Monthly Archives: April 2017

#whyIteach

Students are writing the Morning Pages prompts from here on out in CO301D. Here’s a good one:

What is something from either this class, another class you’ve taken this semester, or something happening outside of school that you have learned this semester that you will consider adding to your teacher philosophy statement?

This year I’m on the five-year cycle for my post-tenure evaluation (which I have finally referred to as the PTSD eval), and I had to write a teaching philosophy for the first time in years (or maybe never?). Teaching is so in my bones that I hope it’s somewhat self-evident to my students, but this was a good exercise for me. I got an entire paragraph to do it in. Geez, it was harder than I thought. Here are the results:

My teaching is informed by both current and time-honored theory and research and is framed by a social justice perspective that stresses the use of literacies as instruments of creative expression, academic argument, and cultural critique. Teachers are understandably preoccupied with “what works” in the classroom, and I do my best to support my students in learning to plan lessons and develop engaging, authentic curriculum. At the same time, however, I also encourage them to unpack what it means to say that a certain literacy practice “works.” Why does it work? In what context? For whom? And what work does the practice itself do on students, teachers, and schools?  By posing these questions, I hope to help students articulate and interrogate their unspoken principles for teaching and to measure these against current theory and research, their own schooling experiences, and most of all, their students’ needs in their particular classroom contexts. In sum, I strive to equip my students with research-based, theoretically sound teaching methods geared to help their own students construct meaning and, to paraphrase Paolo Freire, to read and compose words in order to read and compose the world.

 

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#hopeful

Today marks the first day that CO301D students are providing Morning Pages prompts, and you can see from the one below that they’re already off to a good start:

“I was asked to share my story, my concerns, and my beliefs about education. No one outside my family had ever asked me about my outlook on education. I realized I had a voice – an authentic, small but strong voice with a valuable perspective on students’ needs. Somehow I understood how to paint a picture with words, a picture that pulls people into my world with students.” (Crabtree). Both the Ally and Advocate badges inspire different reactions within each of us, but we all have a unique voice to share these reactions. How can you act as a leader within your current community? Your future community/schooling system? Think of the ways you can use your voice to share your thoughts and inspire change within all aspects of life as well as the education system. What will you do?

Today, maybe the best part of my day will be sitting here in this room writing with these human beings who have become dear to me in the course of this semester. As we’ve been working on their digital badges and they’ve made a couple of presentations to push out their learning, I’ve been inspired by their courage and candor. They’ve made me feel hopeful about the future of our profession, and I’ve gotta admit that in light of external demands on the national level (and even the local level), it’s been hard to feel hopeful.

But you know what, they have embraced teaching as a vocation, not just a 9-5 job (which actually is way longer than that for English teachers.) The word “vocation” comes from the Latin verb “vocare,” which means “to call forth.” Most days, they’re feeling called forth into this difficult, beautiful profession because they had teachers who were as well.

I’m working on another book right now that’s focused on vulnerable learning and teaching. The chapter at hand is one on mindfulness, and yesterday, I wrote about setting your “stubborn intention,” the one that will serve as a lodestar to guide your work with teachers and colleagues, the one that you will come back to when it just doesn’t seem worth the labor anymore.

And it will feel that way. I can promise you that. But I still can’t give up the idea of my stubborn intention that I, as a literacy teacher can teach in ways that will make the world better and that will help my students do the same.

Part of that is not “empowering” them to share their voices, but helping them to recognize that they already have the agency to do so. They can use their literacy tools to critique inequitable structures so that the “moral arc of the universe will bend toward justice,” as Martin Luther King, Jr., said on multiple occasions.

I’ve seen very young school-aged students share their voices. My university students who are answering their calling can do so as well. I have no doubt that they can. I have no doubt that they have something that I, that all of us, need to hear. #feelinghopeful #inspiteofeverything #co301d