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Teacher Stories - Then and Now...


We asked teachers to share their history, their own stories of how their instruction has changed over a few years or over many.  Here are a number of Then and Now teacher essays written by veterans, by early career teachers, and by teachers at all levels of literacy instruction. 

On Literature & Language

  • Unraveling the Language Puzzle from Danielle Hartke. "Tree roots descended from my classroom ceiling, burgeoning with remnants of Greek and Latin."
  • 50 Years Ago from Jesse Perry.  "It has almost been 50 years since I started out on a career as a beginning teacher for students in grade 10 at Castlemont High School in Oakland, CA."
  • Introduction to Literature from Nina Scaringello.  "When I began teaching "Introduction to Literature," most of my students were not completing the readings."


    On 21st Century Literacies

  • Technology Can Not Replace the Teacher from Kim Bochicchio.  When I began teaching six years ago, I longed for the most modern technology available to students.
  • Book Reports from Carol Martyniuk.  "Book reports have come a long way since the mid-1970s when I began my career as a teacher."
  • 21st-Century Literacies in the Classroom from Debra Holmes Matthews.  "Yes, it is a long journey from the typing classroom to the Internet."
  • Change in My Teaching from Renita Schmidt.  Is there another way to help my kids become better writers besides teaching them grammar?
  • From Jonathan Edwards to Steve Jobs  from Armando Zuniga.  My delivery reflects 21st-century technology and thinking.


    On Writing 

  •  Centering My Writing Instruction: Then and Now from Steven J. Corbett. "I have been continuously honing my use of peer review and response."
  • Letting Students Set their Own Schedules from Carrie Costello.  "Years ago while teaching eighth-grade language arts, I would collect 80 multi-page papers on Friday.
  • Combining Creative Activities with Challenging Lessons from Desiree Evans. "I always possessed a duty to develop students’ critical thinking and self-awareness as learners."
  • Timed Essays from Stacy Goldberger.  "I thought that continual feedback on student writing meant grading whatever students wrote."
  • All Students Need to Write from Linda Kerschner. "I believe that writing is a skill that all students need to develop, and my assignments reflect those needs."
  • The Corrections (Sorry, Mr. Franzen, I couldn't resist) from Patricia O'Connor. "You cannot measure good writing by reducing it to numbers in a column and you never will."
  • The Discipline of Writing from Greg Palmerino.  "Pile on top of that the fact that I am trying to influence young minds in the discipline of writing and it's no wonder that some of the most sincere and talented individuals leave the profession within the first three years."
  • Composition Courses from Linda Panczner.  "I was the middle-aged cliche who returned to college to teach composition courses, sure that my life experience and earlier careers would make me an ideal instructor."
  • Students' Reasons for Being There from Scott Russell. "Students who used to be thrilled to learn to be writers now want to be done with the writing course."
  • My Teaching from Robert Wallace.  "My teaching has changed because I am also a writer."
  • Taking Time to Understand Your Students from Ureka Williams.  "I take the time to discuss their varied life experiences, and they know that I am interested."

    On Teaching 

  • Teaching Grammar from Andy Anderson. "For years I kept trying to teach what I was told to teach -- trying to master GrammarA, Grammar B."
  • We Have a Choice Here from Tabetha Bernstein-Davis. "I've learned that change can be abrupt and difficult, but also that with change comes potential."
  • Challenging Students from Tracy Fisher Bouslog.  "As a student teacher, I was fortunate to work with a cooperating teacher who said, "I want someone to love the kids as much as I do'."
  • Not Knowing Students from Sarah Bridges-Rhodes.  "I used to think that being a "good teacher" meant knowing students."
  • Teaching from Leila Christenbury.  "When I first began teaching, I was the smartest kid in the class."
  • Change Begins in the Classroom from Katie Dredger.  "Now, I verbalize and defend my choices. I use my reputation and experience as allies, working as an activist to affect policy, other practitioners, and ultimately, many more children than I ever could have imagined."
  • Assessment from Belinda L. Eggen.  "Today, because so much of formalized testing is not authentic and real-world focused, what I create must be."
  • Reading/Writing Workshop from Carey Fox.  "Why was I teaching the way I had been taught? From time to time I’d wonder if there was a better way—then I started searching for a better way."
  • Flexibility from Jenni French.  "I have learned much about flexibility since then."
  • Lifelong Learning from Danling Fu.  "Teaching to me at the beginning was to move information from books to students, but now it is a transformation process, through which my students and I both grow together into richer, more caring and more open minded learners."
  • Middleteacher, Middlestudent from Ron Gladden. "I expect authenticity, evolution, and edification."
  • The Joy Stays Consistent from Amy E. Harter. "That was it. I knew I was a teacher."
  • Meaningful and Purposeful Lessons from Hilary Hughes.  "I now explain the purpose of my teaching to my pre-service teachers."
  • Call to Teach from Kathleen Hudson.  "I had the call to teach at about four years old in a nursery school."
  • Relationships First from Jo-Ann Hussion.  "I have chosen to build relationships first, teach content later."
  • Student Mastery from Naomi McCall.  "Now, I'm more focused on student mastery than coverage of material.
  • Beginning of My Career from Lori McLain.  "The difference now is that I know it is good to question my teaching."
  • Facilitator from Mary Pat McQueeney.  "Facilitator - a buzzword popular with my professors but with little meaning for me - was how I characterized myself in my 1968 teaching statement."
  • Meaning Making from Adria Merrit.  "I have blossomed into a teacher who has a toolkit of activities to guide my students through the process of discovering meaning."
  • Helping Students Learn from Sarah Morris.  "I once thought being a teacher was being a superhero."
    Independent Learning from Mathew Needleman.   "As a teacher, I no longer feel like I need to control everything my second-grade students do." 
  • Chalkboards, Film Projectors, and Rotary Phones from Liz Randall. "I had a real chalkboard--and not much else."
  • I Relearn, Rethink, and Am Renewed from R. Joseph Rodríguez. "In my personal and professional practice, I remind myself of a Chinese proverb: 'Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.'”  
  • Make Exams Part of the Learning Process from Dale Salwak.  "I no longer teach to the exam but write the exam based on the teaching.
  • Vulnerability in the Classroom is Ok from Sarah Tanner-Anderson.  In my classroom, I utilize any means necessary to engage students with elements of language and literature.
  • Best Practices from Paul Thomas.  I have moved from, "How do I get student voices on paper?" to "How do I get teacher voices heard?"
  • Specific from Heather Traeger.  "I'm more specific with students about their work."
  • I Found My True Calling from Charlotte Wellen.  "I found my true calling helping to create the first Glasser Quality Public High School, based on William Glasser's Choice Theory."
  • Passion for Learning and Teaching from Sarah Brown Wessling.  "My passion for learning and teaching grows stronger with each passing day and experience."



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