Tag Archive | reading

Classroom Tour 2012-13

Over the last week, I have done a lot of work in my classroom.  Going into my sixth year, I have made a number of changes in there and what I am going to do.  I thought I would take an opportunity to share what my room looks like and explain what I am going to do.

Just ignore the overflowing garbage cans.  They have yet to be emptied. 😉

Student Areas

This year, I am putting students in groups of 4-5 as opposed to sides or rows.  There are so many lessons and activities where students need a partner or small group, so I decided that instead of making them move all the time, they would already be in groups.  One thing I want to figure out is a quick switch to rows when needed for tests.  My assistant principal liked this idea and agreed that if they start in groups from the beginning and it is all they know, it will probably help.

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Here are some other important student areas.  The organizer holds many important materials for students suck as pens, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes, and note cards.  It is actually storage for screws and nails and such that I picked up at Lowe’s thanks to an idea on Pinterest.  There is also dictionaries, thesauri, and MLA and APA books for students to use for reference as needed.  My books are on the second shelf.

The absent work crate is a system I have been using for awhile.  The current week folder has a folder for each day of the week and then I file the papers in other hanging folders as the week goes on.  This has been one of the best ways for me because students know where they need to go to get work when they were absent and it keeps me organized.  I have to put the papers in there at the end of each day, freeing up space for the next day’s handouts, and it make filing at the end of each trimester so much easier.

Finally, I use the 10 rainbow drawers for my in-box/out-box system.  It is consistent because students know where to go and it is easy for me to transfer work to grading folders from the drawer.  I am huge on color-coding all my classes.  

 

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 Each day, students need their folder and notebook.  For folders, I give each student a file folder and they store it in the classroom in the appropriate bin (see the color-coding again?).  Notebooks are kept in the drawer cart – a great find at IKEA – and rotated to the top each hour for students.  This helps ensure all necessary materials are actually in class for students.

 

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Teacher AreaImage

This is the year…the year I will stay organized and my teacher area will be clean.  I figure, you know, year six is a great time to figure it out.  Luckily, I found some inspiration to help me try to stay a bit more organized and less cluttered.

First of all, Pinterest gave me the idea for these folders on my desk to help keep paperwork off it.  I know it will be up to me to make sure those files are under control, but my hope is giving everything a place will help with most of that battle.

I also love the teacher organizer from Lake Shore Learning.  Paper is my downfall to organization so I hope this will help me know what is for each day and keep future handouts of out the way of what I need that day.

The small 12-drawer rainbow cart is for paper work such as class lists, grade sheets, conference notes as well as data for each class.  Again, if everything has a place I hope I can find it. 

Here’s hoping my desk looks like it does now all year! 🙂 

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On The Walls

The weekly schedule is on my whiteboard behind my desk.  I do update it for the entire week so students have an idea what is coming up.  I am in love with the star clings on the board.  They are dry-erase and great for announcements all students need.

We have limited bulletin board space in our hallway. 😦  I try to make the most of it though.  The left board is the “Success!” board.  First trimester, this will be used in my Academic Enrichment (ACT Prep) class.  My co-worker who designed the class started a tradition of putting student names on cars when they scored proficient on a reading passage.  I am going to do this in my section as well.  In the other trimesters, it will be used to showcase student work and any other success students want to share.  The board on the right is for grade updates.  I will be using the chalkboard in the middle as a reading board.  My co-teacher Jacqueline and I will each write what we are currently reading on there, changing it as we finish books.  We will also showcase books, reading countdowns, and many other things related to reading.

Finally, I love this reading sign on of my coworkers got for me for my birthday.  So fitting! 🙂 

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Classroom Library

One of the biggest projects in my classroom this year was organizing my classroom library.  Over the last two years, my library has exploded.  I wanted to make it more user friendly for students to help with organization and steering students to a great book.

First, I decided to sort the books my genre.  I used smiley stickers by color to help distinguish the books.  I have a master key on the white board and a smaller one over each section throughout the classroom.  I also switched to bins this year to help with the organization a bit.  I’m hoping that will make it easier for students to keep the library somewhat organized so it is easier to find books.

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Fiction Section – includes realistic fiction, historical fiction, sci-fi/dystopian/fantasy, and horror/suspense

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Window Area 1 – includes biography/autobiography/memoir, non-fiction/informational, poetry/verse, and graphic novels

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Window Area 2 – Series and Collections

I am also trying to help students read series in order so they know what goes together.  That is how this area is organized (though I am almost out of space!).  Each books has a small dot on the spine with a number.  I hope author names will help show which books go together.  

