I’ve had librarians say to me, “People in my school don’t agree with homosexuality, so it’s difficult to have your book on the shelves.” Here’s the thing: Being gay is not an issue, it is an identity. It is not something that you can agree or disagree with. It is a fact, and must be defended and represented as a fact.
To use another part of my identity as an example: if someone said to me, “I’m sorry, but we can’t carry that book because it’s so Jewish and some people in my school don’t agree with Jewish culture,” I would protest until I reached my last gasp. Prohibiting gay books is just as abhorrent…
Discrimination is not a legitimate point of view. Silencing books silences the readers who need them most. And silencing these readers can have dire, tragic consequences. Never forget who these readers are. They are just as curious and anxious about life as any other teenager.
”—David Levithan - Supporting Gay Teen Literature (via cake-light)
I wrote it for a class in college. We were supposed to create something that somehow defined “The Perfect Teacher.” I wrote this:
The Perfect Teacher
In Kindergarten, I learned how to share. That is really the only thing I remember.
In first grade, I was taught to be kind and not throw rocks…
Interesting, sad, and wonderful. It’s hard to define a perfect anything, let alone a perfect teacher. I worry when I hear that someone wants to be a teacher because they love the subject they’re going to teach SO MUCH. Being a teacher is about much more than lesson plans and grading. It’s an opportunity to help kids be the best versions of themselves. Sure, you have to know what you’re talking about, but kids aren’t going to remember everything you tell them about Shakespeare, but they WILL remember how they found a part of themselves in one of the characters, or how they learned a life lesson from a theme in that play. They’ll also remember you asking them if they are OK when they come in obviously upset. Or when you ask them to come see you after school and you ask how they’re doing in other classes and if they need help. That’s what being a teacher should be about, in my opinion. And that’s why it’s so exhausting, in the best way possible.
Fear not, introverts! Finally, someone who understands you and wants others to understand you as well. You are intellectual and awesome, not shy and anti-social. :)
I took this from my friend’s blog. She is awesome and reviews books and important things in the world of books and authors. She’s also a librarian and keeps me informed of the best new books my students would probably LOVE. Did I mention she’s awesome? Her blog is here:
Bookworms are often given the reputation as introverts. Well, we are to some extent, although the term “introvert” usually has the connotation of a loner, recluse, and weirdo. That’s not the case and I and many other avid readers are neither loners or recluses. Weirdo we judge on a case by case basis.
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk. This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy. Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude. Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people. On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
While I agree with most of these, some are entirely off-base. Here are two:
2.) For poster assignments, your students need glue, construction paper, and scissors… instead of using an online tool like Glogster.
3.) You still have chalk. Or a Dry Eraser.
Some are relevant. Some are a little ridiculous (a set of computers in EVERY classroom? PLEASE, show me where the district that can afford THAT exists). But if the message is that we need more interactive technology in the classroom (BETTER than Powerpoint), then I’m all about it. :)
What was the best or most memorable gift you ever received from a student?
For the first half of the 2010-2011 school year, I taught 8th grade English. When December came and I found out that the teacher I was filling in for was coming back, it was really tough to say goodbye. Since it was December, the students responded to the sad news with an amazing outpouring of gifts. TONS of stuff. I was overwhelmed and grateful, but there was one gift in particular that was beautifully thoughtful. It requires a bit of background though.
In the room, I set up a bulletin board with the headline “What’s Happening?” and then posters that were relevant to the unit we were trekking through. When my wonderful husband was helping me put up projects on the wall for Back to School Night, he accidentally bumped one of the n’s in “happening” so it was crooked. I didn’t notice until one of my students pointed it out a week or so later, and as a joke I said, “I’m going to leave it like that. I know it’ll bug some people, but those people need to learn to be OK with it. Life isn’t perfect, and sometimes, n’s are crooked. It’s a metaphor for life.” They laughed and I didn’t really think anything of it.
When I was giving hugs goodbye in December, one student, who was easily one of the brightest 13-year-olds I’d ever met, gave me a card with a photo on the front. It was a beautiful butterfly sitting in some grass. It was perfect. Except for one dry, yellow, blade of grass. She pointed it out and said, “See, it’s imperfect,” with a huge grin. I smiled and said thanks, but the significance of the imperfection totally went over my head. I was so overwhelmed with all the goodbyes that I didn’t even get it. Until a few days later, when we were on break and there was no way for me to get a hold of her and give her the thanks she deserved. Fortunately, I was able to attend the 8th grade promotion ceremony a couple weeks ago, and when I saw her, I properly thanked her. But that is easily the best gift I’ve received so far. :)
A couple days ago I posted my thoughts about a Wall Street Journal article that claimed contemporary young adult literature is too dark. This article does a great job explaining what the YA authors had to say in response to it.
