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And I would love to hear others share their ideas on what 21st Century Readiness means to them, too!

Thanks for the support, everyone!


First year…check!

Well, I’ve had about a week to really sit and reflect after the last day of school. Wow. I still can’t believe I just finished my first year of teaching. It’s hard to believe that a year ago, almost to the day, I was accepting my first teaching position as a high school English teacher. Thus, without saying anything else, you all know me…and you know what’s about to come…my top ten thoughts on my first year of teaching!

10. ALWAYS have high expectations. (And never accept anything less!) I’ve found this to be true not only in regards to pushing myself with achieving my goals, but in regards to my students’ work as well. There were many times when my students would be frustrated with me for not just giving them the answers or for the “big” project I assigned. Yet, in the end, they pushed themselves to answer their own questions with my guidance and their projects were AMAZING. One student was extremely worried about the research essay/PSA that I had my sophomores complete. “5-8 pages?!? Come on!” I sat down, outlined a plan to get bits and pieces done to help ease some of the anxiety, and insisted it could be done. And, in the end, the student rocked the project and did very well. I then heard, “Thank you SO much! Oh my gosh! I can’t believe you gave me this grade!” (B+/A- range) My reply: “Don’t thank me. Continue reading

How could I forget?

How could I? (HA!) And as some of my students are probably reading this, I’m sure they will laugh, too.

One thing that has really blown my mind is students’ desire to know EVERYTHING about me. Literally. Everything. It’s a bit overwhelming, as I’ve told them every time they bring it up. And I try to tell them that I’m really not that interesting. But they insist I am (I have no idea why) and say that my “secretiveness” makes them want to know even more. With that said, I usually just quickly switch gears and say we are “moving on” (which they also say is one of my key phrases. as well as “does that make sense?”).

It appears that Google is their best friend. That’s right, Google. They love to google their teachers (or at least their English teacher). And they know how to search well…realizing that just typing up my name brings searches of beach vacations to light. They found my English Education Portfolio (which I am quite proud of if I do say so myself) and professional articles and sports clips from my softball playing days. They realized that yes, their English teacher has a “digital footprint.”

What does all of this mean? It means that my students are constantly analyzing everything about me, ha! Seriously! Another example of why confidence is key in the classroom! No, on a more serious note I think it shows that whether we want to or not, as teachers, we lead by example. Having a digital footprint isn’t a bad thing. But our students do not always think that everything they do online becomes a part of their footprint. Thus, a lesson came about from all of this googling taking place. I asked Continue reading

So much to say!

Isn’t that the truth! It hasn’t even been a full week yet, and my mind is already overflowing with teaching ideas, teaching observations, personal learning, and the list continues…Thus, here are a few of the many ideas running through my head:

I love that I have entered a classroom where I can set my own expectations! The students know what to expect, and though there was perhaps some slight resistance from a few lively gentleman, all-in-all, my students seem really great and respect my classroom, my classroom’s rules, and most importantly, seeing the importance of respecting each other.

I’ve realized that the students are VERY interested in every little detail about me it seems, ha! They want to know all about where I went to school too. My favorite two questions so far: “How ‘old,’ I mean ‘young,’ are you?” and “Is this class super big or what?” I just laughed at the first and said, “Moving on” and as for the second question I gently let them know that at VT I taught classes triple the size of what I am working with now…and I was teaching engineers (who <though stereotypically, yet sometimes true> can be a very tough group). Their jaws then drop and they all go, “Ohhhh, wowww.”

My students are very, very smart whether they consider themselves smart or not. I have been very impressed with the quality of work they have submitted thus far and our in-class discussions. I’m so excited to see all of the ideas I have play out and how they respond to them. First up: class nings! I told you all I was going to do it, and I AM! It will definitely be a learning experience for me, too, but just listening to what my students have been saying, I really think this online space will become a great learning space. And if it doesn’t play out the way I hope it does, I’ll definitely be able to reevaluate and rework as needed. I’m just excited to say I AM doing it!

And even though I’ve mentioned it before, it’s so refreshing to be working with people who are open-minded and “get” how students learn today. As always, it’s not about making English class a “technology” class; it’s about utilizing tools and skills to engage students and help students learn.

Anyway, that’s all for now, though I know more will be on the way shortly 😉

One more *big* one…

How could I forget…another big realization that has come after my student teaching is the fact that classroom and university ideas seem to be completely different from each other, though they *should* be working and saying the same things. Let me explain…

As a future, hopeful phd student myself, I have often wondered how my classroom ideas are valued on the university front, and how my university ideas are valued on the classroom front. However, I’ve found in most cases, there are not many intersections. It’s either classroom or university. Research done through university work is completely out there in regards to what takes place in the classroom, yet the research done is taken from classroom experiences. And then there’s question of well, if it’s not university ordained work, is it meaningful “data?”

I’m not sure if I’m being very clear here, so let me try again. I was told that university settings look down on people who get their phd, then teach in the field, then go back to university settings. Basically, too long/far away from the scholarly world. I, myself, have been nervous about passing up on phd opportunities right now afraid I would get out of the scholarly side of teaching and learning, yet greatly desiring the opportunity to teach at the secondary level…the level in which I would hope my research would impact.

Contradictions??? Perhaps. I just don’t understand why both the classroom and university settings have such a “divide” between them. Why I will publish my classroom “research” one day in well-respected journals, and yet reach many readers via my blog talking about classroom “stuff” now??? Maybe I’m thinking too much into this, and maybe one day I’ll have an answer, but I do feel this weird middle phase between one side pulling me to academe and the other side pulling me to the classroom. You’d think both would go hand in hand…

My pet peeve of the moment

Teaching is hard. I’ve already mentioned this. But lately all I’ve been hearing is how I’m going to break down my first year (because every one does), how I’m going to want to quit my job (ESPECIALLY if I work in an urban setting), how I’m going to be incredibly stressed out (since things come up during the day that messes with my “teacher time”), and how I’m going to think I’m going crazy because I can’t do this and I can’t do that…the list continues.

Will I? Really?

I’m not saying I do not value the experiences and opinions of those sharing their stories with me. After all, they have way more experience that I do at this point. Yet, it frustrates me; their comments are my pet peeve of the moment. Continue reading