Remembering the Student I Used to Be

By Abigail Crane, Secondary Section, Overland Park, KS:   One of the beautiful aspects of our profession as educators is that every year we get to press a “restart” button and try again. We can do everything from scratch, or cherry-pick the best lessons and units from...

How do you evaluate teachers who change lives?

By Lorraine Cella, Secondary Section, Tenafly, NJ:   It was 1966 and my 9th-grade year began in a suburban town in northern New Jersey. I strolled to school carrying my small assignment pad, which I needed for writing notes—the kind between friends in the hallway during change...

Make Pinocchio A Real Boy

By Cathy Leogrande, Teacher Education K-12 & Special Ed, Syracuse, NY:   When I was a high school Special Education teacher, I went to a difficult CSE meeting. The parent was not in agreement with the district plan for her son. As she got up to walk...

They Changed My Life

By Julia Peacock, 9-10th Grade English Teacher, Spring Arbor, MI:   When I decided to become a teacher, I believed it was about me changing the lives of students. What I've learned – what has been so unexpected – is that my students have changed my life!...

The Line Between Mr. Keating and Keeping It Real

By Dominic Pioter, Secondary Section, St. Louis, MO:   Looking into Jeremy’s 16-year-old face, I poured my 21-year-old soul into the role of a lifetime. In my oversized shirt and ink-stained tie, I was giving an Oscar-worthy performance of the eager young English teacher who defies all...

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,...