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Image Books on Display

Finally, I like to pull books out of the shelf and put them on display for students.  My current display is “Books Mrs. Crawford read over the summer.”  I have other ideas such as banned books (for banned book week), Halloween books, books I am thankful for (borrowed from Mrs. Andersen at YALove), student choices, top checked out books, if you liked the Hunger Games, etc.

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 I would love to hear about your classroom and some of the organization methods you use.  I also would love to see other classroom libraries.  Feel free to share ideas for book displays as well. 

Happy school year!

More Summer Reading

Well, I am not going to lie.  I am reading much less this summer than I thought I was going to.  Wedding planning has taken over my life.  With that said, I have read 10 books since school let out and 43 books in 2012, so I am proud of that overall!  I have read a few other books in the last few weeks that I want to share my thoughts on.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

My amazing co-teacher Jacqueline, one of my go-to book people, told me about this book.  Veronica Roth raved about it on her blog and Jacqueline was looking forward to reading it.  The price was reasonable on my Nook so I downloaded it.  I am torn on this book.  There are things I loved and things I was not too crazy about.  I love that this book is set in Russia.  I am so intrigued by Russia and love books from there.  I am really not sure why; I just do.  I was also very interested in Alina’s world and learning about the ways of the Grisha.  It was incredibly fascinating to dive into this brand new world.  I was also impressed with the writing in the book.  However, some things did bother me.  First of all, Alina’s excessive whining about herself – she is not pretty enough, she is not good enough, there is some mistake about her.  That was a bit much.  I know she is a teenage girl, but she honestly had nothing to positive to say about herself.  I also would have liked to know more about her and Mal’s past but I supposed there could be more revealed in later books.  There was also a lack of action for me…too much build up of the main conflict.  However, I overall enjoyed the story and am interested in reading the rest of the series. 

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo

I downloaded this book last summer for a beach read but fell into Divergent instead.  I wanted something fun and light-hearted to read so I went back to this.  Overall, I enjoyed the book.  First of all, anything in London will have me hooked.  I like the information I learned about Austen and references to her books.  I also appreciated the ending as it was not what I was expecting and not what is usually found in “chick-lit.”  I gave this 3/5 stars of Goodreads because ti was fun and I enjoyed it but there was really nothing that blew me away.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

This is another books that has been sitting on my TBR pile for over a year and was also recommended by Jacqueline.  I was hooked throughout most of the book.  I had never heard of Vel d’Hiv before, so this was educational in that respect.  I also think it could be a good title for some readers for my historical fiction project.  I really liked the book when it alternated between Sarah’s story as a young girl – heartbreaking as it was – and Julia’s life in 2002.  It was fascinating learning stuff about the even as Julia did and I wondered if it is viewed with as much passiveness in Paris as the book suggests.  I was starting to lose interest in the end and wasn’t sure how it would end up.  It was very different than I expected but overall I am glad I read it to learn more about WWII history.

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

It is hard to be reading YA and teaching high school without hearing about Dessen.  With that said, I only ever read one of her other books Just Listen.  I have three of her books in addition to What Happened to Goodbye in my classroom and they do get checked out on a somewhat regular basis by my female students.  Something was really pulling me to this book over the others.  I absolutely loved it!  I love the character of Mclean.  She seems so real and likely to be in my classroom.  Her struggle to find out who she really is definitely speaks to high school students – or even me when I was a college graduate!  The other characters in the story were likable as well.  Of course Dave was fun but I also had a strong connection to Deb; must be the type-A personality.  Many of the characters were rather complex which made them very fun to read and get to know.  I can see this one being popular next year in my classroom.

I have a number of books sitting on the TBR pile still for the summer.  Currently, I am reading The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.  I also cannot wait to sink my teeth into Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, the sequel to A Discovery of Witches.  I hope to be sharing my thoughts about these and other titles soon!

#Summerthrowdown Week 1

This summer I am taking part in a fun competition known as #summerthrowdown between teachers and librarians to see who can read the most books. Over the last week, I have read 6 books that count toward my numbers, plus one I was over half way done with come Monday. Here are some of my thoughts on what I have read so far.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I was actually rereading this book in preparation for the movie coming out this fall. I remember just loving it the first time I read it in my early college years. While I still enjoyed the story, I was not as crazy about it as I remember. It may be an age thing. I think I connected more with the characters when I was 18 and setting out into the world and figuring out who I was. I still love the story and Charlie, Sam, and Patrick as characters but not as much as I remembered. I am still excited to see the movie this fall, especially since Emma Watson is starring in it!

