A fine site

Rough Drafts and Tighty-Whiteys

So even though I missed the popular “Sharing Sunday,” I still want to share my rough draft of a piece I am working on for my English Methods class. Hopefully, I will someday be sharing a few laughs with my future students over this story.



“Trying to be Cool”

As a high school student you want to fit in. You try to wear the right clothes, style your hair in just the right way, hang out with the right crowd, and conform to a whole other slew of fads. There are those for whom this essence of being cool comes quite naturally, and then there are the rest of us. The majority of us whose journey to the elusive quality of “coolness” is bound to filled with mishaps along the way.

Like my classmate Brandon. In many aspects he was Mr. Cool at my high school. Star football and basketball player. He was tall, tan, and had dreamy blue eyes to boot. You would think he would be the one to start the trends rather than follow them. But this is the story of how Brandon went from Mr. Cool to Mr. Fool in just one class period.

For me P.E. was the dread of my freshman year. I was a skinny little twerp with knobby knees and no hope of ever achieving even a semblance of athletic ability. I could barely dribble a basketball down the court. But for the rest of my class it was their time to shine. They were all in sports and the teacher (who was also their coach) loved them. P.E. was the place for them to show off and be cool.  And after class it was time to change into those big brand-name t-shirts, drench yourself in body spray, then head out to impress the rest of the student body during lunch.

Now, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to get back to Brandon. Well, never fear, he enters our story once again. The current trend of the year for all of the guys was to shimmy their jeans halfway down their rear ends in order to show off the various shades and designs of their boxers. If everyone didn’t know whether you were wearing plaid or superman themed underwear that day, then you were obviously out of the loop. So, like most guys, Brandon wanted to be a part of the craze.

So let’s set the scene here. Being a girl I can only imagine the sequence of events at this point, but this would be my best guess. In the dark underworld of the boys’ locker room, where the toxic fumes of Axe fill the air, Brandon changed into his Buckle jeans and Hurley t-shirt. He carefully scooted down those jeans, just enough to show off his undergarments, but not enough to become a hassle when he walked. A few quick shakes of his golden locks and he was ready to emerge.

And oh boy did he cause a few heads to turn…. Brandon sauntered into the lunchroom proudly displaying a crisp, clean pair of tighty-whiteys. I learned that day that Brandon was a Hanes man. Just like Michael Jordan on the TV commercials, proudly taking comfort to the next level. All eyes were on this young man as he loaded his tray with the day’s nutritious and oh so delicious school lunch.

Needless to say that day was often brought up in the coming weeks’ banter. The day that Brandon, star football and basketball player, fell from his high perch as Mr. Cool to the lowly position of Mr. Fool. The moral of this story is, there are many bumps along the path to coolness, but now you know that flaunting your tighty-whiteys is not the way to go.



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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“My 5 Words: Aspirations for the Classroom”

After reading Garnet Hillman’s blog “My 5 words,” I was faced with the challenge of narrowing down my future classroom into five words. I thought this would be easy; that my thoughts would immediately fill with the perfect adjectives to describe my dream classroom. This was not the case, but I have worked my way to these five conclusions.

Open – I want to create an environment of sharing within my classroom. Students will be able to freely share their writing, thoughts, and opinions without fear of being ridiculed. There will be open communication between myself and my students. I want to build positive relationships with my students. They will know that mistakes are a part of learning and that the classroom is a safe environment in which they can make these mistakes.

Progressive – Because my students will have a safe environment in which they can make mistakes, it is also important that they are learning from these mistakes. I want to create learning goals with my students. These goals will vary with each student, and perhaps we may even have some classroom goals that everyone is working toward. It is my hope that these goals will motivate my students; as well as create an extraordinary sense of accomplishment in my students when they reach their goals.creative words

Creative – I want my students to explore their interests in my classroom. I want to link these student interests to what we are studying. I want to see my students explore their interests through reading and writing. I want to be creative in my teaching and provide my students with opportunities to be creative when they demonstrate what we are learning. Lots of I wants!!

Responsible – There will be many expectations of my students. Whether those expectations are to turn in their homework on time, follow school rules, try their best, etc., I want my students to be responsible and work toward meeting these expectations. They will understand that we all play a role in creating a safe environment. It is my goal to have an organized classroom (not one that can’t be fun, but one that functions smoothly) and that I work to meet the high expectations of my students, their parents, and school administration.

Diverse – There are so many ways that this will describe my classroom. First, my students will be diverse. They will each have different experiences and attitudes they bring to the classroom. I welcome the wide range of contributions that my students will bring to my classes. Next, the way in which students learn will be diverse; therefore the methods I use to teach will have to be diverse as well. There will be student choice along with whole-class readings. There will be prompted writing and free-writing. There will be essays, creative writing, multimedia projects, reading aloud, and silent reading time.

So in a five word nutshell, this is my classroom.

Links: Garnet Hillman’s “My 5 words.”