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R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me!

By not getting to know our students, we are disrespecting them.

This is the realization that hit me while reading Garnet Hillman’s blog, “My Journey of Change.” More specifically, after I read the following paragraph.

“I was challenged to get to know my students on all levels. To plan my lessons for them instead of the curriculum pacing guides and quarterly assessments. To RESPECT them. … Over the first few years of my teaching career I had unknowingly disrespected my students. I had disrespected their individuality, their interests, their backgrounds, and more importantly their ability to contribute to my classroom.”

When we do not give students opportunities to express themselves, to demonstrate their individuality, we are disrespecting our students.

When we take center stage and make the classroom all about ourselves and everything WE want students to learn, we are disrespecting our students.

When we stifle creativity and create an environment where making mistakes is a bad thing, we are disrespecting our students.

Too often I think we get distracted by grading, standards, curriculum, and whatever else that we forget what makes school a school – the students. Before I had never associated things like stifling creativity and not letting students choose what they want to learn more about with disrespect. I knew those were bad practices, but not disrespectful. That has changed for me.

Now being real honest, I am still probably going to choose some things that I really want my students to learn about and think that they should learn about, but now I am way more open to the idea of student choice and inquiry-based learning. Because above all I want to create an environment that is safe for my students. I want a safe place where my students’ individuality is celebrated, where they express themselves, and a place where true learning takes place. I want to KNOW my students.



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I Can’t Decide

I can’t decide what I want to learn more about. Actually, let me rephrase this, I can’t narrow down my list of everything I want to learn more about to just one thing. So, inspired by Maggie’s blog post, I am going to narrow down my selections to a top 7 list of things I want to learn more about.

Drumroll …



1 and 2 – Reading and Writing Workshops

How are they organized/structured? How can I defend using this method to administration, parents, and students? I want to learn about the art of mini-lessons.

3 – Literature Circlesbooks

Ever since Dr. Ellington suggested that these may be a way to satisfy my need for some measure of control in my classroom while also giving a considerable amount of freedom to my students, I have been fascinated with learning more about lit circles. P.S. Thank you Dr. Ellington for asking the library to order more books on this topic – excited to check them out!

4 – How to Motivate Students

We talk a lot about how our “teacher-selves” play a large part in whether or not our students are motivated in our classrooms. But what if my students just don’t like me? Are there other strategies and such that I can use to motivate students?



5 – Strategies for Speech and TheaterTheatre stage with red curtain

Our main focus has been on English classes, which makes sense because that is what each of us will be teaching someday. However, I am a Language Arts major, so I will potentially be teaching Speech and Theater classes as well. What would a workshop approach look like for these classes? Would that be possible? I need to focus some thought on how I want to approach these kinds of courses.


6 – What books, plays, poetry, etc. do I/should I expose my students to?

I want to read texts as a class, as well as incorporate student choice in my classroom. How do I decide what texts we should all read? This is a very daunting task to my mind right now. Also, I think it would be helpful to compile a list of resources/ways to share literature with students. Mostly because my classroom library won’t be super impressive when I first start out, I will definitely be adding to it as time goes on though!

7 – Classroom Management

This topic is intimidating, because I already know that this is an area in which I am going to fail a lot at first. What can I do to prepare myself before I get out in the field?

There are numerous other topics that I should learn more about, but these top 7 are what come into my mind as I write this blog post. Also, I feel like some of these topics are broad enough that I can devote a considerable amount of study time on them. Now the question is … where do I begin?




I Love My Highlighter!!


I love my highlighter. Why? Because it makes the important phrases stand out and say “HELLO!! You thought I was important enough to make me glow!!” Phrases such as: “As a new teacher it is so important that you discover who you are as a teacher, that you discover your own best practices and then start to question them. Question the ideas you are taught and see how they fit into your vision.”

This quote was taken from one of our readings for this unit – “How We Became That Room” by Pernille Ripp. This quote hit me on so many different levels that I had to whip out my weapon of reading choice and slash it across the words, making them an irresistible-to-the-eye neon yellow.

Many of the readings for this unit urged us to give up control of our classrooms. That freaks me out A LOT. What happens when things go wrong? Who is held accountable when disaster strikes? Oh right … that’s me.

worried face

But this excerpt from Ripp reassures me. I am a beginning teacher. I have so much room to grow. I do not have to begin my career as an English teacher with an “everything is out of my control willy-nilly” classroom. If after a few years of gaining teaching experience I begin to feel more comfortable letting loose the bonds of control – Great! But I need to discover my “teacher-self” first.

However, this quote also serves as a nudge to keep growing, to fill up all that learning room I have right now and then keep adding even more. Once I have some teaching experience under my belt it is time to reflect. I will need to question whether my practices are really benefitting my students. Maybe then it will be time to consider giving them more control.

I really like the image below because of the infinity symbol. It serves to remind me, and hopefully you as well, that learning is a never-ending process. We all have room to grow and that is what gives life variety and makes it exciting!! I may not get any taller, but I know that there are no limits to what my mind can learn.

room to grow

Happy Learning!!!

smiling flower


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“I Believe”


“I Believe”

I believe that I have a lot to learn.

A lot to learn about teaching in general

teaching English




I believe that I am gaining knowledge, valuable knowledge, in All of my classes.

I believe that I can pick and choose what techniques I want to try in my classroom.

I believe that I will improve with experience.

I believe that I will make mistakes and that I will grow from these mistakes.

I believe that I will discover what is successful.

Successful for Both

my Students

and Myself.

                                                                                       This I believe.

P.S. I wrote this a while ago in my writer’s notebook after reading “This I Believe,” by Penny Kittle. It was a powerful writing experience for me and I kept thinking about it, so I had to blog about it.


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