Their Courage: My Why

By Stella Villalba, ELL Teacher & Coach, Lead Ambassador, New Albany, OH:    One of my ELL students stopped by my classroom in the middle of the day. He looked at me sadly and asked me in Spanish if he could just chill in my room for a...

Book Yente

By Cherylann Schmidt, 7th/8th, Ewing, NJ:   Each year at back-to-school night, I share my goals for my students with their parents. My hope is: 1. For each student to become a lifelong reader 2. For students to be able to communicate clearly in writing Then I talk about ways...

Authenticity Works

By Debra Schneider, District Literacy Lead and Librarian, Tracy, CA:   Students in the Senior Odyssey elective writing class were slowly building community, but a few students were still on the periphery, quiet, not participating in reading their informal journaling aloud to the class. I worried, always,...

Feeling Like a Writer

By Sarah Fitzgerald, Secondary English, Ruckersville, VA:   My focus for the school year was trying to improve student writing, not for state scores, but to help foster self-confidence and enjoyment in writing. I asked students to write for a few minutes on how they viewed themselves...

Coming Full Circle

By Kirsten Foti, 7-8th Grade Reading and Writing, Arlington, TX:   After eleven years of teaching, I had the unique opportunity of having a full-time tutor work in my classroom. I sent out an inquiry through Facebook and received a response from one of my first-year students....

I Always Had What I Needed

By Daniel Yowell, 12th Grade Teacher, Detroit, MI:   One teaching experience that has stuck with me through the years was the time that I received an especially meaningful piece of feedback on a year-end reflection written by an eighth-grade student who struggled in many ways, but...

It Takes an #NCTEvillage to Raise an Educator

By Pauline Schmidt, Teacher Education, West Chester, PA:   I've essentially lived two teacher lives. From 1995–2003, I was a 9th-grade English teacher in a small, rural school district in New York. Somewhere around 2000, I read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and immediately put it on...

Blessing From Another Student

By Jodie Scales, High School Language Arts, Muncie, IN:   I have a student who wrote an introductory letter to me at the beginning of the year explaining that his biggest fear is having to talk or present in front of anyone else, let alone in front...

Fragile X

By Amanda Brewer, Middle School Teacher, Denton, TX:   I teach in a suburban school with a mix of kids in it—racially diverse, high-income, low-income, etc. In my fifth year teaching eighth-grade reading, I was lucky to have small classes. One year, I had one class period...

What Being an Educator Taught Me

By Rachel McMinn, High School English, Meriden, CT:   I am a second career educator. I started off in banking after college, but quickly realized that it was not the career I wanted to pursue for a lifetime. It was a tough decision because I felt fairly...

A New Adventure

By Mindi Rench, 3rd Grade Teacher, Northbrook, IL:   This year I made a huge professional change. After twenty-two years in a middle school, I made the jump to third grade. I was feeling a bit stagnant, in need of shaking myself up. I knew I didn’t want...