Moving On in Mrs. E’s Classroom

Heyla, my students continue to march forward in their perspective courses. Hoping I can offer some ideas or base models for you and your classroom.

4.15.16_blackout_poem_2English 9 – We are now moving into our next unit which focuses on research skills, poetry and figurative language. Students are required to research a poet they choose and provide a presentation of their poet and how their life gave them inspiration in their poetry. They then have to present a poem and point out figurative language. To practice this we read Poe’s, “The Raven” and looked at figurative language. As well, we did black out poetry with pages from Dicken’s “Great Expectations” because the vocabulary in the book is good bring up the depth of knowledge of a relatively pretty easy activity.

Speech – My students are working on persuasive speeches and I model it for them doing a speech about “The Semi-Colon Project” and actually how we need to target the things we can change as a society for teenagers such as; poverty, drug use, abuse and stigmas. Again, I am focusing on my students evoking because they very much understand “woke” and I want them to see and practicing, “Evoke”. This also can very much tie to an argumentative paper they are writing for me for dual credit English.

English – We are working on argumentative paper where students must demonstrate 51o9m1i4H2L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_argumentation skills and persuasive techniques. We are finishing this up, so that we can prepare and move into reading my favorite book to teach which is Tennessee William’s play, A Streetcar Named Desire. I love teaching it because of the dynamic characters. To prepare to read it we actually look a lot at literary theories of reading to help students find way to more academically articulate what they are reading and how they are reading it. The method I use to do this is via a lecture that I created. It is not too exciting.

Mass Media – We are finishing up listening to our podcasts and I assigned a photo story where students had to tell an autobiography of their lives through a series of 10 pictures with no captions. After that I am not sure where we will head. I have been thinking of shifting one of my projects around to do a social media viral video. I just don’t know if I want a remake or a newly created one. We shall see. It is still in development.

Next time I check in I will likely have some more exciting activities. A lot of what we are doing are building up to more exciting projects.

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Let’s see where I left off…

It was probably week # 4 into 5. Once we were in throughs of The Crucible and Animal Farm and not much was happening my classroom blogging went quiet. So to catch you up to where we are today.

English 101/Dual Credit English – We finished up The Crucible and I always have my students act out the final act where they can maintain the story line, but change up the language and settings. They always do so great with it. This year was no disappointment. I even had one group flip it into a pirate setting. Woah…did they have fun! After that we always finish up with a Socratic Seminar, which brought up some great conversation.

Then we moved onto rhetorical analysis. To help introduce the language we read a few different articles and practice it. The three are linked below:

I have been working with my juniors a lot with the word and concept of “evoke”; this rs=h_176.jpegidea to make their writing and analysis/synthesis of it should be looking at it to evoke. These three articles all do that. The first creates tons of controversial and anecdotal evidence of gender and language differences in the classroom. Then the 2nd article also allows for some understanding how much power language in general has which in this article comes from both the author and the topic that the author talks about. And finally, Laura’s resource is amazing at the “ick” factor and really get the students to focus in on the words being use. Which is a great place to start when learning how to write a rhetorical analysis. They are working on final drafts for their papers right now.

English 9 – My students just finished reading Animal Farm and wrote a paper and completed a presentation on theme within the novella. We are moving onto poetry and I really want to jazz it up this year. Every year I feel like I teach it the same way and it is just not doing it justice especially because the large amounts of poetry that is being mass marketed to all teens in the aisles of grocery stores now. I need to help them read smarter and more analytically. It is just such a great opportunity. Within that learning I plan to go over and work more on writing process. I think I will use a version of The Townie Teacher’s Writing Boot Camp. They will be doing research on a specific author and presenting their work while also dressing as their poet and memorizing a poem.

Mass Media – My kids are currently working on podcasts in class. I always start this unit with another resource from Laura Randazzo. Can you tell I just love Laura? If you can’t…you should know this…I do. She has some amazing and highly engaging resources for ELA classrooms.

Limetown_logoFrom there I found an awesome resource on The Moth (podcast website) for educators. I then turned it into a my assignment sheet. My students and I listened to Limetown Episode 1 and the kids get hooked. They love the drama, sound effects and story line set up. It also gives a good example of that specific type of podcast. Then we listen to the narrative type of podcasts posted on the Moth website which I give them which you can see here. My requirement for the podcast is 5-8 minutes of podcast and one commercial that demonstrates for me a clear understanding of who they think their audience would be for their podcasts. For example, a podcast targeted for teenagers maybe selling hot cheetos. They love listening to each others and they love creating them. I also include information about storylines.

