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Confessions of a Language Arts Teacher

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Nichelle Gaddis

on 26 September 2013

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Transcript of Confessions of a Language Arts Teacher

Confessions of a Language Arts Teacher
The Confessor
Mrs. Priwer-35 year teacher. Graduate of The Ohio State University; Bachelors of Science in Education, Bachelors of Arts in English, and a Masters of Arts in Reading Education.
Teaches AP Literature and Composition, IB English 1, and British Literature and Composition at Westerville South High School, in Westerville, Ohio.
I had her for 3 years for AP Literature and Composition, British Literature and Composition and AP Language and Composition.
Methodology of the Confessor
Goal: "To get students to read a wide variety of materials and to enjoy and appreciate both the content and the writers' techniques"
"Foster an atmosphere of mutual respect, let students know my expectations and keep them interested as much as possible"
Holds "individual conferences with students to show them how to improve individual weaknesses"
My Methodology
To instill a classroom of mutual respect, understanding and to ensure all students feel safe to share their works
To promote creative assignments as much as academically voiced assignments
To have my students believe that their writings can change history
"Persuasive letters have changed history. Maybe your next one will, too!"
The Confessor and Teaching
When grading informal assessments Mrs. Priwer corrects errors in general. However, with informal assignments she grades on the content; these "assignments are to asses whether they understood...the reading"
She typically uses technology to do "research, word-processing and audiovisual aids"
Mrs. Priwer wants each of her students to leave her classroom knowing how to "think before they write"
To engage her students she "start[s] with some good prompts; shares bloopers (anonymously) and uses modeling"
Myself and Teaching
Informal works should be graded focusing on content. Corrections should be advised as well.
I would like to integrate a greater use of technology into my classroom. I like using Poll Everywhere to check understanding, blogs for informal writings, and an online classroom.
I would love for my students to be able to leave my classroom knowing how to think before they write. Thinking before you write allows for better structure and organization.
Engage students with freedom to select topics and hands on exploration for research
I want my students to leave my class with an appreciation for my subject, and ability to form their own informed opinions, and to be able to express themselves in a logical written format.

Thank your Mrs. Priwer for teaching me a lot more than I ever imagined that I had learned. While I may never be a Language Arts teacher--what I learned in your class applies to my subjects in such a profound way. Thank you for letting me interview you!
What made you decide that you wanted to be a writing/Language Arts Teacher?
"I actually started college intending to major in Math, but I didn't have very good teachers. I decided I liked English better and then thought I'd better go into education because I didn't know what other kind of job I could get as an English major"
I came to college to study instrumental music. I did not enjoy the people I was with on a daily basis. I moved to High School Social Studies; but decided I really wanted a job when I graduate. I moved on to MCE Social Studies and Science. I love writing, I find it enjoyable which is why I am pursuing my endorsement in Language Arts. Mrs. Priwer attempted to help me hone by grammar, spelling, and syntax skills. She was also the only teacher I had that really taught me how to write.
Do you communicate with parents regularly?
"I don't initiate contact with parents very often. My students are juniors and seniors and they need to be functioning independently. If a parent contacts me with a concern, I try to respond to them right away. I will meet with parents anytime we are both available, but I find e-mail usually works best."
I will be working with middle school students, so I plan on doing a monthly newsletter home to parents through email. Obviously, I will attend parent teacher conferences. I will also meet with parents as necessary per their requests.
What is the hardest thing, in your opinion, to teach about writing?
"Balancing generalizations with specific examples and textual references, and smoothly integrating them."
I have not yet taught writing. I want to teach writing to my Social Studies and Science students in a way that helps them become stronger, more confident writers. Writing is very important, especially with all of the online communication that we do. Our students need to be able to communicate in a written format that is clear, concise, and intelligible.
Westerville South High School
Classroom from W.S.H.S
Personal Experience as a Student
*Disclaimer* Since my car accident I have some issues remembering things. I'm pretty positive these memories are accurate.
The notorious window picture!
The Final
Multiple 5 paragraph essays due at the end of the finals period. I failed. Any student would feel awful at failing a final. I cared a lot about the assignment, wanted to do well on it, and thought I was prepared for it. Clearly, I wasn't. Honestly, I rarely felt like my writing was good enough...on the occasion where I would do well, I was thrilled. Typically, though, I assumed I wasn't going to do too well.
The Readings
This was the main reason I took her classes! The books, stories, plays, etc that we would read were amazing. I found a genre of books that I cannot live without because of her class. For one of the classes there was a project where I read 1984 and Brave New World. I love distopian society literature and I gobble up those books. Although, I apologize from the bottom of my heart for not 'getting' Catch 22 and for never finishing Emma...it seemed like such a good book...but it was so dry and so long!!!
The Lock Down
While I was in high school we had two lock downs. One was because someone robbed a nearby bank and ran towards the school. The other was to locate a gun a student brought to school. During the latter lock down, you could see the fear on Mrs. Priwers' face. You could also see how much she cared for each and everyone of us. It's sometimes hard to see teachers as 'human'...but it became abundantly clear after spending something like 6 hours in a tiny classroom.
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