An Amazing Experience

I have just arrived in Charlotte, my mind bubbling over with new knowledge that I cannot wait to implement in my classroom. What makes it even more amazing, is that my internship hasn’t even started yet. Starting next week I will be seeing exactly how the workforce is in need of STEM skills, and how I can take this desire back to my students to better prepare them for a competitive world.

For me to attempt to summarize everything here would be next to impossible, so I want to focus on what I thought to be an integral session from the week. In that session, we talked about branding ourselves as educators. If we have no idea who we are, how can we effectively lead our students to the fountain of knowledge to make them drink?

Let me break down my branding and see how it might play out as an educator. Remember, I’m a “Creative, relevant, reality-connector.”

Creative: My ELA experience in middle school was dry. If I reflect on it, I’m surprised I’ve entered the career. Drills, boring readings, and no chance to be creative. Creativity was shunned, as I remember being forced to write and read a certain way. That’s not to say that I wish to shun standards and let kids have free reign, but whenever an opportunity presents itself to give students the chance to create, I will take it. Students want to take ownership of their learning, and infusing creativity into the curriculum will facilitate that.

Relevant: “This doesn’t matter to me.” “Is this on the test?” “Who cares about commas and plot diagrams?” Sound familiar? In an initial meeting with my mentor at my internship site, we talked in depth about a need for students to be able to compose and comprehend the written word. You might have all the degrees in the world, but if you cannot communicate, or understand communication, you’re already behind the eight ball. Students need to know that there IS a reason we’re reading this, and there IS a reason I’m tough on them when it comes to writing. It’s not to be mean, and it’s not to make them feel inferior. Instead, it’s to prepare them for a competitive world where a misplaced semicolon could be the difference between getting or being passed over for a job.

Reality-Connector: The texts I read in school were often outdated and mundane. I want my students to form personal and world connections with their texts, so that it’s not just an assignment, but instead a gateway to the world. Too often, English Language Arts is seen as a subject that is in its own box, separated from the world at large. I want students to engage with texts that matter, and that also connect to the ever expanding STEM world. Nonfiction texts, and even fiction texts with a foundation in science will help students make those sorely needed connections between their reading and the world.

There is so much to think about after Summer Institute, and I’ll need some time for my brain to stop spinning before I can begin to put it all together, but I look forward to eight weeks from now when my students walk into my classroom, and the myriad befits of the Summer Institute can be shown.

Thank you, Kenan and NCCAT. It was an amazing week.