Civic Apathy

Civic Apathy

This past Homecoming Day at my school, I set up a table like I had the previous year trying to get the upcoming high school graduates registered to vote. Whether their political views agree with mine or not, I feel strongly that everyone should have the ability to vote in elections if they so choose. The right to vote is so incredibly powerful that subgroups of American society fought for decades for that right to be extended to them.

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5 Ways To Find The Balance In Your Life

5 Ways To Find The Balance In Your Life

Teachers inevitably face certain challenges throughout each school year.  Every educator is unique, so what plagues one teacher in August may not affect another until the following April.  Sure enough, though, like Freddy Kreuger stalking you in your dreams, it is inescapable.  I'm talking about burnout, lack of sleep, and the demands of being a full-time everything.  

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Becoming an Innovative Heretic

Becoming an Innovative Heretic

    Ok, so I’m going to be completely honest, here. When I decided in the 7th grade to become a teacher when I grew up, I always had it in the forefront of my mind that I wanted to do things differently. In fact, my frustration with my worksheet-driven, unpersonable 7th grade math teacher cemented the idea that I was going to teach--and do it much better than her.
    I’ve noticed at the beginning of the school year these past couple of years that an increasing number of students tell me that they’re glad they have me as their English teacher. They’ve heard from their siblings and friends that I’m a good teacher, and I’m genuinely humbled when they tell me that they’re looking forward to my class. I just do what I feel good teachers should do, and let the chips fall where they may. Without question, I would assert that I’m not the best teacher in my department, much less the school building. But I try. Every day. Every class period.

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Teaching Others How to Think

Teaching Others How to Think

The summit was opened with a short round table discussion with Jamie Woodson, the CEO of SCORE, moderating an education discussion with Governor Haslam and Candice McQueen, the state’s Commission of Education. Naturally, the news cameras were rolling, and Governor Haslam made headlines when he said “What scares me the most about our country right now is we don’t have people who are really doing the hard work to think–and I think you learn how to think in school...One of the benefits of education is understanding that there are different points of view. Whether you're teaching calculus or 2nd grade, it doesn't matter; you're teaching people how to think.” His comments got me thinking about my own classroom as well as the educational landscape as a whole. One of the main reasons why I chose to teach English, instead of another subject is because it organically lends itself to students developing and defending their own interpretations of the text. Am I doing a doing a good job of allowing them to do this? Are teachers in general doing a good job of encouraging students to think and to look at things from different points of view?

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Reflecting Through The 12 Touchstones

Reflecting Through The 12 Touchstones

I recently had the opportunity to interact with McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin.  McREL, for those who do not know, stands for Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning.  If you teach in my school district, you are very familiar with McREL’s work.  When I started as an educator, my induction trainings focused heavily on the research of Robert Marzano, and particularly, the book Classroom Instruction That Works (CITW).  CITW served as an essential foundation in the development of my pedagogy, and I self-assess often to make sure I am not losing sight of my core competencies in the classroom.

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Substandard Standards Training

Substandard Standards Training

For those of you who think that teachers have two months off in the summer to relax and forget about school and then magically flip the switch when school begins, then think again. An extraordinary amount of thinking and planning goes into every lesson--especially for the first five days of school. These opening days are crucial. It’s where the foundation is laid for the remainder of the school year. Students find out answers to important questions like:

“How much homework will I get?”

“Will this class be easy or hard?”

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Lesson Learned

Lesson Learned

I have spent the past couple of weeks on a Holocaust in Europe trip with EF Tours. Though it wasn’t a school trip, four students from the school where I work and one grandparent went on this trip, along with 43 other parents and students from three other states. This trip covered many Holocaust-related sites in Germany, Poland, The Czech Republic, and Austria--including a visit to the remnants of the Warsaw Ghetto and to the concentration camps at Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Dachau. Below is a diary entry that I wrote about my experience.

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Exceptional Organizations Provide Feedback Following Interviews

Exceptional Organizations Provide Feedback Following Interviews

How many things are more nerve-wracking and challenging than interviewing for a job?  Teachers are not used to speaking about themselves; we feel much more comfortable singing the praises of our students.  I believe that makes it difficult for educators to perform well in their “time to shine”.  No matter how much preparation takes place, I always feel I could have done a better job.

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Start School Later - See Better Results

Start School Later - See Better Results

One of the biggest mistakes schools can make while trying to improve attendance and graduation rates is forcing students to fit into the mold of the school schedule.  While school may be a "first-shift" organization, many students will be second and third shift employees, and meeting students where their strengths are at is one way to eliminate threats to success.

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