Don’t do something new if what someone has done before you will work just as great. They also talked about making time for yourself and doing what makes you happy. This is important for me, because right now, I’m struggling to see that I will be able to do that. This was the biggest thing I got from the whole conference. There is and should be time for you. You are a teacher. That doesn’t mean you are ONLY a teacher. You are a young woman, who has and needs a life outside of school in order to STAY a teacher. Social Life is extremely important to keeping your sanity. THANK YOU!

The next session I went to was the Grouping session done by Ms. Dubet herself. This session was by far the most fun. We learned how to randomly group students, and how to get them working well with each other. I learned some new things about one of my current teachers, Dr. Smith. She likes Netflix binging just as much as I do! Anyway, we also talked about the challenges and benefits of grouping students together. This was eye opening. There were so many things I hadn’t thought of, that will be challenging, however, we also talked about how to head off those issues, and keep things running smoothly. I quite love the idea of grouping students together. My favorite grouping strategy, that I plan to implement in my classroom, that Ms. Dubet mentioned was having core groups of students that are then branched out into new groups on occasion. In y experience this is the best way to get the best group work.

The next session I went to was done by Ms. Higgins. This session was informative, but not my favorite. I loved hearing of her experiences as a teacher, but the information she gave was not as specific or particularly creative as I’d hoped. I was hoping to hear of new innovative ways to set up a classroom. Recently, in an English class, we discussed how neutral colors and soft lighting helps create a space of comfort for students that helps them be more creative and enjoy being in the classroom more. I was hoping to hear of ideas much like this one, but was mildly disappointed. Her stories and experiences, however, were wonderful to hear about, and made me more excited to be a teacher soon.

The last session I went to was a crash course on SPED. This session was absolutely wonderful. They gave us a handout that when through steps of how to deal with certain behaviors of students. The greatest part about this session and handout was that all of the information can be used in any situation, with any class, not just SPED students. I learned a great deal in this session. One of the Session leaders even gave out her contact information to offer help to any current or future teacher who may want or need it.

The sense of connectivity and community I got while attending the conference gave me so much encouragement. I know now more than ever that I am not alone. I am not the only one struggling and stressed out. I am not the only one that cries two-three times a week because of what I am going through with becoming a teacher. This conference was beyond eye opening and informative. I had so much fun, and learned more than I expected to. I am definitely going again next year.

Blog 4

October 7th, 2016

I commented on Courtney and Lizzy’s blogs.

Questions for an English Supervisor:

  1. What is the one thing you would tell any new teacher before they begin working?
  2. What assessments/strategies have you found to be the most affective?
  3. What are some strategies to navigate school politics as new teachers?
  4. What are the best strategies that you think teachers should use to better work with ELL students?

 

Interview Questions:

  1. What about teaching are you most passionate about?
  2. In short, what is your philosophy of education?
  3. In what ways will you help students be successful in the classroom and transfer that success into their lives outside of school?
  4. What are your plans for classroom management?
  5. What are your classroom rules? Do you have any rules for yourself?

Blog 3: Classroom Drama

September 23rd, 2016

I commented on Fannie and Brittany’s blogs. 8

 

Including Shakespeare in the classroom is essential. Shakespeare, and drama itself, can be used to teach many aspects of English. Shakespeare and drama can be used to teach diversity, language varieties, writing styles, reading, oral abilities, and much more. It can even be used to teach confidence in the classroom by getting students reading and acting in front of each other. 14b31787b89721419ac38d1968300165 14b31787b89721419ac38d1968300165

The ASC’s production of Romeo and Juliet at Longwood University this past week was phenomenal. The performers truly commanded the stage and captured the audience in a way I have never experienced before. The performers were able to make the audience feel as though they were part of the story. Their use of emotions to deliver the lines made the play much more understandable. There were many middle school students at the production, and watching them you could see how well they were able to grasp what was being said, and what was portrayed on the stage.

