Iowa Council of Teachers of English

Socratic Circles in the Classroom

January 22, 2017

The students in my ninth grade class are seated in two circles. The inside circle of students in chairs is involved in a heated discussion of who is to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. They have a notecard of questions or topics to discuss and a copy of the pink Folger Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet ...

Managing the Beehive

January 15, 2017

Andrew's hand wrapped tight around mine. "Your internal dialogue is like a beehive tonight." I took rapid breaths in and focused on the pancakes in front of me. "There is so much coming and going that you can't sort through one thought before another comes flying in." I lifted my fork and buz...


January 8, 2017

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, November 9, after staying up late to watch the election results, I poured myself a cup of coffee and thought about my upcoming day. I was well-aware that walking into a room of intelligent, educated, and persuasive 8th graders after the drama of the day before was going to be on...

10,000 Steps

December 18, 2016

I used to live in my own little corner of the world.  Or school.     In a small district, when one teaches 9th grade English/Language Arts, she is the only 9th grade English/Language Arts teacher.  Same with 10th grade ELA.  Same with virtually any class I taught.  At the risk of sounding...

Where Do We Go From Here?

December 10, 2016

To My Favorite Visionaries—Language Arts Teachers!   I am so grateful for your vision, for your passion, for your ongoing commitment to kids.  Teachers more than any other group of people are seeing the fall-out from our political process and the election, and we are feeling deeply the n...

A Way Forward

December 4, 2016

It has been a challenging few weeks.  My school community has felt emotionally wrung out.  A fourteen-year-old student was shot at random and lost his life.  Our former SRO was killed in a grisly and incomprehensible ambush-style attack.  The election has rendered many lost, confused, scared, and devast...

Being an Introvert and a Teacher

November 27, 2016

I am an introvert.   I am so intensely introverted that I have made the decision as a 27-year-old to continue living with my mother because I know that if I were to live by myself, I could go days without seeing people.   I am intensely introverted. As a teacher. I don’t know if you know this, but tea...

Igniting a Fire

November 20, 2016

The power of speech--not only for the student but the teacher also. The things I learn about my kids and the connections I make are priceless.... I didn't have much hope for him.   I listened to girlfriends and former girlfriends and teachers and former teachers.   In my head I ...

Book Love Elective Is a Hit Among Students

Book Love Elective Is a Hit Among Students

November 13, 2016

By JoAnn Gage Austin Hall said reading Book Love, Penny Kittle’s text for teachers offering insight to cultivating a passion for reading among adolescents, shaped him as a teacher. “I fell in love with her approach,” said Hall, an English teacher from Dowling Catholic High School in West De...

Love matters.

November 8, 2016

Our students, our kids, went to bed one night and awoke the next morning to learn that while they slept, two officers were murdered in their safe community by one of their own.   When they returned to school the next day, the kids appeared to act normal, but teenagers are good at that. They're goo...

Tales of a First Year Teacher

November 6, 2016

I am the typical Mexican-American English teacher in the middle of Iowa.I am a 23-year-old young man living my dream-- I teach students and I coach football. Education was ingrained into my brain at a very young age, thanks to my mother. I am fortunate that my family background is as diverse as they come--m...

Presence for the Sake of Presence

October 30, 2016

I wasn’t required to be there. At my building, high school teachers aren’t expected to be present for crowd control, so they aren’t. And when I walked downstairs to the lobby and auditorium for sophomore (our high school is 10-12) orientation, so as a new teacher, I would know what I was supposed to...

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