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Thank goodness for Twitter and Goodreads or else I would miss out on so many amazing elementary and middle grade novels that I would not have heard of otherwise. This book made me laugh and I found it to be incredibly entertaining. I love the Star Wars draw in and the many different voices of the students brought into the narrative. I think that some reluctant readers in my classroom would still enjoy this. I can’t wait to get my hands on Darth Paper Strikes Back.

A Dog’s Life: The Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M Martin

I had no idea Martin wrote other books besides BSC books, which I grew up on. I found this book as well as Everything for a Dog at the Scholastic Book Fair. I was looking for a light read one night and got through this in one sitting. I don’t mind books from an animal’s POV and found Squirrel to be a lovable dog. Some parts were sad and made me angry to see how people will treat animals, though I know it is true. Overall, it was a sweet story I read in one sitting.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

I have been following Johnson on Twitter for some time before reading any of her books. I find her to be an absolute riot! I loved this book! I love that the setting is London. It made me want to travel back to London the entire time I was reading it. I love the pull in of Jack the Ripper, one of the most terrifying murderers of all time. I love the supernatural aspect in this. And the cliffhanger ending makes me wait in anticipation for the next book in this series. I cannot wait to read more of Johnson’s work.

Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville

I came across this book thanks to my coteacher. She added her vase YA collection to our classroom library this year. She recommended Armageddon Summer and I was intrigued so I packed it up with my other summer reading books. I found this to be very intriguing. First of all, there is something to be said about the whole cult following and mind set of people in that. The alternating point of views between Marina and Jed showed two different approaches to Revered Beelson and his followers. And despite the extreme conditions of being in this camp awaiting the end of the world, they go through typical questions and discoveries many people of all ages do. I liked the suspense I felt as I wondered what would happen on July 27.

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

This one was recommended by my good teaching friend Sarah over at YALove when I was planning my first Donors Choose Project. It was very hard for me to read this school year because so many students checked it out. I knew it was coming home with me this summer. I found Knowles’ writing to be honest and heartfelt. Again, I love alternating points-of-view and the idea of four in this one was amazing. There is a string message of how teen pregnancy affects many people around the mother and father. I found Ellie’s struggles to be very strong. I really felt for Corrine as the friend trying to be there for Ellie while also coming to terms with everything herself. This will be another one I will promote hard next school year.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

On the recommendation of a Twitter friend and fellow #nerdybookclub member, I listened to this on audio. This is one of the best books I have ever listened to and it is making it hard to listen to something else. Rex’s writing is hilarious and I love J-Lo and Gratuity both. There are also some strong messages that really make you think about our actions in the past. I have the paper copy of this in my room as well and will talk it up. The idea that this will be a Dreamworks movie starring Jim Parsons in 2014 makes it that much better.

Didn’t read as much this weekend as it was my birthday and I was visiting Shawn. Going to enjoy this beautiful day in the patio with my next #summerthrowdown book and I will share some more titles and thoughts next week!

Happy Reading!

Year in Review

Well, time just totally got away from me at the end of the year.  Preparing for Prom took over my life at the end of April and beginning of May and then we were in the home stretch of the end of the school year.  Now I am on the other side and phew!  I am so glad to say I have made it.  I want to reflect on some amazing things that went on this year and my hopes for the next school year.

The 2011-2012 School Year

We went through A LOT of curriculum changes this year.  I don’t think we had any idea exactly how many changes we were making until we were right in the thick of it.  That made first trimester really hard.  First, the research project was rough.  I always knew research should be in all grades but I was kind of hiding in tenth grade saying there was no time for it.  Well CCSS did not allow for that anymore!  The projects and presentations I got that first trimester were a little…less than par.  However, I learned a lot about teaching research and helping students not feel so overwhelmed with it.  I also focused a little more on presentation skills.  The projects second trimester were a little bit better.  I am also pumped to go with a new twist on the project for next year that I will explain later.