There are many interesting ways to teach drama. A few examples include:

  • acting plays out
  • group read aloud where students wear or hold a prop to indicate which character they are reading
  • read aloud using stick puppets(pictures of characters on sticks)e3aeb71fc752d9aadd6de74416dcce4a
  • group students together and allow them to create their own take on the play and each group act it our for the class
  • take lines from Shakespeare and have students translate the lines in modern English, a rap, or a text message

Taking a difficult play and breaking it down is a great way to help students understand it more. Teachers can break students into groups, and have each group create a character “family tree” so they can see who each character is and who they are related to. Students can even include who the character’s friends are in the tree. This activity is called “Character Connections” in the American Shakespeare Center’s study guide (Morris, 2012).

88682a32fcf6e50657bd6c2880abb65b With Shakespeare, teachers can also teach iambic pentameter by lining students up in chairs and standing to show the stressed and unstressed parts.This activity is described in the American Shakespeare Center’s Study Guide as well.

Shakespeare can also be used to show the origin of many of the words we still use today. d20bcd743e1d01eede1431972ff31f38

The American Shakespeare Center’s study guide gives an abundance of activities teachers can use to teach Shakespeare in the classroom. This guide is extremely helpful in giving ideas that can even be adapted to teach other plays as well as Shakespeare’s plays.

Drama is such versatile teaching tool, and can be used in many ways in the classroom to teach a plethora of things. It is also a wonderful tool, because students enjoy it. Drama is a fun way to get students involved in their learning, and help them solidify it in their minds so they can remember what they’re learning much better.

 

All visuals from Pinterest.com

Morris, C. 2012. American Shakespeare Center Study Guide Romeo and Juliet.

Blog 2: Same Ol’e, Same Ol’e

September 14th, 2016

I commented on Dani and Megan’s blogs.

First, I think it is important we are on the same page as to what “diverse” and “social justice” mean, and what “diverse learners” are. “Diverse” means to be different from each other. “Diverse learners” are students who are different in some way, such as, ethnically, racially, linguistically, or culturally. “Social justice” is the belief in human equality and fairness.images-4

08d6a7c56b577e8209e3a06a0d460f33   To me, a teacher who is effectively supporting diversity and social justice in the classroom is someone who is fully aware of the diverse learners she or he is educating. This teacher is also able to address the topic of diversity amongst the students in her or his classroom appropriately. Doing this would include the teacher being able to provide readings that promote diversity in her classroom in order to show that diversity is important in having a great learning experience. As a teacher, I would do this by using other examples such as having diverse meals. I would ask the students if they would want to eat the exact same meal every single day for the rest of their lives. Their answer being no, I would then ask them to make a list of the foods they love to eat. I would already have a list of foods of my own that I could describe where they came from. This list could be American foods that originated in other countries or cultures (pizza and spaghetti are Italian), or it could be different ethnic foods (Mexican and Chinese). With this introduction, I could then explain to students that spending time with people of different races, ethnicities, religions, cultures, etc. is just as important as having diverse meals. af420b9051b5dfba0d3c1436f8b0c7e5I would also talk about how these very different types of people will all have such different experiences and bring extremely interesting things to writing. I would go back to showing poems and excerpts and even songs written by diverse people and point out and discuss how different their lives could be from theirs and how it is incorporated into their writing. I would then have each student write a short piece about a life experience they have and pair up with someone to see how their lives differ or are the same. I could even show the movie Zootopia or just clips from it to show diversity issues. To bring out social justice, I would bring in news articles on what is going on in todays society with issues such as Black Lives Matter and whether or not to let refugees into the U.S. I would use topics that are extremely controversial and get students to speak up about what they think is fair and unfair. I would also use stories about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Hispanics in California, and any others I can find. Class discussions on this topic would be easy to start and guide down the road of everyone being kind to one another and treating each other fairly in attempt to avoid issues of social justice in their lives. I would show student’s that they have a responsibility to do everything they can to promote equality and fairness for everyone, and they can start in the classroom.images-6

A teacher can have a massive impact on students and how they view diversity and social justice, amongst many other important topics. It is a teacher’s responsibility to show students the need for diversity and how social justice makes it possible to have differences. I want to teach my students about the important of having differences and how they make us grow and give us perspective. Without differences, life would be boring. I also want to teach my students how social justice is what makes diversity possible. Making a stand to promote social justice in their lives is important for them to do now, so that they can do it as adults.

