Technically, we’re only halfway through a traditional school year, but according to the Gregorian calendar, we’re fast approaching the end of a calendar year. It’s been another banner year in many respects, but I’m only going to reflect on a few personal and professional moments that have changed the direction of my life.
In my classroom, The Studio program is thriving and has more proponents than ever. We have seven of our students who have made the finalist round for Georgia’s Governor’s Honor Program, which entitles winners to spend a month on a college campus learning, networking, and developing friendships with other students who share their same passions and academic aspirations. This is our highest representative number yet, and I believe in my heart of hearts that a big reason all seven of our nominees are still in the running is due to skills they developed and honed in our PBL program. They are representing areas of technology, business management, and communicative arts (speaking & writing)! The numbers in our program continue to remain steady with an average of 46 students in each level. It will be interesting to see if those numbers grow next year as we’ll expand our program to include a few new teachers and all four levels again. In the meantime, we have seniors who are currently in internships or who were part of our very first cohort that have either received early acceptance to their in-state school of choice, or are waiting to hear back from the likes of Stanford and MIT. (I’ll include a special update in the spring with a list of our first year’s college acceptances!) We have a current group of sophomore’s who are continuing to build up a self-conceptualized competition among our local high schools called Trident. The competition is undergoing some tweaking, but is fully on course to become a very real product designed through our course. Our classroom’s BYOD efforts have also recently been highlighted by the county through their Communique news letter, which you can read for yourself by clicking here. (You can find the spotlight on the program on page 5.)
This past summer I began a personal and professional journey of earning my doctoral degree in English Education, which would be an impossible goal without the support of my wonderful wife who has been my biggest supporter and encourager. Although only two semester’s into the lengthy program, my teaching practices and my professional opportunities have already changed dramatically. Between having professors who push me to simply try real research and push me academically to reading and digesting fascinating theory and practices of others, I have grown tremendously in the last six months. I have new ways of approaching writing and literature in class, and I’ve discovered a passion for understanding and developing student agency in the English classroom. I’ve had the opportunity to conduct a pilot study and present at NCTE this year. So far, my experience has been incredible.
Personally, I’ve had the opportunity to grow in friendships and travel. My trip this past year to Switzerland with my wife to visit our good friends Anthony and Kim (whom my wife has known since elementary school) will be one of my fondest memories of traveling abroad. I will cherish my time there with them and the experience all together.
I’ll end this brief reflection by informing anyone reading that starting in January I’ll be sharing a few specific changes I’ve had in my practice as an English teacher (both in my PBL and traditional classrooms), but more excitingly I will be sharing several op-ed pieces I’ve asked a few of my current seniors to write about their experience in The Studio program. I’ve asked them to be candid about the experience and their point of view; I can’t wait to see what they write and share it with you all! I believe student voices are too valuable for you to only see my side of the story.
So until next year–Cheers!