Monthly Archives: January 2019

Why am I teaching now?

Today’s Afternoon Pages entry addresses this very question in homage to Sonia Nieto, who edited the book Why We Teach Now. That book is an incredible testament to why teachers at all levels of experience have decided to enter and stay in the classroom for their entire professional life spans. Read it. Grab a box of tissues first.

I’m still here, too, though there were definitely a few times (and every year, a few days) when I wasn’t sure I would be. I’ve journaled off and on since high school, and a recently I found an old journal where I wrote about how just wasn’t sure how much longer I could do this job. It took me straight back. I was teaching Senior English at the time, and you know the score: if you don’t pass, you don’t walk in graduation. Every year, some students didn’t; no matter how much I cajoled, came in before school to provide extra support, met with them in one-on-one conferences, they just didn’t do the work. And even though, progress reports went out every six weeks, some parents were inevitably “surprised” at the end that their little darlings would not pass.

One year, the parents complained to everybody and god that I was unfairly treating their son, thus the dreaded conference with them, the principal, the counselor, the ass’t principal and me where we were laying everything out on the table and I was making my case.

Let’s just say I left in tears… (TO BE CONTINUED).

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afternoon pages: “What do you, too, believe?”

And we’re off! This marks the first Afternoon Pages entry for the Spring 19 section of CO301D where we read, write, and learning about the profession of teaching. We’ll start almost every class period this way, so if you’re reading this and you aren’t in our class, you’re going to get a firsthand view into what soon-to-be teachers are thinking. As a bonus, if you’re so inclined, you can follow along with our prompts for the semester here on our class website.

As I told the students on Tuesday, no one else in the profession can speak from their position at this moment in time, so as usual, I’m eager to hear what they have to say.

Today’s prompt is this:

In “The Careful Cultivation of Belief,” English teacher Sherri Medwin challenges readers to consider that the core beliefs that guide our work need “careful cultivation…, rich soil and ample space to extend to extend [their] young shoots,” and a “network of roots to sustain [them] through inclement weather.” What are your core beliefs in regard to teaching and education? How do you anticipate that these ideals will guide your work with students when you have your own classroom?

One of my core beliefs, actually is embedded in the seemingly straightforward lines preceding this prompt, and that is that preservice teachers DO have something to say about the current state and the future direction of education; in fact, they are uniquely positioned to do so. They’ve most recently been in the classroom, they think they want to go back in a different role as teachers themselves, and we should all be curious about why that is the case.

Learning from them every semester is my privilege, and this one is no exception. If we can “listen someone’s way into existence,” as Mary Rose O’Reilley says, I’m eager to have that chance once again.

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