The other big change was choice books and literature circles in the classroom.  I was pumped to do this but I had no real idea exactly how hard it was going to be.  You know, they make it seem so easy in those books and in my grad classes.  However, again, first trimester was a learning expereince.  I learned the students do not have to meet in groups every day and reading together every day is not the most productive outcome.  Second trimester went a little smoother, more so in the B section than the A section.  Then I really felt I had much more of a handle on it third trimester in the B section.  I really focused on mini-lessons to build up the discussions groups were having.  This showed better notes from the students and deeper conversations.  I was really excited about the deep conversations groups were having over two paragraphs we read for a mini-lesson on follow up questions.  Two paragraphs!  There is still some improvements I can make but I am still proud of the way things turned out by the end of the year.

Writing has also seen changes in my classroom.  We are not just doing persuasive essays!  Yay!  I loved reading my studnets’ work in the narrative unit and with doing more of the other genres of writing, voice started to show up more in persuasive essays and other formal writing pieces.  And students can write a lot more in a short amount of time.  The writing fluency is getting there and students are being more focused.  I literally saw a number of students mature in their writing between the A class and B class and was able to tell them so.

Reading is also something I am very proud of.  First of all, my classroom library has exploded!  My first Donors Choose project was fufilled last summer which brought in almost 50 YA books for my students.  We were also blessed through grant money $1,000 each to build up our personal libraries.  I filled it in with many titles from a number of genres.  I am continuing to see more and more students reading.  Students who told me they hated to read were reading their first books since elementary school.  One girl who also fought about reading chose to read on her own when she was done with a test.  I saw more students showing habits of life-long readers by carrying books with them everywhere they went.  Some students have friended me on Goodreads and actually use it.  I am thrilled to be building a community of readers.

I also had some pretty amazing opportunities this year.  Jeff Anderson came to our district for a special PD session with our teachers.  I attended MRA in March and learned amazing things as well as hung out with some of the most amazing teachers from around the state and country.  I also finished my Master’s program and am now a K-12 Literacy Specialist.  All in all, a lot to be proud of.

Looking Toward 2012-2013

I am really excited for next year.  I get to teach 10th grade classes again so I can really step up what I started this year.  The research project will give students more choice in that they will choose a historical fiction novel to read and research that time period to analyze how well the novel portrays the period.  I have started a new Donors Choose Project for this project:

http://www.donorschoose.org/project/giving-students-choice-in-reading-rese/810081/

I am also looking forward to seeing how the choice books evolve this next year.  As students have more expereience, and I do as well, it can only get better.  More changes will continue to come but I really believe they are for the good of our students. 

This summer, I plan on a lot of professional reading as well as YA reading.  I will share titles and insights here.  I hope everyone has a great summer!

World Book Night 2012

Today I took part in World Book Night 2012.  I came across it by complete accident a few months ago on Twitter.  Sherman Alexie was promoting it as one of his books was one of the 30 books to choose from to give out.  The premise of WBN is that passionate readers, Book Givers, give out books to light or non-readers to help promote a love of reading and to pass on the passion.  Today is Shakespeare’s birthday, the inspiration for this night.  I signed up, was chosen, and gave out copies of The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous giving the book out to students when I first started.  I mean, what would they say?  The would probably think I am crazy.  But then again, I am the crazy reading teacher so, I would be totally ok with that.  I gave a lot of books to former students.  They were students I remembered not to be crazy about reading and usually groaning about SSR.  I also gave most of my books to male students.  I did not mean to discriminate but I think this book can do a lot to reach male students.  I also gave the book to students in my class and of course, today was a dedicated SSR day.

Some students did not seem to know what to do.  The first two students I gave a book to, two juniors I had last year at sophomores, seemed confused even when I explained it to them.  I fear they may have just stuffed them in their lockers.  One student flat out refused to take a book from me.  That hurt a little bit but I pushed on.  Unfortunately, one book was found abandoned in the hallway.  I was very sad about that.  However, I quickly found a new owner for that book.

Most students were pleased though.  A former student working on his senior project came to borrow books from the author he is focusing on.  I gave him a copy of the book and he genuinely thanked me for it.  He said he would give it a try.  Some students that I caught in the hall thanked me and told me it was nice.  They promised to read it for SSR.  (One teacher sent a student back to get more information about where the book had come from.)  One student, part of a due I refer to as ‘Double Trouble,’ wanted to make sure he was getting a book since his sidekick received one.  (These two spent the majority of SSR last year reading Captain Underpants.  I explained this would probably appeal to them.)  Another student started reading it right away during SSR in our class and said he wanted to read it every day since I had given it to him.  I conferred with him today and he said he was liking the book and wanted to give it a try.  (The number one compliment on the book was that it had pictures.)  I hope to see the books around more in the possession of my students.

