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22 January 2015 @ 12:16 pm
tHE lAST eNGLISH tEACHER  
I am so fortunate. Over the course of the nearly 40 years that I have been a teacher, I have had the chance to meet some of the most incredible mentors. One of them is Terry Ley. Terry pioneered Directed Individualized Reading, an approach where kids read books and then conference with teachers about that reading. You can read about his work here: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/234666189_Getting_Kids_into_Books_The_Importance_of_Individualized_Reading. Thanks to Dick Abrahamson and a doctoral seminar, I met Terry's work. Later, through ALAN, I met Terry. We occasionally trade emails. Most recently, Terry wrote to me about TIME's 100 Best YA Books List concerned that he did not know some of the titles. I sent him to my blog to see my rant. And then Terry came back with a link to an incredible piece entitled THE LAST ENGLISH TEACHER. You can read it here: http://www.themillions.com/2015/01/the-last-english-teacher.html.

I love the final paragraph of the piece:

"Most literature we read will pass from their memory. Some works will stick. One poem might change them. It is a beautiful possibility that such an epiphany can occur in as mundane a place as a classroom. That same hope keeps me from burning out in a profession that is as exhausting as it is exhaustive. I hate how teachers are portrayed by politicians and education reformers; I hate how we are reduced to caricatures. But I keep that frustration from my students. After all, it is for them that I am here. I believe in them, and I believe in words; I better believe in both, because I might be somebody’s last English teacher."

Truth be told, though, I love so much in this essay. I love words as sacraments, as salves. I love that there are still teachers out there who work as hard as they do because they might just be that last English teacher. I know I feel that burden, too. It is nice to know that there are other like-minded teachers out there now. My PLN, my learning community, lifts that burden from me, allowing me to see I am not the only one. I do, however, still tend to teach like I might just be.
 
 
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