Speech/Dual Credit – My students are finishing up the Inquiry speeches which is a speech where I allow the students to become researchers by creating their own human behavior experiment that they want to explore. They must track their research as they would in science with lab notes. They must have a driving research question, present their own results and then what they learned about themselves as researchers. This is a great example of informative speech and it also allows for their own self reflection as communicators. It also incorporates the use of data in visuals which they need to practice on. We are moving onto special occasion speeches next.

We just ended our 9 weeks and are heading into the 2nd 9th weeks. This year seems to be flying by. But life is good. I feel like we have finally hit our stride in Mrs. E’s class.

 

 

Week # 4 Into 5

This week is a weird week because we have professional development on Tuesday. So we go Monday and then we have E-learning Tuesday and then the rest of the week is normal. The bad part about the new school year is momentum gets squished by days off. But it is all good.

Dual credit English – We are taking a break from our college curriculum and heading into some English 11 with Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible. We have been studying the history of McCarthyism and the Witch Trials. As well, I have been setting the stage so to speak for Puritan culture. I think sometimes the toughest connection for students to make is understanding the culture of the times. They apply our cultural norms and it doesn’t always make sense. For example, John Proctor cheats on his wife and his wife is NOT happy. Most kids don’t understand why she doesn’t kick him out and get revenge on Abigail. This week finally we dive in and just read and act out the play.

I usually teach drama key terms and stage production during The Crucible and I usually will use youtube videos of the play to reinforce those terms.

Dual credit speech – The kids are taking their first Unit # 1 test over chapters 1-4. We move really quickly since it is a college course. They are also doing their demonstration speeches. We started those on Friday and they will likely take us at least a week or two. We also start unit # 2.

24250701English 9 – We are reading Animal Farm and we read 2 chapters a night. I do a pre-reading activity that is kind of unique. But my students love it. They enter my classroom and there is a slide up on my board. The slide instructs them that I will not be participating in class today other than as an adult in the room. They have a list of tasks to complete for the period. However, they need to design the English classroom for the day how they believe to be most efficient for them. What usually happens is anarchy and serves as an awesome lesson we get to compare to the whole time to Animal Farm. Animal Farm is a satirical novella about animals that create their own society. My students love this activity.

Mass Media – We are recording and editing our “Day in the Life of…” videos where we are all Youtube stars. My kids always love this one and have so much fun with it. Then I will be introducing culture jamming/propaganda and I will share those resources with you next week. My students will create a culture jam and this always brings out the coolest projects. I love this assignment.

Step Into It.

She sat alone and thought I’ve got to find a way to take a breath because I literally feel like I CANNOT breathe. No really like I CANNOT breathe. So she takes a breath and another. And another for good measure. But that tightness still sits on her chest, a brick ready to sink in and revealing what is really on the inside and her secret will be out.

But she wondered, “What secret is she really hiding?” That she was meant for this and built for this. Is that such a bad thing? Maybe someone will make fun of her or find a way to jab her from the right and the left in quips that are meant to filet. (You don’t get to do that she says in her head. But her mouth utters nothing and she shakes her head in agreement. Bullshit…speak up!!!)

Because in her experience that is usually how people strike. They don’t strike straight. What ever happened to those people in Gwendolyn Brooks poem? Did they grow up? Did they just say they strike straight? Or did they just nod and let someone bulldoze them over?

We strike straight.

I always took that to mean being real and being honest. A trait I learned as a young 17 year old girl who had a boyfriend who was just a little too controlling. My response to his final command was, “No thank you.” Okay or maybe something a little less polite. But the power of that word.

She found her no in that moment. She found her ability to take hold of her breath and not hold it for so long. She breathed. She breathed in and out steadily. So what happened? What happened is she grew up. She found her dreams and she lived in them, so she dreamed bigger. She dreamed bigger and better and instead of saying no which creates a road block. She said yes which leads to a vast opening.

An opening of insecurity wrapped in self doubt, wrapped in minimizing herself, wrapped in being small and unheard and behind the scenes. Giving her words to others to speak so she could shine through them and noble as it was, it dulls her. Dulling her words dulled her and that brick. It is back. Holding tight and sinking fast. Her words falling out of others mouths. Over and over again.

