A Spark

By Shyanne DeBaker, Secondary ELA, Orem, UT:   As a student teacher, I wanted to change the world. I thought teaching would be easy, because I knew it was my calling in this life. My first day of student teaching, nothing major happened—very typical introductions, learning the...

I Teach For The Students

By Kristen Luettchau, Secondary Lead Ambassador, Bridgewater, NJ:   The desires to learn and to teach have been passions of mine as long as I can remember. My mom tells me stories of times when I would play “school" even before I had attended school myself. My...

They Are Ready

By Audra Bolhuis, 9-10th Grade Teacher, Jenison, MI:   Kayonia was a quiet student when I had her in the ninth grade. She worked hard (for a ninth grader), was funny, and always loved to read even though she often struggled with reading, writing, and speech. In...

The Dog in BYOD

By Kate Baker, High School Teacher & 2018 CEL Convention Program Chair, Manahawkin, NJ:   Brody is eight and a half years old. With his graying muzzle, it is evident that he is starting to show his age. I'm reminded that my superhero dog is mortal. This...

A Safe Space to Do Hard Things

By Susan Barber, High School English, Sharpsburg, GA:   The culminating project in our rhetoric unit is a student speech. Many students have a fear of speaking publicly, but because we do so much sharing and discussing in the class, most are over their fear by the...

Getting Out of My Own Way!

By Charlene Mendoza, Secondary ELA & Social Justice Education, Tucson, AZ:   What do YouTube stars, Harvey Milk, and Wendy Davis all have in common? They were all nominated by students I had the privilege of working with during a project titled "Nobel Prize for Democracy In...

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...

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...

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...