Posted in Advice for rookies, Background, Office politics, Professionalism

Chapter 30: Professional Relationships

This is my boss. She and I get along well. Part of that has to do with her: She understands what I’m trying to do, honors most of my requests, and doesn’t lose her mind if we disagree occasionally. Part of it has to do with me: I understand what she’s trying to do, honor most of her requests, and don’t lose my mind if we disagree occasionally.

This balance is simple, but it requires some effort. Some people won’t talk to administrators unless they’re in trouble. That’s a recipe for disaster. I’m not saying y’all need to be BFFs, but if you chat with your building administrator regularly, you’ll understand each other better when conflicts arise.

Continue reading “Chapter 30: Professional Relationships”

Posted in Background, Gratuitous literary references

Chapter One: Where It Began

Once upon a time, a young woman loved books. She loved them so much that she decided to be an English teacher when she grew up. She worked hard, got a bachelor’s degree in English education, and landed a job teaching in a St. Louis County school district as soon as she graduated from college.

This district was run by the sort of Muggles who were perfectly normal, thank you very much, and preferred for their teachers to be as strict as Severus Snape, as boring as Cuthbert Binns, and as unimaginative as Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive.

There would be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in their classes — which was unfortunate, because this young woman liked foolish wand-waving and silly incantations. She had, after all, grown up exploring the Hundred Acre Wood with her beloved Winnie-the-Pooh plushie, starting wild rumpuses with Max and the Wild Things, running up and down Klickitat Street with Ramona Quimby, matching wits with Gollum, wandering to the far edge of town in search of the Once-ler’s Lerkim, and singing endless scales on the off-chance the Phantom of the Opera might hear her and draw her through the mirror and into his lair for a few voice lessons.

Her head was squarely in the clouds where it belonged, and her teaching style reflected that.

Her Muggle administrators were unimpressed, so she wound up leaving the classroom to spend the next decade chasing stories and laying out pages at various newspapers from Illinois to Oklahoma.

Then, in 2008, something downright magical happened: She got pink-slipped from the Tulsa World, took a secretarial job at a local nonprofit, and met a high-school principal who coaxed her back into the classroom, where she discovered that her gonzo approach to teaching had somehow become fashionable. Free to be as creative as she liked, she thrived, and her students did, too.

Today, she teaches high-school English and journalism at a tiny school district in rural New Mexico, where her students roll around on yoga balls and pet mermaid pillows in a classroom covered with elaborate literary-themed murals, and where her superintendent wholeheartedly endorses all manner of foolish wand-waving and silly incantations, as long as her students keep passing their OWLs and NEWTs PARCC and EOC tests.

This blog is her attempt to share some of her better ideas with other teachers.