Iowa Council of Teachers of English

The Fifth Chair Flute

The Fifth Chair Flute

May 26, 2019

I was not a great flautist, but I loved band for the music that was attempted, for the camaraderie the attempt instilled, and for the friends that resulted. This is a story about the friend I did not make…. Not even that… This is a story about the absence of a friend I never made. Early in t...

Do You Have Anything to Read Besides Gary Paulsen?

Do You Have Anything to Read Besides Gary Paulsen?

May 12, 2019

One of the biggest hurdles I faced in my first year of teaching in a small rural high school was finding books that reflected the lives of my students who spent most of their time farming or hunting. They’d burned through Gary Paulsen at a young age, and had tried or had read every other book fr...

Three Poems: “Glowing From Within,” “She Continued,” and “The Boundary Waters”

Three Poems: “Glowing From Within,”  “She Continued,” and “The Boundary Waters”

April 28, 2019

Glowing from WithinBy Karen Kayser-Kemp Ambers glow from the warmth within.The burning light draws me inTo the secrets hidden in my soulBeneath my breast, ready to unfold. A fire’s purpose is not to burnOnly warm and sooth, in turn,Those who place their feet near the ringJust wishing for some comfo...

I Spy with my Little Eye…

I Spy with my Little Eye…

April 14, 2019

A Short Story I heard something the other day about flies: As soon as they land on food, they lay maggots. I’d always thought it was like the five-second rule, you had a few seconds to shoo them away. It’s gross either way, but especially so as there's a good chance some of those maggots...

Be Like Bri

Be Like Bri

March 31, 2019

I was reading Angie Thomas’ latest book last weekend, and a quote struck me between the eyes, “All these folks I've never met became gods over my life. Now I gotta take the power back.” As someone who is struggling with both anxiety and grief this school year, in addition to the common stress...

Write with Them

Write with Them

March 17, 2019

​Right before I started teaching, I was shared a blog post from "The Cult of Pedagogy" about finding your marigold. If you haven't read it, I will link it here. The writer talks about a gardening technique involving planting a marigold in a garden bed, to help the other plants grow big and stron...

A Reflection of My Time as ICTE President

A Reflection of My Time as ICTE President

March 3, 2019

I have been very blessed to serve the Iowa Council of Teachers of English over the last two years as President, and even longer as a member of the Executive Board. I wanted to take a moment to share some of the ways in which ICTE has molded me into the teacher I am today. Importance: ICTE taught me...

Bachelor Ducks

Bachelor Ducks

February 17, 2019

Bachelor Ducks You sit on mowed suburban lawns, fussing at each other or animatedly chatting— I can’t tell which Nestling together snoozing on a cool spring morning Sometimes two Sometimes three But where, neighborhood drakes, are your women? Last year I saw one with eight ...

Two Poems: “The Corolla’s Bad Alternator” and “Catalpa Regret”

Two Poems: “The Corolla’s Bad Alternator” and “Catalpa Regret”

February 3, 2019

THE COROLLA’S BAD ALTERNATOR I went driving with my daughter In my truck to see the man Who drives a wrecker, To see if he’d fix my car. On the shiney black of Bank Street’s asphalt We passed a medium mammal casualty Laying still as still, midroad dead, Recognized gone but not for sur...

Censorship: Hiding Kids from Material or Guiding Kids Through Material

Censorship: Hiding Kids from Material or Guiding Kids Through Material

January 20, 2019

Censorship is nothing new. By creating morals, we have to live with the things that challenge our morals. The trouble is, everyone has a different threshold of morality and most people don’t understand this which is a problem when the person is a parent. The trouble is that parents have a variety of...

I Am a Teacher

I Am a Teacher

January 13, 2019

The other day in my high school creative writing class we were talking about identity. I told my students that our identities are often determined by our place in society. I asked them to consider this when developing characters for their fictional stories. I shared with my students that I had worn...

Two Poems: “Reluctant School Reader’s Lament” and “I Never Thought I’d Be a Writing Teacher”

Two Poems: “Reluctant School Reader’s Lament” and “I Never Thought I’d Be a Writing Teacher”

December 3, 2018

Reluctant School Reader’s Lament: A Found Poem* Man, school’s a prison. No freedom to read what interests me. No purpose to English. It’s about NOTHING. Just going from assignment to assignment to assignment to assignment to . . . And I’m totally against textbooks. There’s n...

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