The Story so Far: Learning to Live in the Gray

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As happens from time to time on this blog, I have been absent for a bit. This is in part because I took some time to be with family during a very sudden life change. (Rest assured all is well, but time time with my wife and daughter were restorative!) The absence is also in part to my new (and still pretty shiny) role as an instructional coach. While I had hopes that my Summer PD series would last longer than two posts, the reality is my opportunities to lead sessions with teachers were going to be limited this summer and for good reason. I have a good deal to learn. I am on a new team with new norms and new talents and skills that surround me. I am already in awe of the work my new colleagues do each day. They make it appear effortless. So, I have found myself learning to live in the gray this summer. Continue reading

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A Pleasant Surprise: 2018 NCTE High School Teacher of Excellence

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We all know that Mondays can be the toughest day of the week. When you start a new job, a Monday comes with new, previously unknown challenges. That said, yesterday was not a daunting day, but I did come home rather tired. I got a nice boost of energy when a surprise email popped into my mailbox at 4:09PM. Here’s a snapshot:

NCTE

I honestly, truly was not expecting to see this, but I am over the moon. I was selected as one of the fourteen educators to be recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) as a 2018 Teacher of Excellence. NCTE is an organization that I respect, love, and admire. I deeply appreciate the Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE) nominating me for the national recognition after winning their Teacher of the Year award this past February.

Forgive me for indulging in posting this on the blog, but as one might imagine, I’m pretty stinking excited. Thank you to the many, many, many friends, family, and colleagues who are very much a part of this recognition. This simply does not happen without you!

Summer PD Series: Collaborative Assessments and Better Rubric Making

My Post

My second round of leading professional development this summer centered on improving career and technical education (CTE) teachers’ approach to rubric creation for various projects and assignments in their classrooms. Today’s post maps out the lesson I used and much like the last post on building relationships with students, explains some of the ‘why’ behind my pedagogical moves.

This post will be of particular interest to anyone interested in accessing a plug-and-play rubric tool and gaining insight into improve a rubrics relevance and specificity to their classroom.

Continue reading

Summer PD Series: Understanding Students

My Post

My new role working at the district level across multiple schools gives me ample opportunity to create and lead summer professional development (PD) sessions. The Summer PD Series is exactly what it sounds like–I will share my PD sessions here. The hope is this will help me reflect on my sessions and their potential impact.

In today’s post I will take you through the first professional development session I led this summer in my new role which was simply called Understanding Students. Really, the purpose of the session is to inspire empathy and care in the classroom, driven from the teacher. It’s about how to authentically build relationships with students. Continue reading

Get Your Air Horn Ready: Debate Is Now in Session

Teaching (2)

by Dr. Kim Foster

“It. Was. Awesome.”

Let me paint a picture for you. It’s April. There are three weeks of school left for my senior students. To use one student’s exact words, he is beyond ready to “low-key get on up out of this building.” And I understand. I was a senior in high school once. I was a senior in college once. And I was 8 months pregnant defending my dissertation once. I get it. They want to be done, and I want that for them. They have earned it! However, we have three weeks left together, and I want these weeks to be meaningful. So, as I have for the past three years with seniors, we do a debate unit at the end of the year. “Arguing” with one another keeps them highly engaged. They want to win. They want to be right. Continue reading