It’s 8 months later, and I still think about Amy’s post regarding mirrors, windows, and doors. In fact, it permeates most of my conversations about education with colleagues, in graduate school, at the coffee shop–okay, kind of kidding on that last one.
But it’s the question at the end of her post that gets me:
How are we making learning matter to our students?
Learning doesn’t matter until students see themselves in the process. The process of learning is transactional, much like the process of making meaning in general, according to Jerome Bruner. This concept of transaction means that students need to be involved. They have to act, rather than simply absorb.
Students must have choice. They must see themselves in other people’s stories. They must tell their own stories, not only for the sake of the “personal narrative,” but because good story is woven through all great writing.
We are heading to NCTE tomorrow. What?! Tomorrow?! While it seems like it’s been the quickest semester on the face of the planet, I’m so glad our presentation regarding narrative has been in the back of my mind. It has made me a better teacher, and caused me to consider how I’m allowing students to tell their stories, or craft a new one, in just about everything we do.
People often say, “For it is in giving that we receive.” I find this to be increasingly true in writing for Three Teachers Talk. It challenges my practice and encourages me to think of my classroom in a way that the progress we make can be transferred to other teachers’ classrooms and communities.
My story for this week includes a whole lot of writing, crossing out, scribbling, Googling, then writing again. In my third year of teaching, I thought I would have fewer firsts. But, alas, in this month alone, it is my first time speaking in front of non-teenagers, first time meeting my literacy idols, first time going to a conference that will hopefully change my life and my practice–or at least bolster the ideals I already hold. I am beyond excited to learn alongside the community of literacy advocates whom I have grown to love over the past year. Will we see you there?!
Three Teachers Talk at #NCTE17, session C.26, Friday at 12:30, room 274.
I’ll be wearing a blue dress, and probably a flushed face accompanied by some armpit stains. Don’t worry, I’ll cover them up with a blazer.
Jessica Paxson teaches English IV, AP Lang, and Creative Writing in Arlington, TX. She runs on coffee and exaggeration. Her husband keeps her sane with his good looks and even-keeled nature. She is currently coming off the high that is the Ember in the Ashes series, writing about real life and all it’s messiness (Jessica Jordana), and attempting to inspire students to be the best version of themselves. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @jessjordana to follow along with her many adventures!