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When I began teaching, I penned into my gradebook the list of the 180 students in my six English classes. I created and interpreted my own assessments. While I was supposed to follow the prescribed curriculum that began with a grammar unit, I wanted to make my own decisions. So, I quietly closed the door of my classroom and ultimately enjoyed the adventure that was my first year. I felt power in my choice to exercise some academic freedom, but I felt powerless in my ability to affect curricular change. What’s the big difference, fifteen years later? Then, I practiced subversive teaching, doing what I felt best in my classroom for my students—despite the mandates. 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.
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg
14 years teaching