I am glad I got to take part in this event and hope to do so again next year.  It sends a strong message to people and I am all for anything that promotes reading.  I am a proud book giver and will continue to strive to get books in the hands of light and non-readers for years to come.  I hope many of us are inspired to pass on the love of reading through strong books throughout the years.

For more information on World Book Night America, visit: http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/

#Bookaday in Review

Spring break has now come to an end.  This year, I challenged myself to participate in #BookaDay.  The plan was to read a book per day over break.  I was well prepared with a bag full of books that I brought home from school.  Things went pretty well, despite a small snag in the plans.  Here are the books I read over break.

1. The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

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This book was actually recommended to me by a student.  He described it to me as a cross between Harry Potter and Hunger Games.  He let me borrow his copy.  I had started to read it before break started and finished it up on Saturday.  Overall, I can say I enjoyed the book.  I was not crazy about it, but I felt fairly entertained throughout.  I can definitely see the appeal for younger audiences.  

2. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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This book…this book…wrecked me.  However, it wrecked me in a good way.  I was commenting not to long ago how it has been awhile since I really cried in a book.  I have had emotional attachments to books and have been a little teary eyed, but lately nothing has really brought the sobs out.  All that changed when I read A Monster Calls. This story is just beautiful.  There is no way to fully put into the words how this book made me feel.  Everyone should read this book. 

3. Paper Towns by John Green

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I will start this by saying I have loved John Green’s work before.  The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska are two of my favorite books I have ever read.  I was really pulled into Paper Towns at the beginning but as the story went on, I found my attention and interest falling a bit.  I just wanted Q to find Margo and figure it all out.  I felt a bit lost with the ending.  I feel as though I have missed something here.  I enjoyed the book but I was not as crazy over it as I have been with Green’s other work.

4. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

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I must borrow the words of Colby Sharp to describe this masterpiece: “This book fills my heart.”  I loved Applegate’s work in Home of the Brave when I read in my Diversity in Lit class.  She is an amazing writer, even when using only a few words.  The story of Ivan is heartfelt and moving.  I hope students will give this book a try to just enjoy this beautiful piece of literature.

Now at this point in my break, something very uncommon happened.  I traveled out of town.  The first bag a packed was a bag of books.  I planned on doing a lot of reading.  Well, I arrived at my destination to find I left said bag at home in my kitchen.  So, that changed things.  Thank goodness for the Nook app on my I-Phone I was able to still do some reading, though not what I had anticipated.

5. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

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This book has been sitting on my Nook since last summer.  It was recommended by a friend but I just never got to it.  I am quite sorry I waited so long to get back to it.  This is a touching story about the friendship and bond between Henry, who is Chinese, and Keiko, who is Japanese, during World War II.  I am very interested in stories that center around the Japanese Internment Camps of the 1940s.  (For a great novel on this for younger readers, check out Thin Wood Walls by David Patneaude.)  I know a great complaint about this book are the anachronisms associated with the part of the story taking place in the 1980s, but if you can look beyond that, it is a lovely story.

During said road trip, I did have the foresight to check out audio books from the library before I left.  I finished on of them on the trip.

6. Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

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I have been wanting to read this book for awhile.  It was suggested by Sarah Anderson to me when I planned my first Donors Choose project.  I was blown away by this story.  It was absolutely nothing like I anticipated.  It was a little confusing at first with the audio to have the statements from witnesses after the fact but I soon caught on.  I loved that Young was far from perfect, yet believable.  I also loved the characters of Ronna and Coop.  I wanted the CD to read faster at times so I can see how everything came to the end that was teased from the beginning and how other characters were involved from what was learned in the flash forwards.  I can see why so many of my students go to this book.   

7. Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

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Put this book on the top of your to-read list and get your hands on it as soon as possible.  Easily this book now holds a place on my favorite books ever list.  Lucky is just an amazing character you can’t help but cheer for.  Parts had me laughing out loud while other parts, especially page 205, just ripped my heart out.  And I truly believe that everybody does see the ants.  At least, I know I do.  Perfect book to wrap up #bookaday with!

