Reflections on Teaching High School Readers and Writers
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For months now, our team has been planning a TEDx event at my school. This Friday is IT! While it's been A LOT of work, it's been so worth it. The twenty-one students who are speaking are amazing! Check out my blog post here.
My class was set up as an intervention, a remediation, a fix-it for students who have fallen behind, fallen off, or fallen out of favor, I’ve learned. It’s convenient to think we’re fixing problems, catching them up, helping them succeed.
It’s a nice game we play when we set up interventions.
I do not, however, see my classroom the way others might. I do not see a workshop for the broken, a repair shop where I take apart, analyze, diagnose, mend and put back together; a place where I patch and plaster, covering cracks and flaws and shining them up until they’re ready to be sent back to the world, sewn up, fixed, healed and good as new.
Instead I see my classroom as a haven, a safe oasis, a place where being you is the best thing this world could ever have. I see my job as cracking open, leading out, uncovering the lost humans who were buried under the avalanche of other people’s massively broken expectations. I see my r…
It's December and that means the end of the semester is rushing at us, faster than Joe Rantz's boat in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin (sorry, just reading The Boys in the Boat...fabulous, by the way). Despite the fact that I allow retakes on every assignment all semester, somehow the realization that it's December wakes up many of my students, and now the work pours in. There are also final projects, conferences, revisions, book groups, portfolios, grading (and more grading), study sessions, finals ... and stress. DID I MENTION STRESS?! Students are stressed. Teachers are stressed. And parents are definitely stressed.
This is the time of the year when I wonder why I didn't take a sabbatical this year. I could be in the English country side, curled up next to 17th century stone fireplace that's hung with fresh pine boughs and ribbon, sipping a steaming mug of coffee, the snow softly falling outside the window, all while writing that book I've talked about for yea…
The yellow school bus unloaded and the kids climbed up the stone steps of Memorial Union, into a small room with black and yellow folders laid out for them on the rows of tables. I could almost hear their thoughts, "Great. Back in a classroom. Some field trip this is."
They dutifully filled out information cards and listened to a bubbly blond admissions rep describing Columbia, the University, admission to MU, grade and test requirements. They were quiet, going through the folder, processing the information. The presentation ended with a college freshman who shared about her experiences and students got to ask questions.
And then, the tour guides arrived.
Faces lifted, eyes widened, and the kids sat up straight in their chairs. The line of real college students filed up the middle aisle like a small army, and heads turned to follow them to the front of the room. They introduced themselves, and when it was time to go, kids sprung out of their chairs to follow the guide th…