Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Change and Excitement and Busyness

I'm back! May and June were such a crazy whirlwind of change and excitement and busyness! There have been so many things I've wanted to write about in the past two months, but when it came down to it, I typically ended up having to choose between blogging and sleeping, and it's clear which of those things won out for me. It's been a long time since I let things lag for so long on here, so I'll give you a little update on my life in the classroom.

Toward the end of April, I found out that I was accepted into the Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2015. I have never been so excited about anything related to my work! I literally jumped on my couch like a 12-year-old girl, and I am not even exaggerating. My roommate, bless her, got excited with me and for me and joined in this excessive celebration, which is why I love her. There's nothing better than a friend who celebrates successes, even if she's not 100% clear on why you're so excited. Anyway, I leave for ADE Institute tomorrow, and I am thrilled to be learning from and working with some of the most innovative educators in North America. I just know that this experience is going to rekindle a sense of excitement and newness in my work, and I am so ready for that! I can't wait to meet the rest of the Class of 2015 and get to work.

In the month of May, I completed a newer version of the Science Fiction iBook project that I've completed in past years. This year, in cooperation with some colleagues at the University of Central Arkansas and a fellow teacher at my school, I introduced my students to Pinterest as a research and character-building tool as part of an action research study. It made for a very busy month of May, but I am thrilled with the results! Students who used Pinterest to develop their short stories wrote almost twice as much as students who used a traditional character development sheet, and they included so many intense, vivid details about their characters and settings. It was so exciting to watch their writing, and their excitement about their writing, develop throughout the project. This project is a whole separate blog post in itself, so I promise I'll share more. Just know this: Pinterest is a powerful curation tool for students. I'm so glad this project provided the opportunity to teach kids that it's more than a place for recipes and crafts.

In June, I taught two sections of a Models of Teaching course at UCA, and I gained a whole new respect for every professor I ever had in a summer session. I know it was an intense experience for my students, many of whom were taking multiple five-week courses at once, but it was an intense experience for me, too. Adjusting to teaching the course in that shorter time span, rather than in a traditional semester, was definitely interesting, and, having done it once, I look forward to the opportunity to being better at teaching it in this abbreviated form the next time around.

The biggest and most bittersweet change I experienced in the past two months was moving out of "the middle." About halfway through this past school year, I started to feel like I needed a change of pace. I love middle school, particularly my middle school, so much. It's been such a warm and wonderful environment, and it was the perfect place to spend the first four years of my career. But when a position became available at our high school, I decided it was worth a shot. Next year, I'll be teaching 11th grade American Literature, Honors 12 British Literature, and some nine-week writing courses. While I'm very excited about this change, I'm also not ashamed to admit that I'm a little overwhelmed. There is so much to do and plan and figure out. I'll be working with a great team of teachers, but I need to wrap my brain around this new content and this new age group. So I've moved to a new "middle place" that's also old and familiar. It's the middle place where you have to "fake it 'til you make it," at least a little bit.

With all this newness, I'm sure I'll have plenty of blogging material moving forward, and I won't go another two months before I post anything again. I'm ready for a whole new set of challenges and a whole new sense of being "in the middle." It's going to be just great!

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