Iowa Council of Teachers of English

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Teresa Lawler, Teacher Writer
March 24, 2020

Marie Kondo has people around the world cleaning out closets and emptying bookshelves. As part of the purging process, cleaners ask themselves, “Does this item bring me joy?” I learned nearly fifty years ago about the ramifications for the giver and receiver when an item fails to meet this standard. Mom lands a job as a Head Start assistant. It doesn’t pay as well as being an aide at the hospital...

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A Glittering Pause

Haley Moehlis
March 14, 2020

It was the first stretch of quiet I’d had all Winter Break. I was relishing the alone time upstairs. The baby was napping. The oldest two were playing with friends outside. And Milo was quiet. Too quiet. The kind of quiet that spells disaster. I wanted to savor the quiet, but I knew (as every parent does) that something was underway down there. Something messy, gross, destructive.  I found...

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“Breaking Out” with House Arrest by K.A. Holt

Britt Jungck, Teacher Writer
February 29, 2020

Something beautiful happens when you feel backed into a corner...you have nowhere to go but out. This fall, three teachers at Bunger Middle School experienced this phenomena and decided to embrace its power, instead of wallow in the powerlessness that can often plague our profession.   During a typical PLC meeting full of data about closing the achievement gap, analyzing August FAST scores, preparing...

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Standardized Is the Antithesis of Creative

JoAnn Gage, Teacher Writer
January 31, 2020

When I go out to eat at the Olive Garden, I know exactly what to expect. The menu and decor are standard and successful, and cooks there are able to follow a recipe to create the same dishes in every branch of the chain. But I wonder if Olive Garden cooks ever garner the inventive nature and deep understanding to become top chefs in diverse cooking environments. And I doubt they feel deep satisfaction...

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Common Sense Sunset

Rex Muston, Teacher Writer
January 13, 2020

My bright focused third hour pupils tell me a check marked box is a visual representation of resolution.   Driving home I double take the sunset, pausing momentarily at high speed, caught in a whirlpool of January insight, resolved to the littlest things.   My conscious self makes a check mark similar to 137 times before in 54 years, and my psyche shrugs,...

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Fairy’s Winter Journal

Tracy Tensen, Teacher Writer
January 1, 2020

Dec. 29, 2019 It’s especially chilly today.  I don’t mind snow—it is the most lovely part of the off season, but this wind is another thing altogether.   One might think that fairies go into complete hibernation in the coldest of the months, but this is certainly not the case.  Just last week, for instance, I was in charge of the winter solstice event for the entire backyard.  All...

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