She watched her words on the page. She even liked them a little. Okay not a little a lot. But putting them out there, a quip here. A jab there. She cannot breath through that and what happens if you cannot breath? And all the feel good sappy crap runs through her mind, why fit in when you were born to stand out, but is it that simple? Hell no it is not that simple.

What if they don’t get it? Or worse they get it and they hate you for it. I’ve have seen that side of people. It is ugly and it hurts and then we are back to that breath. She CANNOT breathe. She understands the game they are playing. You are not fitting in cause you are standing out and that is a threat.

And damnit. The words of so many….

“I don’t want to and cannot afford to fit in” – Brene’ Brown

“A larger part of why I don’t want to be boastful is because I learned a long time ago that I was a little girl who had no clue what she was talking about. Being big while also being small is impossible task for anyone.” – Rachel Hollis

Yes damnit. I hear you. I hear you over and over and over and I get it. But sometimes being small is easier because it hurts less. But damnit it feels so good to be my big ol’ self. The one with the accomplishments that are NOT minimized. The one who did just do all of that and is okay if you see it, know it and hear it. Oh and even better she can breath. She breaths just fine and sometimes I am her. And other times I am not.

But I will get it. That is the optimist in me. But the pessimist exists too. She is the one with the brick. But she is me and I am her and with that….Deep breaths, no smallness, only you and only stillness. They don’t matter. You matter.

Go. Hit publish. Step into it. Be bigger than your biggest fear.

I am her. -MR

 

In Mrs. E’s Class – Week # 3

In my Speech Communication classes the last week and half I have been laying the ground work for academic terms and understandings of the basics of communication. We discussed the following:

  1. social construction theory
  2. communication frames
  3. rhetorical situation
  4. communication theories
  5. Rhetorical triangle

IMG_2125This is where communications gets a bit more bookish. We did complete the 15 minutes of fame speech and they did amazing. I also introduced our next speech which is a “how-to” demonstration speech. We have been researching some speeches and sharing. They start those and have a test over their first unit (Chapters 1-5) the next week. We will then dive into unit # 2 (Chapters 6-9). We use The Art of Public Speaking by Stephan Lucas.

I always do the speeches for my students to see what I am looking for. So this week I made chocolate chip cookies for my students to see how to make them and I presented it as a speech.

In my English 11/English 101 course, we continue to also study rhetoric. We finished up the_crucibletalking more in depth about rhetorical situation where I introduced them to the academic terms to explain rhetorical situation. These would be terms like rhetor, exigence, rhetoricians, and the like. We also began to talk about rhetorical analysis. My first introduction to rhetorical analysis is an important one because it is the first skill they need to perfect to help them in their other college courses.

I have found I have to make it relatable. This year I used hypothetical situations in which they judged one’s rhetoric. For example, a mad customer at a store, a tension filled ex situation where you want something back from the ex, a parent that you are in trouble with. We determined the most effective rhetoric.

We also practiced proper email etiquette in academia. Our students will often work with professors outside of school at other universities, so learning to speak the language is so important. I have a fun little activity to practice this. Please email me if you want it. I am happy to share free.

We are moving into reading The Crucible next week. We will start with reading, “Half Hanged Mary” by Margret Atwood. My students love this poem every single year because it really introduces us to the life of a Puritan and sets us up for a better understanding of how the Salem Witch Trials even happened because inevitably every year kids struggle to understand how things could have gotten so bad. We will do some activities to aid us in that understanding and then dive into the play. My students always really like this one.

UPDATE—> Forgot to add that there is a movie coming out on Starz about Atwood poem. It is called ROPE’d. I have linked a trailer for it. Also important note Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood is dedicated to Mary Webster of “Half Hanged Mary”. 

In my English 9 course, we have been working on our personal narrative drafts. This has been a lot of you write, you share, and we critique. We have also worked on defining and understanding author’s purpose and main ideas. We have read Poe’s , “Cask of downloadAmontillado” and O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” to also help us understand those ideas. I also printed out a blank story line and asked them to plot out their own narratives to see if they could identify any weak areas. Final drafts are due next week. Then we move on.

