“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.” -Ray Bradbury
I felt compelled to write about reading and writing, to begin publishing my ideas in some form, but after years of professional reading, I sometimes wonder why I’m writing at all. It seems that the greatest ideas about teaching reading and writing have been expressed by timeless authors and thinkers, those who left indelible marks on my childhood, who continue to influence my teaching career. In the early hours of the morning, when I sit down with my writing notebook, the edges of my windows just beginning to glisten with the whispers of a new day, I simply reflect, eyeing the words on the pages through the steam of my coffee cup. After several writing notebooks and embarrassing trudges through past entries, I began to see ideas emerge, and what I took for simple reflection coalesced into ideas for teaching. That’s why I’m writing. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
I obtained a degree in Literature and Language from UNC-Asheville in 2007 and began teaching in 2008. My initial licensure was 9-12 English, but when I returned home from college, jobs were scarce. I became a substitute teacher, and because of connections I made at a middle school, I was offered a job teaching 8th grade. I was skeptical, but I took the job and fell in love with it. The school received a grant in 2011, and I was given the opportunity to go to graduate school. In 2013, I graduated from UNC-Charlotte with a Master’s in Instructional Technology, then furthered my career by beginning post-grad work in gifted education at Western Carolina University. Learning is a passion of mine, but I want to use it to serve others.
Later this month, I will start my 9th year of teaching, and with this new school year comes more newness than I am accustomed to. The first eight years of my career were dedicated to 8th grade English/Language Arts, but this year, I will be moving to 7th grade to teach ELA and social studies. New curriculum, new subject area, new grade level. I begrudged this move intensely, but I owe these changes some credit; they encouraged me to write fervently, and with time, I began to see the ideas come to life that will comprise the initial posts of this blog. I’m pleased that something good was able to burn through.
I’ve thought deeply about the teaching of English, including reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. I’ve thought about instructional practices, text sets, poetry, writing, mentor texts, and classroom libraries to name a few. My notebook has even become an exploration of religion and politics, and, with some refinement, I know I can turn them into quality instructional ideas. That’s what I hope to offer.
I am a teacher, a philosopher, a writer, and a dreamer. Like most teachers, I want to leave something behind, something I’ve touched and made better because I affected it. If any of the ideas in my blog posts make a difference in your classroom, please let me know. I love connecting with like-minded teachers, those who share a passion for education and the teaching of English.
Have a great year!