Blending Argument into Classroom Culture

In my most recent post, I made the case against finding balance in life, but instead working to bring the ingredients of life together through blending. At the same time as the writing of that post, I found myself in chapter four of Dave Stuart Jr’s These 6 Things: How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most.

As I was reading the book a little here, and writing that post a little there, a realization dawned on me: These 6 Things is a blessed picture of blending in the classroom. I think it was a mix of the timing of my post, all my prior experience with argument, but mostly that Dave Stuart Jr. just makes so much stinking sense (seriously, you should get the book), but I will now be using These 6 Things as a lens for how to make it all blend in my classroom. Continue reading “Blending Argument into Classroom Culture”

Blending Versus Balancing

“How can I get everything done that I want to get done? I just need to find balance.”

Have you ever thought that before? I do all the time. I used to stress out about it. I would look at all the things that I had to do, I look at all the time I had available, then try to block out time on a calendar to get it all done. It was a dance of scheduling all kinds of activities.

Certain activities got priority over others, especially the ones that involved work and family. As my kids have gotten older, they have been participating in more activities, and that has added a layer of complexity to each week. When I have tried to take it all in, thinking through my schedule, there were times when it was quite dizzying. Continue reading “Blending Versus Balancing”

I Teach Revision on Day 2

When I was setting up my classroom for the 2018-2019 school year, I tweeted a picture of the only decoration I had up at the moment (see the featured image above). Moments later, Melissa-Ann Pero (@bshsmspero) thanks me for posting it, and says she’s going to make herself one.

A bit later on, she tweeted her creation, giving credit to Kelly Gallagher (@KellyGToGo) for RADaR and mentioning me in the process. And in my small Twitter world, the tweet caught fire. At the time of this writing, the post has been liked 305 times and retweeted 118 times!

See here:

Continue reading “I Teach Revision on Day 2”

2 Small Things Completely Changed How I View My Students

I just had THE BEST first day of school of my entire career, and it had nothing to do with my circumstances. And I don’t just mean that the quality of my first day of school notched up slightly above other starts. I mean this was off the charts amazing! Like Takeru Kobayashi smashing the world record for eating 50 hot dogs in 10 minutes, when the previous record was 25, kind of amazing!

Okay, I’ll get on with it.

But before I jump in, I need to make something clear upfront: not much has changed about my circumstances from last year to this year. Last year, I was teaching . . .

  • 3 sections of English IV ERWC (with a per class student count of 36, 37, 36) and
  • 2 sections English II Honors (with a per class student count of 27, 27)

This year I am teaching . . .

  • 4 sections of English IV ERWC (with a per class student count of 36, 36, 36, 36) and
  • 1 section of English II Honors (with a per class student count of 36)

Never mind the high numbers in my classes, I want you to notice the similarities. Same courses, with just a few more students. The caliber of students under my care isn’t significantly different. So what made this start so much better? Continue reading “2 Small Things Completely Changed How I View My Students”

So You Want to Start a Teacher Blog?

It’s the start of another school year. And for those highly engaged teachers who are out there connecting on social media, building your PLNs, some of you are thinking that it’s time to start (maybe restart) a teacher blog. If that’s you, or someone you know, great! I’m all for it! (Feel free to send me a link to your blog post too).

You have a head full of thoughts and a heart full of teacher gold, and you’re ready to conquer the blogosphere! But before you do, I have a few things I want you to consider, because I have read some–to put it generously–less-than-stellar posts. Some were so bad, I decided that I would never return (….but then I felt bad about thinking that, because we all need to start somewhere, so I opted to take a long break instead). Continue reading “So You Want to Start a Teacher Blog?”

Get Your Students to Write OVER 20,000 Words This Year!

This year, I’m going to get my students to write over 20,000 words! And I’m not even counting the essays they are going to type.

At the start of the year, my students will begin building a Writer’s Notebook. This is a place the will house low-stakes, pressure-free writing, lessons on sentence craft, and a place where they will practice thinking through revision.

Here’s the English teacher math that came up with 20,000+ words:

  • 150 words per page
  • 5 pages of writing a week
  • 15 weeks of writing per semester

Continue reading “Get Your Students to Write OVER 20,000 Words This Year!”

This Tiny Change Had a Big Impact

When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, I never win. Well, except for the last New Year’s Resolution I ever made, which was “Resolved: I will NEVER make another New Year’s Resolution for the rest of my life.” So far, I have been holding to that one flawlessly!

But why am I talking about the New Year? For us teachers, it might as well be the new year. And it is the time when many of us take our reflections from the previous school year, the wins and loses, and decide what we want to tweak, add, throw out, or change (or, as I teach my students how to revise their writing: Replace, Add, Delete, and Reorder).

Last year I made one tiny change to my day-to-day, and was able to do it all year long. Every. Day. It pushed me and challenged me. It has shown me that I really can set goals for self-improvement and make real changes, really! The thing is, the goal I set is kind of stupid. I’m almost embarrassed enough to not talk about it at all. I thought it was so silly when I decided to do it, I did NOT share it with anyone. I kept it to myself. But it was such a success, I think I want to share it. Just promise not to judge me. Continue reading “This Tiny Change Had a Big Impact”