Saturday, February 7, 2015

All About Taking Risks

I love my job and I love my school.


I have a wonderful gift of freedom to allow my creative side shine. Yes, I have to adhere to a curriculum but I do not have to give the same exact assignment as my fellow teachers.

Does this mean that my students may not focus on the same thing as the other freshmen and sophomores in another teacher's English class?


Is that a bad thing?


With literature, there is so much you can teach that you have to pick and choose the larger picture part which allows for each teacher to teach what they enjoy about the readings from the curriculum and teach it how they want to teach it.

This allows me to use techniques and tools that I believe will reach out to my kids.

In the past, I have used memes, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pintrest with various degrees of success depending upon the lesson I was trying to have the students learn. Some lessons bombed and didn't do what I thought they would. Others were better than I could ever imagine.

Most recently, I have started having my students blog. With my sophomores, I had them mimic the style of the poems we were reading in class and then, in another unit, write about and reflect upon a particular theme that appears in the novel.

The poems worked fairly well but my sophomores seem to struggle with the reflection aspect. I know they are reading because they have lively discussions in class. The problem seems to be that they are afraid of writing especially when I don't tell them exactly what I want them to write.

This is a constant struggle I have with my sophomores. They are so afraid of being "wrong" that they are afraid of trying. Currently, the use of the blogs is only achieving the goal I want with only a few students.

However, I have faith that if I force them to keep with it, they will finally start to open up and reflect upon everything.

I know this because of my freshmen.

My freshmen were told to reflect upon The Odyssey as we read it in class. They started off timid; not really sure what to write. As time went on, the blog posts got better. They began to rant about Odysseus and the gods. They would try to tackle what they should have done and the motivations behind the characters actions. They well exceeded the 300 word limit and they were wonderful to read. I was (and am) so proud of them. Now, as we read Oedipus, they are much more open about debating in class. The class discussions have gotten better all because they learned to express their feelings through a blog that is not only personal but feels safe since there is no one making faces at them or giggling when they voice their opinion. They gain the confidence they needed to be able to find the excitement in English.

I can never be that teacher that does the same thing over and over and over and over again. I want to be the teacher that takes risks and is constantly trying to find new ways to reach out to their students. Not only do I want to be that teacher that takes risks, but I want other teachers to do the same.


Because if we all take risks, we'll be more willing to work together and only together can we change the things that we need to change about education.

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