English Teachers of My Youth: Mr. Bolte

11th grade: Mr. Bolte.

Junior year began the actual IB classes, incredibly rigorous examinations of difficult literature. We had to think more critically than ever before. Some of my friends were full IB, all 4 core classes plus like 2 or 3 extra being IB level. I would have died. And because I was not full IB, I felt the pressure to display my intelligence to my peers. But I also still wanted to be a goofball.

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English Teachers of My Youth: Mrs. Carter

10th grade: Mrs. Carter.

I did not like Mrs. Carter. This is important, because she was the first English teacher I decided I didn’t really care for. It wasn’t because she wasn’t good. She cared about us tremendously, employed creative means to educate us, and was always positive. But it’s important for me to know why.
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English Teachers Of My Youth: Mrs. Humphrey

8th grade: I was a big dog on middle school campus. I felt both able and allowed to be mischievous. And throughout most of the year I had mixed feelings about Mrs. Humphrey, the short, stern-faced, saccharine, classically PTA-mom-like teacher of my final middle school year.
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Let’s Go Back to the Stone Age, Teachers!

[For this post, I take you back to my “stone age,” a time during grad school and community college teachings in which I began to grow frustrated with technology issues in the classroom. These were my thoughts.]

I hate technology today. I hate how it creates as many problems as it solves. I hate how maybe you’re right if you want to point out that this is not always the case, such as in modern medicine.
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On Saying Farewell to Students

When you teach, you reach a point at the end of the year where a blend of emotions trespass upon you and take you hostage. You are pleased to complete another year, excited at the prospects of next year’s plans, relieved that you survived various mishaps, afraid of what trials await you the following year, regretful of your mistakes, proud of the students you see moving on to their next adventures, mournful of the ones you will miss the most, tickled by the appreciation they have shown (well, some of them), but sometimes mostly empty—empty because that is your room at the end of the last day, your room for the entire summer. Continue reading

The Apple on ThisTeacher’s Desk

I have an apple on my desk. (not this one—this one just looks prettier)

An apple—that sweet symbol of education: Knowledge, as many have depicted it as Eve’s forbidden fruit; Nutrition, in mind and body; Red, the color of exes on wrong answers and of the weight of test grades; Folk patriotism, as Johnny Appleseed’s token gift; Autumn, when school activities begin; Frontier Heritage, the rustic nostalgia of the little schoolhouse in the country; Well-roundedness, like the Greeks, like the Renaissance; Social Support, as the apple was one of the gifts given to teachers by parents to feed them; hard cider, because alcohol is a common use of retreat from the stress of teaching.
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Blacksburgia webisode 29: Culturally Naive Writing Teacher

The Culturally Naive  Writing Teacher

Bridgette takes a writing course offered to the community, and her classmates are a diverse set of community immigrants and international students.  The teacher begins making good-intentioned but awkward comments about his classroom being like the UN and assumes he knows about other cultures, only for the students to give him blank stares like he’s an idiot.  He keeps apologizing for the English language being so complicated until an Indian student raises his hand and says “actually, English was very easy for me to learn,” and several students nod their heads.  The teacher, flustered, begins making the assignments harder to prove that English is so hard to learn.

English “Thing” of the Day—A simple classroom atmosphere tool

I started at the beginning of my teaching career, based on my belief that students need exposure to the world of language outside of instruction and assessment.  I got the idea from Billy Collins, who implemented a “poem-a-day” program in various public schools that involved a reading of a poem a day, without any required instructional connection whatsoever.  Mere exposure for the sake of it being something in our language.
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