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 Post subject: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:19 pm 
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Do we have a general thread for teachers on the PPK? I searched, but couldn't find one. I know we have a few teachers floating around on this board. Where are you?! I think I only know of lavawitch.

I'm doing reports right now and I'm in desperate need of procrastination fodder. I'm at the end of my list of students and it's just.so.hard to write these last few. We have to write quite lengthy reports and I'm way behind on them.

I'm curious what subjects and age groups people teach. I teach 6th-10th grade (year 7 through year 11) English in an international school in the Netherlands. It's an IB school and I really like it, though I can't wait until we grow and I don't have so many preps!


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:53 pm 
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Good thread idea! I teach English in a large comprehensive school in the UK. this year my classes are year 7, year 9. year 11, and years 12 and 13.* I love my job, but I do have to keep reminding myself that I love it! Things at school are very stressful at the moment, mainly due to "politics".

*not sure how UK stages relate to US grades: year 7 is 11/12 year olds; year 9 is 13/14 year olds; year 11 is 15/16 year olds and years 12and 13 is 16 - 18 year olds.

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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:58 pm 
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I'm not teaching currently (although I have in the past); I am an instructional designer and I'm working on my PhD in Curriculum & Instruction - so I'll probably be lurking even if I don't have too much to contribute!


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:35 pm 
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I'm doing a PhD in English and teaching freshman writing as part of the program. I'm just heading back from the winter break (which was only a "break" from academia, since it entailed holidays, shopping, cooking, cleaning, house guests, my son's college applications, and MLA at the end of it all) on Thursday, and am in a bit of denial about the whole thing. On a side note, pickledtreats, my college-applying son is in an IB program; he's just submitted his extended essay on Ovid (this is his 6th year of Latin; he wants to do classics), and has really loved the program.

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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:12 pm 
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English professor, community college. Best job in the world!


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:23 am 
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Nicole wrote:
I'm not teaching currently (although I have in the past); I am an instructional designer and I'm working on my PhD in Curriculum & Instruction - so I'll probably be lurking even if I don't have too much to contribute!


Fellow lurker! Hoping to start licensure classes in the fall.


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:38 am 
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I don't have a degree in education, but I did teach beginning photography and art appreciation on the college level when I was getting my MA. Now I teach art in after school elementary programs (K-5) and on Saturdays at the museum, where the parents are also present. I may not have exactly the same experiences as those of you in the full time teaching world, but I can share some of the frustrations (laziness, entitlement, crazy parents) and joys (love it when they really get it!).

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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:14 pm 
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I'm, as in next Monday, finishing a teacher training course. It's a fairly low-grade one, but I'll be qualified as an unqualified teacher (if that makes any sense) and hopefully going to pick up some teaching hours through work soon.

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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:34 pm 
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I'm a teacher taking a few years out of the workforce to stay home with small kids. I've taught almost every grade K-5, plus library, plus literacy intervention. Once my kids are in school I'd love to get back into literacy.


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:48 pm 
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I'm a primary School teacher in the UK. I currently teach 8, 9 & 10 year olds. I teach most of the subjects: Maths, English, Science, Art, Design & Technology, History, Geography, P.E, Spanish & Social emotional/citizenship stuff. I also have a day a week where I work with the special needs children in the school, so that can be anyone between 4 & 11.
Luckily we only have to write reports once a year. They suck!


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:07 pm 
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I'm a behavioral therapist with a Master's Degree in special education. I teach small social skills groups and do individual therapy. My current class is 4-5 year olds with varying diagnoses, from Autism to attachment disorder. I love my job and I love this age and luckily as it's a private school, I don't have nearly as many reports as I would otherwise. I do take data on the children every day so there is a lot of that.

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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 2:59 pm 
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I'm a teacher! Like Desdemonda, I'm doing a PhD (Japanese literature) and am an instructor for my program. I spent my MA years teaching courses developed by my departments (with the exception of a Hong King cinema course I designed). Currently I've got a really cool gig--I typically choose which course I would like to teach in any given semester and have full control over content. I'm on a fellowship for the 2013-2014 academic year and don't have to teach, but I'll be teaching contemporary Japanese popular culture in the summer and fall, and in spring I'm scheduled for Japanese cinema.


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:02 pm 
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Having control over content is awesome, but also so daunting! Do you guys feel that way, chop_socky and Desdemona? I'm at a new school where I am responsible for building the secondary English Language & Literature curriculum and it's sometimes anxiety-inducing for me. I'm always wondering if I'm doing enough/the right thing/too much/etc.

Also, I'm the only person in my subject at this small school so I don't have anyone to really build this with me. I have an American literature and African-American literature background, so of course a lot of the content I choose comes from those canons. I try my best to diversify the content, but I find myself using a lot of American classics. I try not to see this as a bad thing - just as a characteristic of being an American English teacher - but it makes me self-conscious!

Once this year is over I'm going to consider building each year's program around a theme of some sort. I do appreciate the freedom I have to experiment and build this thing from scratch, but it can be intense. I like this curriculum design stuff, though. It was new for me two years ago when we started and I still don't have any formal training, but I'm getting a crash course.

