professornana (professornana) wrote,

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I ran across a headline for blog post the other day that basically said good teachers change their minds. And then later in the week, I was answering questions for members of a colleagues' YA lit class, and I realized how much I have changed my mind over the years.

When I first began teaching exclusively ELA (my first 3 years were spent teaching ALL content areas in a small parochial school), I was presented with the usual, "here is how we do things here," routine. Basically, teaching involved rotating packets. We did two weeks in grammar packets (be sure to begin with nouns first), then two weeks on literature packets (there are worksheets for all the stories in our literature anthologies) and then two weeks on writing (I believe the first packet was on writing topic sentences, then paragraphs, etc.). That took us to the end of the six weeks' grading period. Repeat for the next six weeks and so on. The concept behind this was that I was somehow individualizing work for my students. In essence, I was a bookkeeper who filled out charts. My interactions with kids was not optimal. But I was the new kid and so I followed this "how we do things" for a time. And then, well, I rebelled.

But changing my mind is more than rebelling and doing things differently. Over the years, I changed how I "taught" grammar after I read Hillocks. I changed the materials I used for literature instruction from the anthology to contemporary works after I took a course from Dick Abrahamson. I changed how I graded writing after reading IN THE MIDDLE and especially after training in the National Writing Project one summer. I moved from whole class novel to what I would eventually know to call Literature Circles (thanks, Smokey). The more I taught, the more I read, the more PD I attended, the more there were changes made.

Today, I continue to make changes: changes in reading lists for my courses, changes in assignments, etc. I am always searching for that just right syllabus which is more elusive than that just right ANYTHING, I suspect. But that searching, that changing, it is what keeps me going after 37 years of teaching. It keeps me connected to other educators, new voices, new ideas, new technologies. Change is good. Just ask the woman who puts the crazy colors in my hair every few months. Noting like streaks of orange to shake off the predictable and think about the possible and even the improbable.
Tags: change
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