In the past, I've written frequently about my relationship with teaching as a career, taking the time to reflect on what my experience was teaching me about the profession as a whole. Now in my thirteenth year as a teacher, as well as being an author and a mother, life has gotten more complicated, and for reasons I don't fully understand, I haven't been as inclined to share my evolution. As an English teacher, though, I understand deeply that stories matter, that the personal is political, and that we learn from one another's experiences. Here are a bunch of the ...
In this post, I share some examples of teachers explaining how lack of books impacts their planning, and a checklist and suggestions for administrators who want to build a culture of authentic reading in their schools.
This year, I revived a poetry station which I haven't used in three years: bibliomancy. In it, students ask a question, and use a special process involving books to write a poem prophesying the future. Reading the questions they ask always gives me pangs of compassion for my students, who are in the throes of adolescence. What caught my attention this year, though, was a new category of questions I had not seen before--questions about humankind in general, and its future.
In my recent post about interviewing, I advised not to speak negatively about yourself or your teaching. Interviewers know there is no such thing as perfection, but we want to get a sense of what contributions you might bring to the job. Sharing negative experiences can spark your interviewer's imagination in unpredictable and detrimental ways. But what if you are expressly asked about an area of weakness or something else that veers toward the negative? Here are some suggestions for responding to questions that open a potentially negative can of worms, without getting negative about yourself or your teaching. Hint: ...
Getting a job requires you to be both principled and strategic. There is a fine line between being appropriately honest, and well, shooting yourself in the foot.
In a demo lesson for a teaching position, make sure to create opportunities for students to think critically. This may sound obvious, but it can be difficult to maintain that space when you don't know the students and you're working in such a high pressure situation. For the members of the hiring committee I was on recently, this became a crucial factor in our decision. Here are some suggestions for making sure the students are doing higher order thinking in a demo lesson.
Be specific. Know examples of your work. Be articulate. Ariel Sacks gives tips for teachers going through job interviews.
In my previous post, I discussed the debate around whether to teach whole class novels. In the field, this conversation can get quite polarized, but we shouldn't be limited to this either/or scenario. As a profession we can do better than a decades old stalemate. I believe we must revolutionize, not drop, the whole class novel. The five strategies below are steps toward that end.
The debate around the use of novels in English classes of all age groups is at least twenty years old, but it remains unresolved, continually bubbling up in blog posts and conversations among a wide range of concerned educators: what do we do about the whole class novel? In this post, I analyze the state of current teaching trends with regard to novels, and offer two propositions for moving the debate forward.
Educators and others who think about social issues--I can use some help: I got into a conversation with students in English class today about sexism, brought up by a pattern (out of the classroom, but among our students) of MS boys making critical comments about girls' bodies. In the course of an energized, basically positive conversation, some boys brought up that girls can be sexist, too. In a moment that I could have handled better, I argued against this, instead of probing further.