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.
[Guess what? I actually wrote this post a whole year ago. Then life got messy and I started questioning everything about myself as a teacher, and well, like a kid who thinks the paper they just wrote might be terrible, I just abandoned it. But tonight, on New Year's Day evening, I opened it up and have decided it's time to share. I did split it into two posts because it was really long, so the next one will come soon. Maybe if I can send these out into the Universe, I'll be ready to write again. Fingers crossed.]
As I let the dog outside this morning I noticed that it is still snowing. It started on Friday about noon and it's now Sunday morning. I don't know the official total but I do know that my fifty-pound dog is now wading in the snow. He's too tired to leap around like he did yesterday. I'm guessing we're close to 20".
At about 11:00 yesterday I rallied my three children (age 15, 14, and one month shy of 13) to don their snow gear …
I'm getting ready to return to school on Monday. I have a lot to write about last semester, but first I'm going to venture further into the question: how do we help the kids who feel unreachable, the ones who seem driven to cause chaos, pain, and suffering to everyone around them? For me, this has been a week of learning about the toughest kids we have and it started in an unlikely place: with witch doctors.
I'm often reading four books at any given time: one adult novel beside my bed, one adult novel on my iPad for reading on the treadmill (in the snowy winter); one book to listen to in the car; and one YA novel as a classroom modeling book. My in-the-car book is usually nonfiction, sometimes biography (I listened to Michelle Obama's Becoming recently); sometimes self-help and motivation (like Good to Great by Jim Collins); sometimes something historical like The Boys in the Boatby Daniel James Brown. And sometimes, a book for no known reason crosses my path an…
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…