Thursday, July 28, 2016

Invest in Yourself

     Summer. One of my favorite seasons, and not because I'm a teacher and have an unpaid leave from my job. I love summer because of all the opportunities it offers. One of the best I try to take advantage of is the North Dakota Council of Teachers of English conference held every July. I'm sitting in my hotel room typing this post, reflecting on all that has taken place and it makes me smile. Yeah, I've given up three days of my precious leave time, but I've gained so much more.
     First I've been able to network and get to know fellow educators outside the confines of my district. A shout out to the West Fargo teachers who always know how to have fun and seem to welcome GF teachers with gusto.
    Second, I've been able to connect with others and talk "shop." Nothing bores my husband more than when I get around other educators and we talk about school-related topics exclusively. Here I can have as many of those conversations as I like with no problem.
    Third, the conference is just plain fun. Security Ryberg made sure from the onset that the tone of this event was rooted in laughter. I appreciate that. English teachers are a fun bunch, really, we are!
    Finally, this conference never stops challenging me and teaching me new ideas or showing me new ways to approach the same material.
    This year, due to administrative support, GF brought more teachers than I can remember. That's a good thing. However, not enough English teachers take advantage of this event. And that's a bad thing.
    So if you're an English teacher, or any kind, actually, check out your state conference and attend. Invest in yourself. It can make all the difference.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Time, Not Down Time

     I don't know about you, but my summer has been incredibly busy. A good busy, if there is such a creature. Not only has it been filled with travel, bike trips, and weddings (10), I've enjoyed professional challenges as well. My summer began with a professional book study on Innovator's Mindset by George Couros. Here I was challenged by colleagues to continue to try new things in the classroom and strive to make it as student-centered as possible. One take away from this book is that administrators should be more vocal in their support of innovation and encourage everyone on staff to try to utilize an innovative approach to their teaching. This discussion-oriented book led to my other book study--Thrive by Meenoo Rami which was a good refresher on the importance of networking.
     In addition to this I attended a college-ready writing class sponsored by NWP and hosted by Red River Valley Writing Project. After spending three days of twisting my brain around their take on argumentative writing and having my arm twisted to present at an upcoming conference, I felt the need to process what I learned.
     However, there was little time to do so. The next week, which is today, begins our state NCTE (National Council of Teacher's of English) conference. Here is where I present. Here is where I learn practical ideas for immediate use in the classroom, usually with modifications on my part. Here is where I network with other like-minded beings passionate about their craft and kids. Here is where I connect.
     I'm looking forward to the next few days, seeing old friends and meeting new people. Hearing speaker Meenoo Rami challenge us teachers to take our craft to a higher level. And one of the best offshoots of the conference is hanging out with my colleagues and getting to know those I don't know as well.
     This has been a busy summer with little down time (did I mention we're building a house?), but it's been a learning summer.Much to the surprise of the public, this is a typical teacher's summer (maybe not the 10 weddings and building a house). Most invest in themselves and their craft. It may have been a busy summer. A connecting summer. A traveling summer. And a fun summer. But that has made all the difference