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.

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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.

Not Having Something to Say.

IMG_0501Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. – John Kennedy, former President, USA

Blogging has been the last thing on my mind these days. Actually, that is not true. Blogging has been on my mind more than it ever has. But having something to actually say that feels worthy of the ‘publish’ button may be the problem.

I have read a lot of books. I have done a lot of graduate school work. I have been scheming and dreaming of what a principalship would look like for me. Afraid to dream to big, but also afraid to not dream big enough.

Principal E has a nice ring to it, does it not? Assistant. Curriculum. Athletic Director. Possibilities. Or I stay Mrs. E in my classroom and teach what I love with students whom I love. Ever wanna pinch yourself and ask how this is your life? You get to do what you love every day. I do.

But this summer it is essential that recuperate, renew and refresh. I needed to find me again. Somewhere I lost my footing a bit. My confidence was shook a bit. I have been trying to contemplate why that happened or how and I am not sure I can pinpoint it. ButIMG_5710 it did.

I easily slipped back into old habits and poor self talk. You are fat. You are ugly and why would anyone want you as a (insert whatever it is). I know better and I know it is phase. I am trying to be patient with myself. I also know graduate school does this to you as well. You feel like an imposter or like you don’t deserve the seat you occupy.

But I am grateful that the program I picked is faith based. I am not Wesleyan. However, I know this calling I am answering to is a gift from God. It is important to me that my path be lead this way and I am purposeful in my walk.

So how is that for a rambly, doesn’t make much sense post? The good news is maybe the bad is out, so I can begin to work on the good.

Kindly, – MR

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

Being human. 

Today was not the day I was expecting. I walked in expecting to teach a roomful of students who are ready, excited and willing to learn and for the most part they were. But today was one of those days when they were human and I was human. The kind of day that our state and federal legislatures need to witness and get a better grasp at what it is that myself and my fellow teachers face every day. 

The kind of day where kids make mistakes, or worse yet I make mistakes. The learning that took place was the kind that teaches compassion, forgiveness, survival and the kind of skills we all need to exist outside of class. The skills that make us human or in the least make the world seem a little less harsh. But we can’t prep for these lessons as they usually come out of nowhere and you can’t predict when they will start or where they will end. 

And yea it wasn’t perfect and likely won’t warrant an upswing on a state standardize test score. But what it will do is be a memory for them and for me of a day where we had to stop, take a deep breath and get through the next moment. We were human in very real moments that no textbook teaches. Moments that are hard to describe or explain in any sort of manner that gives them the justice of their enormity. 

When you set up a classroom with your inspirational posters, books, expo markers and your daily schedule with date on the board it all seems so easy. That stuff is easy. Even the testing and data is easy. It is the humanness that makes it hard. Some compare it to dancing or playing an instrument and those comparisons aren’t that far off. But they still don’t come close to describing what it is like to be with 20-40 humans in your classroom including yourself and the lack of predictability that exists in that humanness. 

The reality when dealing with humans is you have human moments. The kind where you just sometimes sit in silence and you just let them know that though we are in silence you are not alone. Also teaching them that silence isn’t bad and that sometimes to be human means not trying to understand the silence and just letting it exist. I am adult and I need that exact same reassurance. Sometimes the world seems unnecessarily hard and cruel and in order to survive we have to laugh, or cry or just sit in silence. These moments require very little from us other than just for us to be still and be present and be human. 

MR- On the importance of being human

I really don’t know everything.

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Can I tell you I learn every year the importance of being authentic with your students. True to yourself. Some may call it vulnerable. I know there are teachers who have taught for years in the don’t smile till December mode and that is great. I don’t judge them. Teaching like parenting for me is don’t judge it because we are all in the trenches trying to figure out what works for us.

But for me it is to be truly, authentically myself. That means if I feel silly that day and I sing and dance in front of the class I will. That also means I have grumpy days, my feelings get hurt and I don’t feel well and above all education for me is a gateway to who I am and truly long to be. It always has been and always will be.

In my speech class I model a lot. I don’t mean my latest clothing styles. I mean I publicly speak. I purposefully place myself into situations where I also become the student. This is my third year teaching dual credit speech and it was to be my third year modeling the same advocacy speech about TN. And yes much advocating needs to be done where TN is concerned…but my speech was tired and easy. Guess what…that isn’t modeling if you are comfortable. I changed it to a completely different topic and that was advocating for taking care of our Hoosier teenagers. I made it relevant by connecting it the Semi-colon Project.

However, I advocated that we wouldn’t have to talk about suicide, poverty and mental illness near as much if we [Adults] found better ways to listen and support our youth. I identified the issues as I see them in my home, my classroom and in relation to my own teen years.  For this speech building up your ethos is paramount and the must have part of the speech. Speak what you know so to speak.

And in my world I know it means a lot when my voice shakes, my eyes go to the floor, a lump in my throat appears. I have two sections this semester and I delivered it to one and I nearly had a panic attack. I started the speech and stopped and admitted in front of them I was so nervous. What a great learning moment that was for all of us. They begin reminding me of nerve lessening methods. I started and stopped a few times and each time was met with so much support. I took their criticism and admitted I would have given my own speech a D. Not an F because I got up there and did it and made it through. But a D. A you didn’t get it at all, but you tried grade.

