Every year I have some students who arrive to my class with a fear or dislike of poetry. Spending some time away from deconstruction of meaning of poems has always worked to put these students at ease and allow them to open up to poetry anew.
Language can be limiting; it can also be liberating. With that in mind, I wanted to look at some of ways we categorize people and ideas in education, and how they might represent false dichotomies that need to be opened up.
There's a strange power children and adolescents can derive from watching adults be clueless about something they know—it's the role reversal that makes it a novel event.
I share these two stories for the chance they offer to think about the power of our words to students. What sentence will you say to a student--intentionally or not--that will stay with them for the rest of their lives? That might, for better or worse, reframe how they see themselves? How do we show students we see them?
If we provide structure and support for students to raise their voices and take action, they can astonish us with their capacity—and show us a good time!
Now that I've settled in a bit, I'm back to asking the eternal question: can I somehow do it all? Teach, write, lead, parent...and live? The difference is that I used to ask it with the underlying attitude of, "Of course I can!" and then spread myself too thin. Now I ask the same question from a place of, "Probably not, and that's okay; we all have to make choices, but I'll keep asking." This has the feel more of a puzzle than a wall: like when you think you are close to solving a Rubik's Cube, but then ...
Around the end of the semester, I like to use a simple speaking activity that accomplishes several things at once.
As 2017 comes to a close, so does another year of blogging--a practice that's been a privilege, a learning tool, and a wonderful challenge for me for almost a decade. My top 5 posts here at Teaching For the Whole Story speak clearly to the direction my blogging has taken--practical, focused on teaching practices, with plenty of reflection... Here's to continuing to find lessons and pathways in 2018 that work on a practical level AND bring us closer to our deepest purposes as educators.
Reading is a skill necessary in pretty much any academic subject, so we all need to teach it. The eye rolls, however, remind us that we can say this all we want, but that doesn't make it clear how we should go about it, especially when content area teachers are struggling with their own content, pacing calendars, and the same staggering diversity of readers that challenge us in the ELA classroom. And that PD in June? It didn't help teachers make actionable plans, and it hasn't been discussed since. I've witnessed a version of this cycle in every school I've ...
My favorite part of a whole novel study is the week we hold student-driven discussions of the book. Students have completed reading the whole novel and are eager to share and investigate what they experienced. These inquiry-oriented tips have can also be used with other kinds of texts.