Keep Your Heart Tender

By Valerie A. Person, high school English II and AP literature and composition, Currituck, NC:

I once sat in a PLC meeting where a couple of colleagues complained that teachers who did “fun things” made it difficult for those who did the “real teaching.” Although my name wasn’t used, I got the message, as I’m a “hall teacher.” My students are spread out in small groups wherever there is space; that means we often spill out into the hallway. We leave the classroom on learning walks and take the learning beyond the four walls. We take field trips. We create in makerspaces. We compose with Spheros. And more.

Do I regret it? Not one bit. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that there are moments where it would be easier to play it “safe.” Going beyond the four walls of the classroom brings new challenges including the acceptance and support of colleagues. But seeing the level of engagement of my students motivates me to continue my practice. We are not loud or disruptive, but my students DO English. I did not say anything when that comment was made in my PLC meeting; instead, I began brainstorming the details of the next learning walk my students would take.