The 2014-2015 school year is/was (May 20th will be here soon!) my 14th year of teaching and as I reflect upon my growth as a teacher, it was probably the most formative year. Three factors were in place to create the opportunity for transformation. First, we were charged with implementing a new and much more rigorous curriculum but the anchor text, Ender's Game was challenged and so the curriculum became quite a saga. Second, I took a class through our district entitled "The Craft of Teaching Writing". Third, I grow easily tired with the norm and I like to play with new ideas. The three, my own personality plus the class and wacky curriculum roll out created a perfect storm to try a lot of new strategies and teaching moves. I find that I am invigorated by the year and am excited by what I have learned and the potention for future growth.
Focused academic talk within collaborative experiences and partnerships has been a pivotal. I've overcome my own hesitancies and insecurities as a classroom manager to grow students' abilities to talk with each other. They are great at talking about friends, crushes, food, etc. Much like adults. We have a lot of practice at that basic conversational language but little practice with academic. It has been fun to see them sit up straight and try. They feel so mature and accomplished. They are serious about their learning.
Participating in a class with excellent teachers raises the level of expectations that I have for myself. I continue to be motivated to be a better teacher of writing and thanks to the opportunity via The Slice of Life, I understand that I need to be a better writer and in order to do that I need to WRITE! I find myself checking out books on writing from the library, following new blogs, dreaming of my next writing project.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote an entire book about tipping points. This year has been my tipping point as a writer and a teacher of writing. I have a long ways to go but I am enjoying the journey.