But the way I felt when it was over was gross. I had the icky feeling of teaching things that are too personal. You know like why I can’t and won’t and refuse to ever teach Jane Eyre. This book is so personal and was such a life line to me in a time in my life when I needed a character like Jane Eyre. It is personal because it matters. It MATTERS BIG!!! I had no idea this would be my reaction, but then I realized it was a revelation of my childhood dreams of being a supportive and loving mother, a teacher, a leader in my community and my very reason for standing in front of a classroom full of teenagers. It truly doesn’t get more personal than that. At least not for me. I imagine the feeling I had is akin to one of those don’t smile till December teachers actually smiling in November and thinking, “Aww crap…I lost them. They know I can smile.”

The feeling though scared me out of repeating the speech for my second section. At least until a little more than two weeks later. I needed time and distance and I needed to admit I had a severe shortfall on this speech because I chose something too personal and something that mattered too much. I used it as a teaching moment and talked about why I couldn’t repeat it till that day. It was stigma, the lack of support, the fear of judgement and their own expectations of me. But I like students to see me like they see themselves and that is as a learner.

The second delivery still skirted on the overly raw emotion and a massive case of the stage frights. But they got to witness me manage my speech and I imagine they felt a little more ease at knowing they aren’t alone. And if they didn’t that is okay…What I truly hope they picked up from the speech is it is okay to be who you are even when it is scary.

Because yes I was scared, but guess what I did it and I survived. No tears shed and they know a little more about why I do what I do. And I would easily give myself an A- or B+. So yes my students see me smile. They see me mad. They see me care. They see me cry. In fact, I am quite known for crying when students deliver big on goals I set for them. In fact, I think we were the second week in and a junior whom I had only ever had those two weeks asked me, “Why do you cry so much?” I thought for a minute and quietly said, “Because it matters.”

So yes readers…it matters. The things we do in the world matter even if you aren’t doing it in front of a classroom full of teenagers. Your kids are watching. Your partners are watching. Your friends are watching and your enemies are watching. Show them it matters every single day by being you.

I am okay with not knowing everything and being the student. -MR

The land of no where.

dual_credit

This blog post probably won’t be particularly exciting. It is something that I continue to carve my niche into. I have been a dual credit college instructor for the last 5 years. And actually is probably more like 7 because when I was on campus I never had a class that didn’t have a high school student sitting in it. I also am sort of a unicorn because I also hold a license for  teaching grades 5-12 grade high school language arts. I am literally standing in the middle of  bridge. Sometimes I feel like the gatekeeper and other times I feel like the usher.

But most of the time I am from the land of no where. I am affiliated with and represent a university that I teach for. I also represent and teach for a public magnet high school and I remember dual credit existing when I was in high school, so I often have to ask myself why is it that dual credit programs seem to still be such an anomaly. To one side my program is likely the enemy because my courses take dollars from their campuses and I am just a high school teacher. To the other side I didn’t go through a formal education college program so I lack some sort of training in classroom management and human behavior.

So I am petitioning for a new role and that is the one of a dual credit instructor because honestly my role is different than both of those. The reality is there are kids sitting in high school classrooms that need and are ready for more, so why shouldn’t we give them more? Do they not deserve the challenge of a high school college classroom because they haven’t reached a traditional age of a college student set many years ago? My answer is they do deserve more.

Or what about the student who is traditionally targeted for dual credit high school programs? The ones who are first generation. The ones who never even could utter the word college because it just wasn’t something they thought possible. The one who is often in an under served population or lacking in resources in their community. Yes let’s talk about them for a minute. No books in their home. There is usually not talk of tomorrow let alone college. Dual credit programs breath life back into those communities and provide opportunity where there once was not. That is not a bad thing.

Yes you could say I am cheap labor I suppose because I am just an adjunct or I am not a real professor. Or you can say I am cheap labor because the government provides incentives for students to utilize dual credit programs in high school. But the reality is dual credit teachers and programs are providing a college education to students who need and want this and deserve it. Why does it matter where it happens?

What happens in my classroom looks exactly the same as it did when my office was housed on a campus and not a high school classroom. And the education experts that say I don’t understand classroom management or human behavior are welcome to sit in my classroom any day they want. My classroom runs pretty amazingly. My students are learning just as much as their adult counterparts did in my instruction. My expectations in my classroom are the exact same as they were when my email address has an .edu behind it. The one real issue that no one can truly understand is what faces a dual credit student. But I can try and I do and have been.

They have the same will and possible want of any student. But the reality is we are talking about a 16-18 year old taking a college class in high school. I have to walk the tight rope of capability. But guess what folks…that looks similar in a college classroom. Their needs are different yes. But it doesn’t come from watered down curriculum or a non-credentialed instructor. I hold a BA and MA in English. I am also 3/4ths of the way to an MA in Communication. So yea I have the credentials.

I will continue to make the argument the best people to understand where a dual credit student comes from  is a dual credit instructor. Especially  who understand who they are teaching. That’s me. But more than anything I will continue to be an advocate for my students and the people I teach with because ultimately we are the ones who are continuing to carve out this space where we are. The one where we aren’t just high school teachers, or college instructors trying to teach high school.

MR, Instructor to some Amazing High School College Students