I am a 13-year veteran public school teacher. I have taught every grade (except kindergarten - although I might!) but have found my passion in English Language Arts. I am now in my fifth-year as an 8th-grade ELA teacher.
Relationships over all else. When students, and all people for that matter, know you genuinely have an interest in them as individuals, they will move mountains for you. And, let's face it, getting 14-year-olds to write essays regularly is very nearly the equivalent of mountain-moving! I tell my 8th-grade students that they are in "Communications Class," because long after the nuts and bolts of plot structure, point of view, author's purpose, etc. have long since been discarded, hopefully the ability to effectively communicate remains. That is what is important. That is why I teach.
I routinely get pulled into conversations by former students on campus (we're a middle/high school,) at the grocery store, Wal-Mart, etc. They tell me they're still using the outline in high school or college. The fact that they still want to talk to me honors me greatly!
I played some college football at Fordham University in the Bronx. I finished up at the University of Florida. I tell people I went from F.U. to U.F. They generally laugh.
After my first year of teaching 8th-grade ELA (after six years of inclusive teaching) I vowed never to hear "I hate writing" again. It was so bad that I developed an eye-twitch, becoming a poorly-written TV parody of a stressed-out middle school teacher. If you're tired of hearing "I hate writing!" or "I can't write!" or "This is stupid!" then the POWW Method is for you.