Give Them A Smile

October 1, 2014

It is a fact that when the middle of July comes about, or even before, teachers begin making their way back into the classroom. There are some who dread this time of year, but there are others who are ready for the madness to begin.

For me, by the time August rolls around, I cannot be more ready to go back. This could be because I am a mother of three boys, and I live sixty-seven miles from a big town. My patience has usually run a little thin when it comes to my kids. I am ready to get back in a routine and see what kind of trouble my high school seniors have gotten themselves into over the summer.

However, what I think a lot of us forget is how ready the majority of our students are to see us again. As the first day of school begins, I often wonder to myself how many of the students walking past my classroom enjoyed their summer. What I mean is; how many of them have a family or a home life that is pleasant. The more I learn about the lives of my students, the more I realize how important my job is to the people around me. I never want my mood to affect the mood of my students. It is hard to know who had a hard night. I have made it a goal of mine to learn the names of all the students in the school whether they are on my roster or not. I go out into the hall between periods, and I try to shake hands or smile at everyone. If a smile or a handshake gives them just a little bit of reassurance that someone does truly care about them, then I feel my day was a success.

So remember, even if you are not ready for the year to begin, know that your smile alone could make all the difference to one of those faces walking the hall.

“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” Mother Teresa

Winding Down

April 15, 2013

The last grading period begins this week in my district. I look back at the last 29 weeks and am proud of the students' growth and experiences in my English classroom. The products they have created are not just essays that will gather dust in my filing cabinet. Instead, digital portfolios that are easily accessible now and in the future showcase their skills and abilities in a myriad of curriculum areas. We worked on these earlier in the school year, and since many of my students will graduate this year, they were excited to have this tool to use in applying for college admissions, scholarships, and job applications. (For more information on doing these in your classroom, check out the presentation I did at TCTELA.)

As I plan my summer, I will consider these types of successes on which I can build as well as the disappointments and complete disasters that occurred in my lessons. I've already registered for numerous workshops at our fantastic Region 15 ESC, but my days will also be spent devouring professional books and webinars. Collaborating with my Concho Valley colleagues ranks high on my priority list as well as summer usually serves as the only time we can do so. I look forward to seeing all of those same colleagues at the CVTE 4th Annual Summer Conference. Until then, good luck as the school year winds down.

One Down, Five to Go

October 8, 2012

The NCTE Affiliate Conference in July fed my soul and led to a serious goal-setting session for CVTE. Fortunately, our 3rd Annual Summer Conference occurred just two short weeks later, so we had the opportunity to launch some new procedures immediately. My favorite goal, and the one about which I am most passionate, took a bit longer to bring to fruition. However, the Peer Leadership Communities are finally set up, and since hindsight is 20/20, I actually think this might be the perfect time to send out the group rosters.

The first grading period always seems to rush by. I love the beginnings; they are my favorite part of my career choice, actually. I find I am most optimistic in the beginnings. I constantly plan lessons and grade work, taking advantage of all the new systems I wanted to implement or the new resources I found the previous summer. The second grading period, admittedly, I lose some of my momentum. I am tired at this point, and I think the perfect antidote is a PLC. I look forward to communicating with my group members with questions and concerns. I look forward to building a relationship centered around my favorite topic, how to teach English. I hope the PLCs prove beneficial for everyone. Please feel free to email me with feedback so we can make this process a success. Good luck with the second grading period!

Trade Book Wish List

August 27, 2011

I received my NCTE 2011-2012 Catalog today, and I started to just file it in the trash. I don't have time to read anything, and my bookshelves are full of unread materials. But alas, I flipped through it and found several I would like to have...

Engaging American Novels: Lessons from the Classroom
by Joseph o. Milner and Carol A. Pope, editors

360 Degrees of Text: Using Poetry to Teach Close Reading and Powerful Writing
by Eileen Murphy Buckley

Teaching YA Lit through Differentiated Instruction
by Susan L. Groenke and Lisa Scherff

Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents
by Deborah Appleman

Amy Tan in the Classroom: "The Art of Invisible Strength"
by Renee H. Shea and Deborah L. Wilchek

Tim O'Brien in the Classroom: "This Too is True: Stories Can Save Us"
by Barry Gilmore and Alexander Kaplan

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