 

Why I Teach

As the state of education is quite depressing in Michigan and there seems to be more negative ideas about teaching than ever before, I think it is important to remind ourselves why we teach and what we are doing it for.  As we enter the last leg of the school year when we return from spring break, here are my reasons why I do what I do.

I first thought about teaching in tenth grade.  There were two main English teachers for tenth grade.  One was the “easy one” and one was “the hard one.”  Mrs. Hard One of course had a rough reputation among students and everyone hoped to be in Mrs. Easy One’s class.  I had Mrs. Easy One for the first semester and well, I greatly disliked her class.  I did not like what she chose to read (curriculum seemed to be rather free flowing when I was in school) and she was not a fan of my writing style (I am very protective over that).  I was further infuriated with her class when I wrote an essay on the novel A Separate Peace after reading only four chapters and watching about 10 minutes of the movie and I received an A.  Yes, this bothered me.  I was not challenged.  I learned how to play the game in her class but I was not proud of the work I had done.  (Till this day I still have not read A Separate Peace tough one for my good friends swears I should.  One day I will.)

The next semester I was in Mrs. Hard One’s class.  And guess what…I loved it!  She challenged us in ways I had not really been challenged before.  I appreciated the assessments she had for Julius Caesar and I knew she could pick out a load of BS in writing from 10 paces.  I did my work and I think I can safely say I read everything in the class.  It was one of the first times I liked poetry.  It was at this time it started to hit me why so many of my classmates did not like English: There were less teachers like Mrs. Hard One and more like Mrs. Easy One that seemed to ruin English for students.  I thought I might want to be a teacher so that I could make English a little better for students.

Teaching became my focus after a year and a half with another English teacher in my school.  The beauty of Mrs. Spear’s craft was that she was no taller than 5 feet, yet she struck a respectable fear in students’ hearts.  She knew not every student would leave her class in love with English, but she made sure we had a respect for it.  In Advanced Composition and AP English, she stretched me to my limits because she knew that is where I could go.  She knew she could call me out when I did not give it my all (Odeipus paper I am looking at you) but she could also appreciate and point out where I grew and matured as a student.  I knew I wanted to be a teacher so I could be like her.

In college, I discovered the type of student I wanted to be a teacher for.  I met Sammy the summer before I left for college.  He was a year younger than I was and part of the “Bad Boy” group I hung out with.  I knew Sammy had dropped out of school before graduation but not much else about his academic career.  We were talking one night through AIM (dating myself, I know) and I told him I would probably get going soon to read and go to bed.  He asked what I was reading and I told him 1984 by George Orwell, assuming he would have no idea what I was talking about.  Sammy replied, “I really like that book.”  I admitted to him that I was surprised he had read it and we we got into quite the literary discussion about the book.  Near the end of our conversation, Sammy told me the reason why he had dropped out of school: teachers always told him he wouldn’t amount to anything so he figured why should he bother.  That comment still stays with me today and I refuse to let a student believe he or she cannot do anything or that he or she will just fail.  I want to be a teacher for the Sammy’s of the world.

Each year I teach, I come across more reasons as to why I teach.  A few years ago, our building was put on the “Persistently Failing Schools” list.  I called my mom and cried because I refused to believe that was true.  It hurt to be told that.  I had been hearing all kinds of comments about my school and students since I got hired, many assumptions I will not publish here from people who have never set foot in my school.  Those assumptions and definitions are not what I see in my classroom each day. When everyone started wondering if people would leave during these times and where there were other jobs, that never crossed my mind.  If I did not stay and teach and fight for my students, who would?  I am happy to say we are “off” the list though still monitored.  I hope we continue to strive to achieve and accomplish more for and with our students.

My passion for reading is another reason I teach.  I love sharing books with students.  While not every single student becomes a huge book nerd like me after leaving my classroom, I know I have reached a number of students over the last few years.  Students have told me they read more than every before after being in my class.  One senior told me he was reading the first book he had read since fifth grade.  Just this past week, a number of students checked out books to bring home over break, asking if they can have more than one. (Why yes, of course, I always reply.)  I am blown away by the number of books I have checked out this year.  I am even more excited when a student asks me to check out a book a classmate or friend was talking about.  I teach to foster life long readers.

I am inspired and surprised by my students each day.  Some days are much harder than others, but when I remember why I started this and why I am here, I know there is nothing else in the world I would rather do.  I choose to focus on the positive and I am so happy when I get to talk with and meet other teachers who feel the same.