Iowa Council of Teachers of English

Year One, Part Two

Year One, Part Two

March 18, 2018

I’m drawn back to the aromas of deli platters and the sounds of dice crawling on the table for the game. I’m reminded of the warm, parting hugs from my coworkers that became my second family. I’m reminded of the words my work “big brother” Andrew told me the night before I left my hometown...

Short Story: A Slice of Pi

Short Story: A Slice of Pi

March 4, 2018

A Slice of Pi Once again, Charles walked away from a grave site alone.  He turned one last time to view the casket, draped in the circular spray of flowers.  The last of the family and friends scattered toward their cars, some heading back to the church.  But Charles was not headed to the church...

Is it Soda or Pop? When Racism Isn’t Confronted

Is it Soda or Pop? When Racism Isn’t Confronted

February 25, 2018

Is it Soda or Pop? Today I had a realization. My family has done nothing to stop my brother's racism. They, in fact, have let it go so often that it's not even a second thought to them. Over the summer, my grandparents, my cousin, Kristin, and her wife, Erica, arrived at my parents' house from South...

Book Review:  “Solo” by Kwame Alexander

Book Review:  “Solo” by Kwame Alexander

February 12, 2018

Book Review:  Solo by Kwame Alexander Released August 1, 2017 For those teachers and readers who fell in love with Crossover and Booked, the prospect of a new book by Kwame Alexander can make their hearts flutter at the mere thought.  A few months ago, I was fortunate to get my hands on an ARC o...

Seasons of Being a Literacy Educator

December 24, 2017

This year I made a career shift. After 26 years of English teaching at the high school and college levels at Iowa schools ranging from Iowa Valley High School in Marengo to Unity Christian in Orange City to Northwestern College, I am now working part-time out of my home. I supervise pre-service teacher...

Project-Based Learning with a High School Literary Magazine

December 17, 2017

I was blessed to inherit a vibrant literary magazine extracurricular tradition at my high school. Every year that I've guided the Washington Literary Press, at least twenty students have been active in the club, which meets twice a week after school, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for about 45 minut...

Giving Students a Voice

December 3, 2017

In my classroom I have two large signs on the whiteboard. These signs identify two things I refuse to let my students say: “can’t” and “is this good?”. Hopefully the reasoning for the first is obvious, the second might take a little explaining.     You see, my eighth g...


November 5, 2017

I’ve lived in my apartment for almost seven months now, but everything has felt a-jumble, a little off.  Part of that, I think, is that my apartment has been a mess ever since I moved in. When I  moved out of my town house, I decided it was time to say goodbye to my bookshelf.  It had a good ...

Illuminated by Illustrations

October 22, 2017

In the past three years, my position in the English/Language Arts department has changed quite a bit. Long story short, I am now the Reading Specialist for the middle school. I teach a variety of classes, including one section of sixth grade Reading, one section of a reading elective for seventh ...

Building Empathy

October 8, 2017

I turn to repair books and online forums for help when I'm working on my VW Bug. The web is full of predators, but I don't think too many people working on Beetles are mean spirited - most intend to help.     The same can be said of the people on pinball forums. Their responses...

Rituals and traditions that cemented teacher relationships through my years of teaching

September 24, 2017

Our teaching colleagues are a network of support who become our work family if we are lucky enough to find a school to call home where we grow older together. We are more likely to enjoy our jobs and stay in the teaching profession if we have colleagues we can call our friends and share a beer, t...

To Lose a Student

September 10, 2017

Today I sat in the bleachers of our high school gymnasium as we celebrated the life of Cody Wills, a May 2017 graduate, who tragically died in a car accident on August 18.  The bleachers were full.  The chairs on the gym floor were full.  I’m surprised that we didn’t need a super-duper ShopVac...

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