A teacher should also focus on diverse learners. Not only does their race, religion, culture, ethnicity affect how they learn, but can also be different linguistically. Everyone has a different dialect and we as teachers must be aware of this and show students that their dialect is right, but not always appropriate to use. We also often have students who speak entirely different languages and have to figure out how to adapt our lessons to accommodate their linguistic needs. This can be especially difficult, but teachers must be willing to enlist the help of others.”We need a range of strategies to cope with the different students and their challenges. We also need to remember that their challenges are more complicated than just the acquisition of a language” (Burke, 2012, p. 380). If I am ever in the situation to teach a student who speaks another language, I plan to implement practices such as speaking slowly, using gestures, giving directions with illustrations, giving them a partner that can show them what to do, and talking with ELL teachers for help (Burke, 2012, p. 380).

I want my classroom to be an extremely welcoming environment where students feel they can talk to me about anything and feel heard and important. I want students to all feel like they are equal in my classroom, no matter their class, race, culture, etc. All students deserve the opportunity to be heard and learn everything they can.

 

All pictures are from: https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=diversity%20humor%20kids&rs=typed&term_meta[]=diversity%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=humor%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=kids%7Ctyped

Burke, J. (2008). The English Teacher’s Companion: A Complete Guide to Classroom, Curriculum, and the Profession, 3rd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Blog 1: Rags to Riches

September 2nd, 2016

Commented on: Haley & Taylor’s blogs

I was lucky enough to grow up with a father who was willing to be the sole provider for my family, and a mother who was willing to stay home to spend her days teaching me, instead of going to work and building her own life outside of my family. This enabled me explore many topics as in depth as I desired. Growing up homeschooled has its many advantages. Some of which include, sleeping until 9:30, doing schoolwork in PJs, and having family vacations built around history lessons. There are also a few disadvantages to being homeschooled. One major disadvantage for me was not being given a strong foundation in English and Grammar. My education is well rounded in all other subjects and areas. My knowledge and love of English came from my independent studies. The only way my mother could teach English was straight from the textbook and provided worksheets. This facilitated a hatred of grammar. It wasn’t until I reached high school that I began seeing the patterns in sentences that I needed to follow in order to write. I never truly learned the grammar rules or even understood them. I, instead, learned by following the example I found in the books I read in my literature classes. My experience with English was limited, but I still had the freedom and time to do my independent studies to learn all that I could.

I want to teach in a way that I can give my students a similar education as the one I had. One filled with endless opportunities to explore and discover of my own with my mother/teacher there to facilitate and occasionally guide my learning. I want to teach in a way that encourages students to explore what interests them, while also learning all that they will need to succeed in the world and their futures. I hope to instill in my students the same thirst for knowledge that my parents instilled in me. The opportunities that my parents were able to give me through homeschooling is what gave me the desire to learn and to teach.

I am currently learning about assessments and what types of assessments will be most helpful to me and my students. “Authentic assessments of reading employ tasks that reflect real-world reading practices and challenges”(Read Write think). This is mildly overwhelming for me, because I didn’t have assessments in my education. I was so intensely excited about what I was learning that I wanted to talk about all of it with anyone who would listen, which usually was my mother and father. This gave my mother a clear understanding of what I was excelling or struggling with. This, I feel, puts me at somewhat of a disadvantage with my peers in class. To me, this only means I will work harder to understand, so that I may be a better teacher with each new thing I learn.

Having zero experiences in a classroom makes it somewhat difficult for me as I learn how to be a teacher, but I am determined to make it an advantage. I hope that my lacking knowledge of a typical classroom will give me room to create a classroom environment that is better equipped to use what I am learning now, instead of falling into patterns that other teachers tend to fall into. In a class discussion recently, we talked about how teachers can get lazy and lean on the typical lecture style of teaching, instead of continuing to make lessons more individualized to better student education. Because I have never been a part of this teaching style, I hope that I will be at an advantage to stay away from that pitfall.

 

Making the reading process visible through performance assessment. (2016). ReadWriteThink.