Growing up, I despised reading! Whaaaat?!? An English teacher who did not like English?!? Yep, that was me. I know this may seem unusual, and even a little bizarre, but getting through a novel was painful. I would have been more likely caught writing a story as oppose to reading one. Don’t get me wrong; I was a great reader. My parents read to me as a child and kept me surrounded by various types of literature. Since I consider myself a “pleaser”, I would never argue with my parents if they asked me to read. I would just politely sit on my beanbag and skim through the pages, being sure to skip a few chapters here and there. When taking my reading skills to school, reading became even more dreadful. I think this was a result of the constant “popcorn” reading sessions during my Literature classes and being called on to finish the chapter if the teacher grew tired of reading. I can remember, my classmates calling on me to read since they enjoyed my ability to read quickly, even though the class (including myself) failed to comprehend the text. I would often ace reading test because my teachers constantly asked recall questions, or what I like to call surface level questions. Literature classes were mind-numbing and did not challenge or remotely begin to tap into my interest. It was with these negative experiences that inspired me to become an English Language Arts teacher.
I have always known that I wanted to be a teacher. For this reason, I applied and received a North Carolina Teaching Fellow Scholarship and headed to the land of Purple and Gold (Pirate Nation). Upon graduating from East Carolina in 2006, I headed straight to the classroom. I chose to begin my career at a low-performing school in Greenville and found myself there four years later. I have always loved learning and I knew that I wanted to obtain a Master’s degreein “something”, but after working with a group of motivated teachers, a group of us decided to work on our National Boards. After two years of this process, I achieved my boards in 2011 and I must say that the process has greatly impacted my teaching. Since completing my boards, I have enrolled in the Curriculum and Instruction Development and Supervision M.Ed program at NC State. Choosing this program appealed to my desire to be either an Assistant Principal, Curriculum Specialist, or a director of a Beginning Teacher Program. At the present time I am the English Language Arts Department Chair and I serve on our county’s Common Core Instructional Planning Committee.
It was not until high school that I truly began my love affair with reading. I can not recall the exact book that spark this interest, however, it was during these years that I had the autonomy to showcase my learning and comprehension of a book creatively. During these years, I was able to connect with books on a different level and I would often find myself searching the shelf for my next “lover”. As my love for writing grew, I found myself checking out and buying books in order to study writers’ craft.
When taking a Reading’s Foundation course, my love for books continued to flourish. My professor challenged us to read and prepare novel units based on genres that confronted our likings. Nowadays, my reading diet consists of text assigned by my professors and tons of nonfiction reading, but I definitely look forward to being able to delve into more fictional reading.
Prior to enrolling at NC State, I thought I had it “going on” when it came to technology usage. Boy, was I wrong! My incorporation of SmartBoard lessons were a thing of the past and the classes that I took gave me a wealth of knowledge of ways to effectively incorporate technology within my lessons. Through tools such as Voice thread, Voki, WallWisher, and Wikis, I am able to enhance my teaching and motivate my students. While I am still learning the ends and outs of these tools, the classes that I have taken have shown me the beauty of making them a part of meaningful lessons that have a lasting impact on my students.
My students constantly come to me with inquiries about “good” books and unfortunately, my data bank is outdated. Through this course, I hope to be out with the old in with the new. I hope that this class will challenge my ability to plan thought-provoking lessons centered around adolescent literature. As a teacher, it is easy to become complacent and I truly believe that this class will serve as a springboard to a wide variety of ideas that can be incorporated within my classroom. Additionally, I hope that this class will introduce me to new authors and new titles that can be studied within my classroom. Right now, my classroom library consist of about 200 novels that are at least 3 years old and I would like to enhance my classroom library by incorporating novels that will connect with my students and provide them with a meaningful reading experience.
I must be honest, since I have started teaching, I have pretty much chosen novels for my students that have either been recommended to me by another teacher or those that have been placed on my county’s pacing guide, which can sometimes be outdated. Although I try to teach different novels with different groups of students, for the past 6 years my class novels and literature circle selections have been static. I must admit that since I am getting older, my ability to connect with my students’ interests is shifting, so through this course, I hope to challenge myself to read novels that my students would love, yet I would not naturally gravitate towards. It is important for teachers of English to remember that although we are teaching the same subject, students’ interests constantly change, and for that reason I am looking forward to exploring novels that is of high interest.
Since there is a push for 21st century learning, I am looking forward to learning creative ways to incorporate technology in my Language Arts classroom. My hope is that this class will assist me in being more comfortable with the tools that I choose to use in my classroom. I anticipate learning new ways to communicate with my students and ways to further create a classroom community through technology. While I thought I was effectively incorporating technology in my classroom, I am learning that the worldwide web is just that “WORLD WIDE,” and is constantly upgrading. With that being said, I hope to upgrade my use of technology within my classroom.
As I synthesize the information that I have included in my Pre-Foki, I realize the importance of self-reflection and need for profession and personal growth in order to obtain optimal results. I have adopted a philosophy that every child deserves a great teacher and I believe that in order to be that teacher, we must reflect on our past, present, and future journey. This assignment has allowed me to do just that. From reminiscing on my dislike for reading to planning ways to become a phenomenal English teacher, this FOKI encouraged me to take a deeper look into my teaching practices and my effectiveness as an ELA teacher. I do not want to be “that” teacher that reminds students how much they dislike reading, but I strive to become the teacher that sparks interest in all of my students and the one that creates life-long readers.