I don’t feel like an English teacher

shoesphoto by aforgrave

(Or, “How I spent last Saturday”)

I came across this realization during a hazy, post #OTF21C car ride back to London. The nerd-endorphins were still buzzing through my already caffeinated blood stream, so I’ll grant that any epiphanies I may have had at that time may have just as easily been hallucinations.

What I mean is that when I first started teaching, I was passionate about English–literature in particular. The literacy side of things seemed a little tacky and boorish. I liked my students, but I think my approach to teaching was modeled on movie teachers like John Keating and that’s … not helpful.

And now I find that when I talk to other English teachers, and they get giddy and starry eyed when discussing the ways in which they instill a love of literature in students (whereas I don’t even know if that works grammatically), I don’t get it anymore. Now don’t get me wrong, I love teaching English, but I don’t think I love it for the same reasons they do.

Last Saturday I had the privilege of being Will Richardson’s Girl Friday (which is probably an inaccurate and un-feminist term. Deal.). Not that he really needed any help. Still it was a good excuse to hang out with and learn from somebody I really respect and admire. Every once in a while I’d catch myself thinking, “Two years ago this was all new to you and now you’re hopping on Will’s laptop to show the teachers Edmodo and Ning. You are so lucky!” It was bit surreal, but it reinforced for me how much has changed for me as a teacher. I blogged about this in the previous post so I won’t belabour  the point, but this is a pretty big deal for me and so I want to remember it.

Thank you to my OTF and ECOO friends for including me. This has been one of the most memorable and meaningful experiences for me as a teacher that I’ve ever had.

Here are some links to my friends’ (mere Twitter contacts no more!) reflections on this fantastic event:

Colin ‘s reflections

Doug’s reflections

Rodd Lucier’s brilliant and groundbreaking tome, featuring the indomitable Andy Forgrave (I sometimes use fancy words to justify all the money I spent on my English degree).

Andy Goes to the Apple Store

View more presentations from Rodd Lucier.
Jamie and Lexie Weir Skyped in by Andy

Jamie and Lexie Weir Skyped in by Andy

photo by aforgrave

Will Richardson

Will Richardson

photo by Colin Jagoe

Me rocking the microphone

Me rocking the microphone

photo by Colin Jagoe

Super Tweeps!

Super Tweeps!

photo by aforgrave

My screen shot of a pretty cool tweet:

9 thoughts on “I don’t feel like an English teacher

  1. I hear ya! I often don’t feel like the science teacher I used to be, and feel weird around other teacher folks who I know don’t get what it is we do. I think it’s a good thing sometimes to think that way.

  2. Hey! It was so great getting to know you better this weekend…thanks for joining us and sharing your intelligence, wit and humour (oh yeah and the gorgeous shoes as well! )

    I’m supposed to be writing a blog post so I better move on…just don’t forget that ECOO proposal thing, okay? http://ecoo.org

  3. Hey, Danika!

    There are a few choice phrases that jumped out at me as I read this.

    I find “nerd-endorphins” to be appropriately apt in describing the kind of energy that get-togethers like the #otf21c conference and Minds on Media tend to generate.

    Second, anytime someone is having epiphanies, I’m happy. Those are always good and worthwhile experiences! I had one at the last Will Richardson event in October 2009, and it has served to continue to help me frame things in the time since.

    Third, I like that you used Giddy and Starry-Eyed, although that may be more due to the fact that this is Valentine’s Day, and they seem to go hand in hand on a day like today. Still, they can work for learning, too.

    Fourth, while I hear your PCness concerns on the Girl Friday metaphor, I get it too. When we have a chance to work with folks with whom we share a common strategic vocabulary and reference frame, things just seem to click. It’s like we’re speaking the same language and don’t need to translate everything to get something done.

    And then you used the word indomitable. I looked that one up, and it sounds like you meant it a compliment, so clearly it was worth all the money you spent on it.

    So yeah! It was indeed a memorable and most excellent adventure! … until the next one!

  4. Hey Danika,
    I was still feeling euphoric on Sunday thinking about what a great experience the past few days were. It was great getting to know you through our shared angst pre-panel, and for the rest of the time in Toronto! Hopefully we will meet up again soon.

  5. There’s that old joke that elementary educators love their students, secondary educators love their subjects, and post-secondary educators love themselves > it sounds like you have discovered the true secret, because you love the learning. Thanks for another blog to add to my follow list.

  6. Interesting blog post, Danika.

    I don’t think that your thoughts are solitary. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that everyone feels the same way as a result of the event. At one point, the handle of English Teacher or Business Teacher or Science Teacher might have been the ultimate.

    In addition to breaking down the geographic walls, I think that the experiences that we all had at the OTF event breaks down the teacher categories. Perhaps the best thing is that we’ve all matured to the point of “teacher”.

    Yes, we’ll go back and do our thing but for three days in Toronto, there were no subject specific or grade specific references. We were teachers, shoulder to shoulder learning the types of tools that will help us succeed in our mission.

    This is an amazing group of educators that do get together periodically to push the cause via the Minds on Media event. You and Kelly were new, but you might as well have been with us from the beginning. Welcome to the group.

  7. Hey Danika,

    Thanks so much for your able assistance. I learned a lot from you as well, and it really just captures the whole co-learning meme that we all talk about so often. Always something new to understand. Cool when it happens face to face as well.

  8. Wow! Thank you so much for all your comments, everyone. I think I now know how my students feel when they get comments on their blogs. It means so much to me that you not only took the time to read, but also comment on my post. I learned something from all of you. Thanks for being part of my PLN. 🙂

  9. I don’t feel much like an English teacher either. Love teaching it,but the marking is truly horrific, and being a core subject, it’s stuffed to the beams in every section so that we have more room for at-risk programs. Heavy marking and maximum class sizes=sadness.

    I still love English, but I’m getting more mileage out of the degree from writing now, which is what I really loved about it in the first place. Getting excited about grammar was never really in me.

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