In my Mass Media class, we are finishing up presentations about Mass Media examples. I have some really amazing presentations. They have been things like Fort Nite, KPop, Music in general, Disney, and Call of Duty. Our next project we are going to into exploring is the idea of being a YouTuber. We are recording, “A day in the life of…”

Week # 2 – MR’s Classroom

These are the weekly happenings in MR’s classroom this week. We are moving strongly into academics and exploring ourselves, exploring others speaking positions, or media and what makes it considered “mass media”.

So this week with my dual credit English courses we will be exploring academic language and the privilege it provides us. I usually explore this through David Bartholomae’s academic article, “Inventing the University” which allows for some deep academic discussion of what makes things “scholarly” versus just good. I purposefully maxresdefaultmake the material hard, so I can gauge where everyone is at. We read sections together, then they will get some tough academic questions that I have them “translate” into language they better can understand and then they answer them. All of them introduces to the fact that college is a performance that always starts off with us not knowing.

Then we will move from that article to “Shitty First Drafts” by Anne Lamott. Students will find this much more accessible and we discuss a lot that you are not supposed to start out sounding amazing. That is just not a reasonable goal or expectation. They are also currently working on essay # 1 which is due Friday. It is an identity narrative. They have three options for which to choose to write an essay. The first is an extended name narrative, the second is using “This I believe” narrative prompt, and the third is an identity recipe centered around a metaphorical recipe of what makes you or a literal meaning of a recipe that you can share that will tell some sort of narrative maybe of family or culture.

In my English 9 course we are reading “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe and I am using Laura Randazzo’s materials for this. She is amazing and has some of the most engaging materials I have ever used. My textbook has this same story but it is not as visually appealing to my students has her hand out. As well, the questions provided in her handout create the best discussion points and as an aside….my students LOVE anything Edgar Allan Poe. I also will be teaching her lesson of O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” which is by far my favorite short story to teach. I am a true Victorian era enthusiast so it fulfills that need. In the mean time, they are getting ready to write a simple personal narrative, so we are learning elements of that, as well as, learning the basics of MLA. The only trick here is I write with them on my apple TV, so they can follow getty_615072736_357887along and make their MLA template for the year for my class and others.

In my dual credit speech, we are still working on starting Secondary Sara’s “15 minutes of Fame” speech from this post. The kids are loving it and having fun with it. I have quite a few drama kids this year, so the idea of using a persona of someone else was extremely appealing. Those speeches start Friday. In the meantime, I am lecturing quite a bit on the basic elements of speech and communication.

In my mass media class, we started exploring what makes media “mass” and they are completing that by researching and preparing presentations on a mass media of their choosing. They will start presenting those presentations on Thursday. I am really looking to make sure they understand how media reaches the masses. I made the assignment sheet for this assignment, so if anyone is interested just be sure to send me an email or message and I will email it. I love sharing my own created resources.

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Hope you have an amazing week teachers!

 

Keep them close.

TheKey2

Picture from Bam Radio Network.

Imagine this…it was my first year in the classroom. I did not go to school for education and had zero classroom management skills. In fact, I didn’t even know what that word meant until about 4-5 months into my high school classroom. So when a student acted up I let it frustrate me and I took it extremely personally. That usually ended up with me writing referrals and my principal sending them to in school suspension. They would come back even more mad at me and even more disruptive to my classroom and here in lies the cycle of dread of going to work.

I hated coming to work and I continuously looked at classifieds because I figured it just meant I was not cut out for this stuff. My boss was patient with me. My colleagues were great at giving advice. But it took time to see that didn’t work and what I was lacking was me in the classroom. I didn’t believe in that way of handling things.

I had an epiphany. Classroom management to me seemed to be something that maybe I could compare to raising children. Was I sending my daughters to their room when they were making bad choices? Was I taking what they were doing personally? Was I immediately disseminating a punishment?

My answer to all of those is no. I never did any of those. I am an empath and carry all the emotion that comes with that. If people around me are miserable….chances are I am as well. I have to be really careful with that and what that can look like in my classroom because it can derail teaching very easily.

So I took a ‘mothering’ approach. That meant we talked about what was happening when those issues would arise. I also didn’t give them the opportunity to escape the conflict. They had to look at me and discuss the behavior and choices being made. Just as I would my daughters. What I eventually realized is that most of the issues had nothing to do with me which allowed me to dismiss the feeling of it being a personal attack. It also allowed me to deal with the behaviors from a much different perspective.

