GCTE Here We Come!: Sharing Innovative Approaches to Teaching ELA

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I realized the other day that I had not posted for nearly a month. While I intended to share my latest attempt at supporting my work-based learning students a few weeks ago, a scheduling conflict caused me to cancel my workshop with them, meaning I have been working with most students one-on-one through their resume-building process. I do intend to have a real update there, but in the meantime, I wanted to share some great news and hopefully drum up some interest of fellow ELA teachers in the state of Georgia.

Last night myself and several of my colleagues found out we were approved to present at this year’s GCTE (Georgia Council of Teachers of English) Conference in Athens, GA on February 9-10!

What makes this particularly special this year is rather than going solo as I have in many years past to present, I invited several of my ELA colleagues to join forces with me to put in multiple proposals that showcase the extraordinary work we do with students on our campus. A sincere goal of mine this year was to bring my school to the foreground of what innovative and best practices look like in the modern high school setting, and I was so thrilled to see my colleagues to accept my invitation. Because of their leap of faith, Lanier High School will have 7 ELA teachers represented in 4 great presentations during the weekend. I do sincerely hope fellow ELA teachers in the state can join us. The topics we’ll be exploring include:

  • “Exiting Through the Gift Shop: Enhancing Non-Fiction Instruction through Banksy, Documentary, and Memoir”
  • “Formative Assessment with Seesaw
  • “Innovating Shakespeare: A Collaborative, Technology-Rich Approach to Introducing the Bard”
  • “Transforming Teaching Through a Blended Classroom”

We hope to see you there!

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Care & Empathy Training: Preparing Student Mentors to Work with Reluctant Peers

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Today I had a tremendous opportunity to put some of my research from my doctoral study to use in a whole new setting. A few weeks ago my special education department chair came to me with concerns about her peer mentors struggling to connect with her most at-risk students. (For quick background, my school has an ‘academy’ dedicated to serving our 50 most at-risk students as identified by grades, behavior, attendance and other factors under the special education umbrella.) I immediately jumped at the chance to provide training for these mentors, believing my newfound expertise in care ethics could help enlighten these mentors approach to working with their more reluctant peers.  Continue reading

Reflecting on My Recent Professional Development Effort: The Power of Teacher Vertical and Cross-Curricular Collaboration

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All professional fields incorporate professional development (PD) into the structure of their occupations. There are always ideas to share and experiences to be had with the intent of growing employees or to simply improve one’s self. The unfortunate reality–at least in education–is a great deal of professional development can feel inadequate at best and a waste of time at worst. It is with this understanding of my own PD experiences that I went into planning a professional development of teachers in my cluster of schools with trepidation. To be transparent, I was nervous I would let my colleagues down and planning a PD experience that lacked the right substance and the right balance of experiential learning and collaboration with some dreaded sit-and-get as well. This was not my first rodeo–I had developed and delivered PD for others before, but rarely do I feel I hit the mark or pushed a narrative forward. Well, this time, this PD, felt different. I walked away after three days of rigorous work with my colleagues believing we had all experienced a PD worthy of our time, energy and effort. Continue reading

Dipping Our Toes into PBL: First Meeting with Ms. S and Ms. C

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Yesterday, I sat down with two science teachers in my school building, Ms. S (chemistry) and Ms. C (oceanography/biology), to start a conversation about developing project-based learning (PBL) in their classes.

Both are new PBL as an instructional method, but both are interested in developing their pedagogy to include PBL as a more authentic approach to their content. While Ms. S is planning more so for next year, Ms. C is working on a PBL for her oceanography students that would take place in March/April. Inside today’s post, I go through the pace of our conversation and the questions and concerns they both had moving forward into uncharted waters. Continue reading

Teacher Mentoring: What We Can Learn from Each Other

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Glenn and I giving the ol’ selfie side-eye.

Meet Glenn. Glenn is my wonderfully enthusiastic, bearded protege and mentee. While I certainly try to mentor as many teachers who are willing to listen to my wild ideas and peculiar practices, Glenn is official. This year marks the first year that my school is positioning veteran teachers (in this case teachers who have been at the school for over a year) alongside newcomers (teachers new to the school, not necessarily new to teaching). I worked closely with a colleague over the summer to build our buddy program. We developed the program to be a support for our newcomers, but also to be a boon for our school. Research, that I should be citing, I know, continues to show supporting the professional growth of teachers continuously and with intention helps with teacher retention and student success rates. Still, beyond both the support this program might provide for new teachers to our school and the quality of instruction in our building, this program gives each of these teachers a voice. Like Glenn. I fully expect Glenn to speak just as loudly into my practice and life as an educator as I hope to speak into his. To get to what I mean, let me first tell you a little bit about Glenn. Continue reading