From daTeechur's Desk: The Back to School Edition

Plus... Reflections on a Decade

Happy Friday, friends!

As the summer winds down and the back-to-school season gears up, it's a moment of nostalgia and anticipation. It's not just about pencils, books, and teacher's looks; it's a time to look back, reflect, and understand how history helps us grow.

Let's take a step back to my last full year as a classroom teacher nearly nine years ago in 2014. I tried to blog every single day of the school year…I think I made it to day 20 or so! In addition, we will journey together through the reflections that shaped me as an educator nearly halfway through. I’ll “live-tweet,” so to speak, in my reading of it, and share 2023 commentary.

Plus, I'll share the details of the brand new Manuscript to Publishing Course.

Are you ready? Grab your favorite back-to-school snack, and let's dive in! Without any further ado…a day in the life in 2014!

Day Two: Life’s Big Truths

Today was the second day of the 2014-2015 school year. It was, overall, a great day.

In third period, we got set up on Edmodo (2023: RIP). We used the Actively Learn app to read nonfiction current event selections of their choice. They had three options, one on entrepreneurship, one on sports, and one on stress. They could pick whichever one they wanted. Last night, I went through and added some questions to align with the Common Core State Standards. I made sure to select texts one grade level up, because I want them to be ready for high school. We might as well start early. (2023: In hindsight, I maybe could have used a tool like NewsELA to differentiate and meet the needs of each student.)

After we did this, we talked about what it means to be an active listener. The curriculum wanted us to discuss it aloud, which is so 2013 (2023: Haha). Instead we used our GAFE (2023: Google Workspace) accounts to edit a Google document collaboratively. The first group was having way too much fun, until they realized that we could see in real-time who was typing what. I realized that, with the novelty of the technology, we wouldn’t go anywhere unless I let them explore for a couple of minutes. Eventually, after they got the giggles out, we got to work. I think they made it more about their goals for this year, which is totally fine by me.

Then, we looked at our textbook online. That was pretty cool. It worked on laptops, but not on tablets or smartphones. We read a page together about life’s big truths, or something like that. I can’t remember the exact wording. At the bottom of the page, it said something to the effect of history repeats itself. I asked the kids if they agreed with that statement. One girl asked if the events in Ferguson related to the civil rights movement. We decided to address that for about five minutes. (2023: I agree with the decision to make this a teachable moment.) Some kids hadn’t heard of Michael Brown, and they educated each other. I didn’t speak much during this time, but I did ask them what we can do to help stop injustice in the world. Some said to protest and to spread the word. I told them that I blogged about it, and they can, too. This was the highlight of my day.

Fourth period was very similar, except I had to leave my class in the hands of another teacher for a while to handle a scheduling situation. It’s only day two of school, so there were still some issues with kids knowing where to go. When I came back, we also did the expectations for active listening exercise. This class got to work right away, and stuck more with the original prompt; however, students were saying that other students were deleting their answers. Hey, we’re still learning 🙂 (2023: Always.)

Tomorrow, we are going to have a draft, since the class is having a basketball theme for the gamification. More about that later, because I need to go home and dodge traffic. (2023: This was actually really cool. I will need to blog about this later.)

But really quickly, I also had my B-Day Tech class for sixth period. There are quite a few of them, and I was a little nervous about the size of the class; however, once we got the norms established, they were tuned in. We did a few case studies of digital citizenship, and they shared their best practices for social media. It was a lot of fun. Next class, on Friday, we will talk more about digital citizenship. Next week, we’ll move to audio-visual stuff, then after that, it will be gamified as well.

Ok, gotta go. Thanks for reading!

(2023: This was the beginning of an awesome year. My students and I learned so much together. The relationships were powerful this year, and I am still in touch with many of them. That was my favorite thing about this group of kiddos.)

Challenge: Shoot me back an email about how teaching looked for you a decade ago.

Reflections on my Teacher-versary

Ten years ago today, I began my career as a teacher (2023: I can’t believe it’s almost 20!). I wasn’t yet a teechur, but I was well on my way. No need to reinvent the wheel, check out this throwback from October. It wasn’t so long ago, but in so many ways, it was.

There’s really way too much to say in a single blog post, so I’ll (try to) keep this short and sweet. I just really wanted to take this time to thank everyone who has been there along the way. I would like to give a huge shout out to a few people in particular. Forgive me if I forget to thank someone, but that’s the great thing about being able to edit…I’ll come back and add later.

  • My family and friends…

    • You have been there every step of the way. I really couldn’t have done this without you. Literally, lol. I love you guys so much.

  • My school…

    • Thank you to our fearless leader, who nurtured my strengths and helped me grow.

    • Thank you to the staff…we are a family, and I have loved learning with you all these years.

    • Thank you to all of the students…you teach me more than I could ever teach you.

    • Thank you to the parents…I can see why your children are so great, because apples don’t fall far from trees.

  • My county…

    • Thank you to all of the great educators whom I have met throughout the years.

    • Thank you to T3, as you all are fantastic mentors and have taught me so much. (2023: Now, fantastic teammates!)

    • Thank you to #pgtech. You inspire me and I love our collaborations.

  • My PLN…

    • There are way too many of you to name, but I want to tell you all how special you are to me. Thank you for all of the fantastic ideas and conversations. I’m looking forward to our journey ahead.

I also wanted to thank Howard University for introducing me to the field, as well as the great professors there who have taught me so much.

In addition, thank you to George Mason University, particularly my dissertation committee and cohort members, who have helped me shape my vision.

Thank you to all of the great teachers that I’ve had, who have set the bar high for my expectations of myself and others.

I could go on and on and on, but I will spare you. Thank you to everyone, and cheers to another great decade.

(2023: I will need to update this post on August 16, 2024. Those first years were rough, but I think 2004 me would be proud of me for having stuck it out and found my way.)

Challenge: I’d love to read your Grammy-acceptance-speech-style blog post. Write one, and tag me. You may even want to start up a free newsletter on Beehiiv!

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Alright folks, that does it for me. Thanks so much for reading!

Have a video to share or interested in being a guest blogger? Email me at [email protected].

Stay connected, stay curious, and let the sharing begin!



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