I also found it very important to sit down with them. Something about being a teacher towering over a student in a power stance just never sat right with me. I am not in this for the power of the position. I am in this so they can find the power of their own voice and I have zero desire to take away that power because most do not even realize they have any sort of power. Power is a funny thing in the classroom and it is delicate and based on the make up of a classroom you have to be very aware of the use and abuse of it.

The term “keep them close” has been on the rise in the social media teaching world. This idea to not do referrals and not send students out of your room. As I was reading about it I realized that is what I have been ascribing to all along. This idea that we are not sending our problem onto someone else because of the message that it sends to the student. This idea that a student is not worth my frustration, aggravation or attention. That is the opposite of everything I believe deep down in my soul.

Once I let go of this idea of what a teacher did in those tense situations my classroom management skills got so much better. Some may see it as too squishy (aka motherly) and that is okay. But let me be clear, my students will tell you 1) they respect me (and my squishyness) 2) Also, they know good and well when that line has been crossed with me.

As well, I have some rules that will also get you sent out of my classroom. They are repeated tardies and violence or threats of violence. I will tell you right now I have rarely/if ever had those issues at all.

I just choose to handle the issues that arise in my classroom myself and I actually pride myself on that. Because sometimes that maybe what the hope of the issue is…that a student will be sent out and not dealt with. I feel like instead I am sending the message of importance of what we are doing in my classroom. I also operate from the idea that students want to do well and that I expect that before I expect misbehavior. But I also remember they are human. PERIOD. They are going to make mistakes. I am going to make mistakes. So we make mistakes together and create an a forgiving atmosphere that allows for those mistakes. And then we move on.

Year # 9 – Day # 1

In schools all over teachers will share their rules, their syllabai and play their ice breakers. Me. Not so much. I hated that as a student and even hate it more as a teacher. My school has 10 class periods. Imagine hearing 10x you can’t and you can statements. I don’t fault teachers for this let me be clear. I actually applaud teacher diversity in every single aspect, and if school is supposed to be a microcosm for life then differing teacher opinions and procedures are a must. So go for it you syllabus toting, rule tellers on the first day teachers. You have my support 100%.

IMG_3891I don’t really have rules. I have a golden rule. RESPECT. I cover that the first day and every day. Everything begins and ends with respect. I also follow it. I have notes almost every where I stand or sit that remind me I am working with humans. To be human is real and that is imperfect and it just what I want. A safe environment to make mistakes and try again or try something different. Risks. They must happen, too.

The first day for me is usually unique because the majority of my students are juniors in a small school which means they know one another well. That also means ice breakers are not really needed, or at least traditional ice breakers. My actual goal for all of my classes is to build a respectful community of learners. I teach two junior classes. I teach freshman composition (dual credit English) and I teach introduction to communications (dual credit speech).

In my speech class, we dive right in. I assign our first speech because we will do more activities in English with the same group to go over how things work with MR’s classroom. Every year I have taught speech I always start with an introduction speech that we do using music. Students are required to pick 5 songs that share the story of their life that they want to tell. I share mine on the first day as well, so as an aside:

Last years five songs to get to know Mrs. E….

  1. What Its Like – Everlast
  2. Keep Ya Head Up – TuPac
  3. Hollaback Girl – Gwen Stefani
  4. She will be loved – Maroon 5
  5. Beautiful – Eminem

Every year they do change, but you get the point. I pair them up with someone I know they do not hang out with and they tell their stories through their songs. Then their partner does a speech telling their story through their songs. It allows me to assess their public speaking capabilities and it gives them some comfort because they are delivering their speech with a partner beside them.

This year though I am changing it up. That lesson after 4 years feels a little played out. I 20120802-141021.jpgwill likely narrow it down to just one song for introduction purposes this year and make it more improv. For their first speech, I am going to utilize a resource from Secondary Sara with the goal of being more purposeful in connecting speaking to real life. They will be researching and working on how public speaking is used in real life and emulate it.

At the conference I went to this summer, I got to hear a teacher from Illnois speak from Teach Better and she introduced this method (the Grid Method) of tying the real world into our classrooms and it has sparked some creativity in me and I am going to toy with it this year and see where it takes me.

In my English classes, I am also changing it up. In the past I handed out an index card or a post-it note and had students finish the sentence, “I am the one who…” and they had to share a fact with the class that would stump the class. The goal is to be the last one standing who no one can figure it out who it is. This worked nicely because as I said these kids have been together for awhile. It also let them see they needed to pay more attention to those they are spending so much time around. But again same ol’ tired feeling on this one. I want something new and more meaningful for my students.

