Teaching is great, but learning has always been my true passion. What I love even more than my own personal growth is how I also get the opportunity to learn as a group with my peers. There are definitely benefits to teaching at smaller schools, but I’ve also embraced this opportunity to be part of a committed and passionate department. We spent the day together digging through our files, exemplars, terms and apps to find a way to help streamline the information to our students. More importantly though, I think that what we were really doing was trying to find a way to connect to our students in new ways and pushing what English Language Arts can be to them.
Of course, we spent time mapping out the basics and skills they will need to communicate, but what really excited us and pushed us were the conversations we had about how to encourage students to take more ownership in authentic projects and creations. As we dug through some amazing student work from this term, we wanted to make sure that next year we would provide a way to make sure they have the chance to showcase it all.
This really stemmed from a guest speaker we had earlier in the week. Dean Shareski reminded us that we spend a lot of time giving athletes and musicians a stage, but we should also provide opportunities for other students to take the spotlight in different ways too. Every time a student hands something in that’s incredible, I am eager to show others in my department, so why not everyone else too? We can’t just save those exhibitions for our annual open house. Student learning should be celebrated daily not yearly, and I am happy to be part of a department that wants to do just that.