I am currently in my 7th year of teaching 10-12 grade ELA at a small school in north eastern Ohio. As one of only two English teachers in my school, a lot falls on my shoulders, but I have a great team of teachers to work with, and a terrific community of students to teach. Over the years I have learned the value of focused goal setting for the rigorous curriculum that I have developed as well as for finding ways for my students to become owners of their own learning.
Teaching is messy. If you take a look into my classroom, you will see lots of student work on display: art projects, award winning essays, black-out poetry, posters of Huck and Jim on the Mississippi; there are worn-out novels, balls of wadded up paper, broken pencils, capless pens and dried-out highlighters strewn amongst the marked-up, photocopied passages which litter the countertops and tables at the back of my room. I can tell when some of my colleagues enter my room, they are taken aback by what might seem disorganized, but my English classroom is an artist’s studio where my students get their hands dirty while honing their talents and skills, and I am proud of the mess. I believe in providing my students with a goal oriented, student centered and diversified curriculum which is designed, from the beginning, with ALL students in mind. I do everything I can to engage every student in the room, and if this means that I am dancing on desktops and singing at the top of my lungs to keep their attention, I will do it. Developing relationships and communicating specifically with my students about their skill mastery is key to my students’ success, so I do everything I can to provide them with opportunities to communicate their questions and needs, a quality that you will see at work in many of my products, most of which are designed with clear goal setting and self-assessment elements embedded in the resources themselves. Some might see a mess, but my students grow; even the state’s test scores confirm this, and we have fun every day.
I have two measures of my success as a teacher. I frequently hear that my class is “really hard” and I watch all year as students stress out about the rigor, the entire time worrying that they resent me for the work load. I like knowing that my class is hard, but I like even more to know that my students enjoy it. Some years, I am honored with the Seniors’ “Favorite Teacher” accolade in the year book, and when that happens I know it was all worth it. If I can maintain “hardest class” and still be one of the “favorite” teachers, that is all the award I need.
B.A. English M.S. Curricum and Instruction - The University of Akron Akron, OH
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