And enters “Honoring Your Name Narrative” from Britt Hawthorne. Though it is not a source you can download, it was an idea sparked from her instagram stories (believe it is in her highlights if you want to find it) where she discussed the importance of having a student share their name stories and it aids teachers and peers in understanding their name, backgrounds and stories more. What I liked specifically was that it is not teacher centric on a students name and instead in student centric which I pride myself on in my classroom. As well, the first essay my students have to write for me is tied to their identities and their name if they choose, so it will help me to scaffold that learning. I also plan to show this video:

Now I teach two other elective courses…the first is Mass Media (10-12th grades) and the second is traditional English 9 (Grade 9). Those courses are little more structured because they are not college courses. The curriculum is pretty well set up for me, but on the first day I still do not go over rules and syllabai. However, I usually will do a writing activity that pertains to the course.

For mass media, we will look at one news story and see how it is covered by multiple sources and we define what ‘media’ is together. We usually do this in a scavenger hunt sort of manner and for English 9, these students are brand new to our school and usually brand new to each other because we are set up like a magnet school, so I take it slow with some writing, some partner discussion and then I ease into a more meaningful icebreaker.

And there you have it…what it will be like in MR’s classroom next week. I really like my students to get a feel for my classroom because I know it is pretty different from what they are used to and I want them to feel safe with that. That takes time to build that community.

Year End Wrap Up – Mrs. E Style

Ummm, Sorry about that I guess I am a month late. Sometimes you really do need to IMG_7700recover from the school year and that is certainly me this year. It is a was a great year professionally. It was amazing year in my classroom. However, there were a lot of sleepless and worrying nights of just being a teacher. I know at this point the saying that teaching is the only profession where you stay up worrying about other people’s children is cliche at this point, but it is so true. Our youth are struggling, exhausted beyond measure from pressure from the world and fighting to be heard.

As well, I am an empath teacher which means I often will take on their feelings and struggles. I learned this year I need to sometimes put boundaries on that because when I don’t my family is the one that suffers because there is nothing left for them. My empathy is what makes me a good teacher. My empathy is also my weakness.

IMG_3222 2But enough about that….I hinted at a different type of calling for the last year. This has been in the works for over a year. I was getting what I have deemed shoulder taps. Taps from the universe that I needed to add a new “tool” into my tool belt. The decision came with much urging from some important people to me most of whom knew my desires before I did. Many whom I told after I decided and said, “Well I saw that coming.” Even though the decision still shocks me to this day.

This tells me again that education is clearly my life’s calling. English is my path, rhetoric is my heart, education is my profession and serving others through that has become my passion. I have decided to add educational leadership to my repertoire. I started an accelerated program at Indiana Wesleyan University. I will graduate a year from now and hopefully pass the administrator’s licensure exam and add it to my teaching license.

I will answer the questions I assume most have because I have been getting them all along.

“What will you do with that?”

“But I thought you loved your school and teaching.” 

“Where are you going to go?”

The easy answer to most of them are again I am following where I believe God is leading me. I do love my school. I adore it in fact and know for a fact I would have never been lead this direction without my school. I don’t know what my professional future holds and yes I have goals. Right now I am a dual credit instructor/high school teacher in one of the best high schools in the state and one of the top (if not the top) early colleges in the state. I am not going anywhere.

All of my professional decisions have been made this way and none of them have been wrong or included any regrets and they have always landed me exactly where I was meant to be. I will never forget telling people I was going to be a high school teacher. They thought I was crazy. I heard a lot of, “Why would you do that?” Now I can say hands down, this was single handedly the best decision I have ever made and I made it on a whim and followed what I felt like my gut was saying to do.

This decision is exactly the same. I don’t know why I am doing it, but I do know exactly IMG_3891why I am. I am being lead that way. End of story. So my transition out of the classroom, if and when it happens, will work much the same. I will be lead there. So for now and my foreseeable future, I will still be possessing my “I am that crazy English teacher” persona that I have garnered and truthfully earned. I am right where I am meant to be.

I also want to note that all of my students in my classroom the past 6 years have given me the courage and confidence to even think or dream this could be a possibility. I know I am the teacher, but they all teach me so much and I love them all so very much even though I am terrible at saying it.