Why current literature for teens rocks, and why the Wall Street Journal is completely out of touch
Confession: I joined Twitter a while ago because it was such a weird and awesome concept when it first started. I followed some friends and local people, but it was kind of boring after a while. While searching for new, interesting people to follow, I found a bunch of authors - specifically, young adult literature authors. Authors like Laurie Halse Anderson and Scott Westerfeld, both of whom I’d heard of before. I also came across Maureen Johnson, who is easily the most entertaining person I’ve ever followed on Twitter. EASILY. She’s funny, quirky, unpredictable, and has moved followers to raise THOUSANDS of dollars for Shelterbox, which provides shelters for people who have survived natural disasters (Japan earthquake and tsunami, Joplin tornadoes, etc.).
Basically, these three, and a few others who I’ve gotten to know via Twitter, really piqued my interest in YA literature and I couldn’t be more grateful. YA books today are amazing. There were very few books aimed at teens when I was a teenager, which is why I rarely read anything not assigned to me by my English teachers. It sounds crazy since I’m an English teacher and bookworm now, but I went through a looooong period of never reading for fun because there were no books that interested me (or so I thought, really there was just no one to show me books I might like).
Anyway. Yesterday, these and other authors and tons of YA readers lashed out on Twitter in response to this AWFUL book review by a writer at the Wall Street Journal. The article called “Darkness Too Visible” criticizes current YA books for being too gory, too dark, with no happy endings. The “writer” (I use that term loosely) says the descriptions of self-injury glorify the act and that the language in YA books is vulgar. Obviously this writer has no idea that many teens don’t get happy endings for their adolescent years. They have filthy mouths because they’re trying to gain their independence and define themselves. Many teens ARE abused, molested, neglected, contemplate suicide, self-injure, and have NO OUTLET. No one to listen. No one who understands. Maybe not even a friend who listens.
I'm one myself, so I don't feel completely qualified to answer, but what I learned this year seems simple, but is so important:adapt and reflect.
Adapt:Be ready to change lesson plans on the spot, or have options planned if a lesson plan flops. Some lesson plans will go WAY better than expected, and others will fall flat. If you're naturally quick on your feet, then you've got a head start. If not, assume it will flop and have a back-up plan ready.
Reflect:When the lessons DO flop - make a note of that in your planner so that next year you remember and can adapt again, or just scratch it all together. Also, spend time daily or weekly to reflect on what went well in regards to classroom management as well as curriculum, and what needs to be adjusted. As a beginning teacher, we can only focus on a certain amount of things at once, which means some things will go by the wayside until next year. For example, this year I just couldn't remember to have my students tuck in their chairs and clean up the crap around their desks daily. We never got into a routine, and my room was just kind of messy all year. I later subbed for a teacher whose room was IMMACULATE, and next year, that will be one of my goals. But this year, I was focusing on my lessons and student behavior management. We can only do so much, so we just have to reflect and make improvements year by year. It's easy to feel overwhelmed, so be sure to be realistic about what you can accomplish in the beginning.
Oh, and also, find an ally who is willing to listen to you vent when you need to. You'll need to. :)
So I finally finished “Mockingjay” and therefore the Hunger Games trilogy. Can I just say … eck. The ending was not satisfying, in my opinion, and it’s been a while since I’ve been let down in that way.
HOWEVER. What Suzanne Collins does amazingly well is show how revolutions are messy. Many people die, and the people who survive focus so much on the people who died that they question whether it was really worth it. Worthy causes are worth fighting for, but those fights don’t come without serious repercussions. The main characters are used, manipulated, and tortured by BOTH sides - not just the side they’re fighting against. Katniss Everdeen, our main character and narrator, is consistently manipulated and used by the rebels fighting their oppressive regime in order to create propaganda for their cause. She is seen as both the face of the revolution, and a threat to the upcoming politicians, which means her safety is a concern until she’s no longer useful. Then she’s on her own to survive in a society where half the population would kill her on the spot if she is spotted. Meanwhile, the oppressive regime she is fighting against is psychologically torturing her by physically torturing her love interest and fellow Hunger Games victor. She is so wounded (mentally, physically, and emotionally) at the end that the reader is left with a very weak narrator, and unfortunately, a weak story as a result. The last book in the trilogy is a mess, which really reflects the protagonist’s mentality. Maybe that’s what Collins was going for. An unsettling ending to an unsettling phenomenon (revolutions). Or maybe the ending is intended to represent the imperfect reality in which we live. It might be genius and I just don’t understand why.
Oh well, onto the next book! Though I’m not sure what it’s going to be.