Slice of Life Tuesdays

First I want to give a shout out: I’m so grateful for Dr. Scanlon, and her amazing research in the field of teaching that she was able to connect me to the Two Writing Teachers writing community – Thanks Dr. Scanlon!

Now that summer is here I have time to write, and want to share my writing and explorations on a writing community such as Slice of Life.  Summer is a great time for teachers to relax and reflect on the past school year, and while I’m relaxed with less stress on my plate I’m still pretty busy.  Now is the time for me to keep researching great teaching tools, lesson plans, books to share, ideas, as well as participate in professional development that is fun!  This summer I’m heading to the Clarice Smith National Teacher Institute hosted by the Smithsonian Museum of Art in Washington D.C!  I’m super excited about it, and know I will learn a great deal about using art in the English Language Arts classroom.  I think the major reason visual art is such a powerful teaching tool is because the majority of students are visual learners.  Using art allows all students to get involved especially ELLs who have a limited vocabulary, but can connect with material through viewing art and making art.

I want to blog about teaching more so than my personal life, but the daily Slice of Life in March was more of an experiment in initially writing everyday, and was a break from my constant thoughts about teaching during a swamped month of work and graduate work.  I’m thinking of adding pages to this blog about teaching specifically, or perhaps create a completely separate blog just about my teaching experiences, ideas, book shares, and lesson plans?  The reason for adding pages to this blog is because on Slice of Life I get some sort of exposure – whereas a new blog about just teaching I don’t know of a community to share it on that generates readers and comments like Slice of Life.

While researching I have found two websites that have a community of conversation and sharing teaching ideas: English Companion on Ning created by Jim Burke, and Learnist which is like a Pinterest, which can focus on teaching and education specifically.

Hope you all are having a great summer!

Slice of Life 22 of 31

Teaching Reflection

I love being a teacher. I’m not too keen on the alarm at 5:35am Mon-Fri, but once I get over that I remember I have a great job, and I get to share laughter with teenagers all day long. I enjoy what I do because it’s a service for our society, because of the joy I feel when I get to laugh throughout my day and talk about stuff I love and know. I love to share how much I can love a book with my students, and how I will cry at the end of certain books every.single.time. I know the kids appreciate me for everything I am and for everything I’m not.

I teach mainly because I wanted to make my parents proud, I wanted to work with words instead of numbers, as well as work in a field of good service to society, and finally because working with children is a lot of fun. The kids are always drawn to the bright side of things, if left to their own devices they will find play and proceed to enjoy playing. Kids are great to be around, and we get to laugh in my classroom every single day.

To be honest, not paying some kind of service to my society wouldn’t sit right with me – living my life without helping those less fortunate than me seems erroneous. Not that I’m incredibly wealthy or anything, but I had a great childhood and I was loved and cared for and still am – some kids I teach have nothing, and I feel I have to give them my love, laughter, and positivity. I’m grateful to do this job – I get a sense of peace from the profession, especially when I teach through my heart and not through my ego. During graduation I cry a whole bunch – seeing the ones who almost didn’t make it walk across that stage is incredibly moving.

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Slice of Life 2 of 31

Poetry Judging – A Reflection

Someone asked me today “How do you judge poetry when it is so subjective?”  Somewhere in my mind I could hear T.S. Eliot yell the word “Tradition!”  I replied that poetry has a Tradition and we judge according to the rules of that Tradition: figurative language, imagery, musicality, originality, and depth of subject are among the top categories to judge a poem by.

The questioner was right though – poetry is subjective – especially if you align your thinking about poetry with the Personism Manifesto of writing poetry.  Personism is like a pocket attached to the coat of the New York School, and one of my favorite poets from that school, Frank O’Hara, wrote the Personism Manifesto. I enjoy the Beats, and the New York School poets the most, but even though Personism hints at freedom from Tradition like the Beats do, O’Hara’s and Ginsberg’s work is laden with Tradition, so I find myself questioning Personism’s claim when I read the plethora of allusions in O’Hara’s work.

When I judge high school or middle school age poetry I want to score them all high – I want to toss out the rules of Tradition and look at them through the lens of a Beat or a Personist, but according to the guidelines of the contest I am judging for I have to be wearing my T.S. Eliot New Criticism hat, and that’s ok – it makes sense we want to showcase highly academic poetry.  Poems about mommas and hamsters are not winners.