And there are definitely some other people that also deserve some massive recognition for my strength and confidence in this decision. The first is my own principal. It takes great leadership to inspire and lead another person to that path. I am not only grateful for the opportunity to work with him, but even more honored he is my mentor through this next journey.

IMG_9368My work bestie going on 7 years strong. She is literally my rock when it comes to all things professional. Yes, I am married to a teacher, but this girl is in the trenches with me daily in almost every imaginable way possible. We do almost every thing together. Her friendship and ability to cheer me on from the sidelines is unparalleled. Rarely do I let my personal fears and insecurities out in the professional setting, but she is always someone who I can be me with when I need it. So thank you…..Mrs. D.

My guy….I could cry just thinking of his unending love and support. When I mentioned this was a possibility I thought for sure he would think I was crazy. I had my “speech” all prepared for why it was a good idea. I didn’t need it. He immediately said, “When do you start?” That kind of love is rare and I know that. But that is also the kind of love that pushes you to be your best self and yes heIMG_1158 has always had that effect on me.

And my baby girls who I am continually trying to show they can be anything they want to be in the world and that there is no dream too big or no goal they cannot conquer. They were not surprised in the least either. All of my family of five expected this and I think knew before I did.

Every year I look for my lesson of the year. This one was different and was way more personal than in years passed. Usually it some teaching technique or something that furthers me as a professional. This year’s lesson was two fold. It will move me more forward professionally, but personally I learned to draw boundaries as a teacher and a human being. But I also learned I can do so much more than I ever have given myself credit for. The funny thing about that lesson is I keep reteaching myself that lesson over and over and over.

So yea…year end wrap. Lesson for this year always push yourself further than you think you can go. Dream the impossible. It can happen. – MR

Goodbye, Class of 2018.

Every year this post exists. I bid adieu to our current class…my previous crop of students. I teach primarily juniors. I have a sprinkle of seniors. But in their junior years, I spend a lot of time with them. A lot. This class came to me after losing one of their very loved teachers, spending a lot of time with another English teacher that they love dearly. I was essentially an interloper. It scared me and I felt defeated from the beginning. They scared me (Read my 2016-2017 year end wrap up). But I know one thing. My heart and the importance of being authentically myself in the classroom. That is what this class did for me. They gave me confidence to see beyond my own reach because I feel like they had to do that and I got to witness it.

The second and likely most impactful to me as a professional and personally was feeling my own calling and purpose shift and change. The world has been trying to tell me awhile, but I ignored it or just wasn’t picking up on it. I am not even sure I have entirely figured it out. But I am getting there slowly. It isn’t a story I am ready to tell or even have put all together. But I have found a voice I didn’t know I had. Now I just need to articulate it. My dream is bigger than I could ever imagine and it scares me.

I have been making huge strides to answer that calling. HUGE. It is only just beginning and that class and my juniors this year (look for my year in wrap up for 2017-2018 school year in the coming days) will be forever linked to this life change for me. They all have no clue; but one group showed me it is okay to do things that people think you can’t/shouldn’t do and the other encouraged me to see beyond my own strengths to get closer to my purpose and to my faith and see how they are inextricably intertwined for me.

Back to the class of 2018…They were underdogs not of their own making. They were the third “child”, our third class. The class where rules were getting firmly established and a little less guinea pig. They had some ownership, but had to work a bit harder for it. They had to go through the same growing pains as our first two classes, but it was different.

The emotional part and the part that made me proud was watching how they rose to the occasion despite the attention being paid to the others. They just plugged away, did their business and waited. I also got to be there and have a front seat in their junior year when people started taking notice and their stories were being made. I am not saying they didn’t start before then, but that is the cool thing about teaching juniors and seniors. They begin finding their voice, their own purpose and you get to see it. I won’t say I underestimated them because I don’t think as a teacher I could ever underestimate my students (again more on that in my year end wrap up). But some did. They underestimated themselves.

I think what I loved most about this class is the accomplishments and stories in those accomplishments. Most of the accomplishments have stories behind them that very few will actually hear.

Yesterday as they walked across the stage and I thought of those stories my heart literally felt like it could burst. I want to scream how hard they worked and tell their stories. But they aren’t my stories. I am just a tiny piece in a gigantic puzzle.

All I know is I will hear their names again. My love and honor to my students of the class of 2018. Love wins. It always does.

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