When I was a little kid, I loved to read. And then I went to school.
When I was in middle and high school, unless it was required for class, I rarely picked up a book. I was just staying afloat with my teacher’s reading list. I didn’t particularly care for To Kill a Mockingbird or Ender’s Game, but damn it, I had to read them. I needed to read 30 minutes each day! I had a project due on these books at the end of the month! If I didn’t do well on this book project, I might never get to university! I’d die on the streets, penniless, an unrecognized poet, wearing a ratty beret, smelling heavily of cheap merlot…
Penny Kittle, a world-renowned teacher and literacy expert, once put into words what I think most English teachers are thinking, but not saying:
“Do the math. I just don’t have the time.”
It happens to every teacher.
Horror of horrors, you have finished your lesson and the practice and the students are getting antsy. The promise of cafeteria Jamaican patties and French fries make your students jittery.
With 10 minutes left in class, what is to be done?
On the rare occasion that your run out of things for students to do in class, you want to have something ready to throw at your students– something fun, educational, and no-prep.
All of these games are useful in almost any subject at the start of class to review yesterday’s lesson, at the end of class to check for understanding, or for test review.
“What are still you doing here? It’s 6 pm.”
And so began most of my conversations with Jerry, the janitor at my previous school, in the first three years of my teaching.
Hunched over my keyboard, my red eyes peering into my computer screen, like a shipwrecked tourist searching for a chunk of floating wood, I googled endless combinations of words in search for the perfect worksheet, the lesson, the video, that would allow me a bit of rest and keep a group of teens pacified– and, I dared to hope– interested.
Back then, planning a unit or even one lesson was a burden.
Today, with the sites I’ve discovered, the planning is much easier. Here are the 13 websites for English teachers I can’t live without.
In a post earlier this month, I went over the research showing that a teacher’s high academic standards and expectations result in student success.
I always knew high standards work intuitively. My best teachers—the strict-as-nothing English, music, and karate teachers—all pushed me to new heights. They expected and demanded new heights, and I jumped up to deliver.
Now that I’m a teacher, I teach the same way.
Through observation and the reading of research, I’ve found the five secrets of high expectations teachers that any teacher can follow.
Johnny hates English?
Don’t read his awkward paper; erase that high GPA; un-write his job acceptance letter; decline his raise; forget his projects; pass him over for promotion—Johnny can’t write.
This is what I know: If you want to shine in any career, you must write. Prepare yourself by studying English now.