I have a BA in English and a teaching license, but I recently completed my MA in Educational Technology at MSU and I handle tech integration at our school as well. I used to teach design tech in addition to English, but thank goodness we grew enough to where I didn't have to teach both at the same time!


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:28 pm 
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Taught physical sciences for a few years at the high school level.

Now I run a K-7 supplemental school in a synagogue that meets two afternoons and one weekend morning a week and have 18 teachers working for me. I have a Board that oversees the school but is mostly hands-off, so I control pretty much everything, mwah-ha-ha.


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:51 pm 
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I teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology) to Kindergarten-5th grade students in NYC and love it. Next Wednesday I start classes to get my building and district administrator's licenses.


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:32 pm 
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I've been k-5 for quite a few years. I'm phasing out this year as I get my massage practice off the ground, so I'm subbing. It's....not fun. It's like crowd control and I feel so mean and horrible by the end of the day. But its flexibility makes it worthwhile (for the time being).


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:48 am 
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I teach English as a foreign language. After 6+ years working abroad, I've just moved back to the UK and am teaching adults here. It's quite different having classes with mixed nationalities (unlike when I worked in Italy and all the students were Italian, for example), and only teaching adults rather than kids as well, as I've done in the past. So far I'm enjoying it - all the different backgrounds make for more interesting discussions, and I love hearing about their first impressions of England.


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:32 am 
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I teach special care dentistry and evidence based dentistry.


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:05 pm 
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I teach sophomore (15-16 year olds) English in a high poverty district. It's certainly a thing!

Pickledtreats, I got to design my curriculum, and it can be really great--I get to teach things I love and want to teach!--but also frustrating. I'm limited by the books that we have access to, so I designed this amazing curriculum... and then had to scrap a lot of it, or whittle it down to just excerpts I could photocopy, and so on. Then I had to make changes as I went based on student skill level, and realizing that although my kids are in 10th grade, most of them read many grade levels below, so I had to change what I expected of them. Then, of course, there's the hurt feelings when my kids hate what we're reading. At least when I was teaching mandatory curriculum I could shrug it off and tell them "hey, I have no choice!" and pretend like class would be SO MUCH COOLER if I got to pick what we read. Now we read things I picked (and, I'm sorry, but I picked GREAT DAMN CHOICES) but they whine and complain and trash the books and it makes me sad, even though I know that's ridiculous.

Exams are next week, and I have my students do a portfolio project based on synthesis and reflection of their work and growth from the semester. We've been working on it all week, which is nice for me, because I'm just answering questions and giving feedback and helping out. It's a fairly relaxing week. Next week, though... Next week I have to grade and comment on 175 portfolios in a 4 day window. Yikes.

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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:50 pm 
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I just woke up from a "nap" that lasted from 7 pm to midnight. Oops. That was my body crashing after 6,000+ words of narrative comments and marking for reports this week.

I teach all different levels in the same class. I have some incredible writers that I have to challenge and I have many ELL students since it's an international school. One is reading her first full English book in 10th grade.

Right now my 10th graders are in a multigenre research project unit and we are reading "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks". I really like that book as an example of research, using different genre to tell a story, creative nonfiction, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2014 10:42 am 
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The project I did this week was such a hit. It was just making paper beads and stringing them up to make necklaces, but the kids LOVED it. Every site I went to, the supervisor was telling me what a fantastic project it was. And yesterday was the biggest success of all. I'm at a community center on Fridays and the kids there are super sweet, but they're a bit wild and very loud, and usually just rush through the project so they can go outside or watch a movie or whatever. Well, they still rushed through, but I couldn't be upset, because they were all fantastic at it! They made so many perfect little beads, at a much more advanced level than any of the schools I went to previously, and they were QUIET. I've never heard the room so quiet before. It was amazing.

Makes me lament a little over the projects I put much more thought into that are more cerebral and art based, but I'm happy with a success regardless.

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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:23 pm 
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pickledtreats wrote:
Having control over content is awesome, but also so daunting! Do you guys feel that way, chop_socky and Desdemona? I'm at a new school where I am responsible for building the secondary English Language & Literature curriculum and it's sometimes anxiety-inducing for me. I'm always wondering if I'm doing enough/the right thing/too much/etc.


Sorry I'm so late replying to this! I experienced some anxiety the first time I designed my own course, but when all was said and done it was the best class I had taught to date. These days I love creating syllabi. When you're in charge of your own content you can design the course around your own strengths, which means you feel more confident in the classroom! Occasionally I will get overly ambitious and include too much material for a given week on my syllabus. In those cases I let my students vote one what stays and what gets cut, and I transform the cut material into some sort of extra credit writing assignment (which only the really engaged students who would earn As anyway turn in. Ha!).


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:33 am 
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chop_socky wrote:
pickledtreats wrote:
Having control over content is awesome, but also so daunting! Do you guys feel that way, chop_socky and Desdemona? I'm at a new school where I am responsible for building the secondary English Language & Literature curriculum and it's sometimes anxiety-inducing for me. I'm always wondering if I'm doing enough/the right thing/too much/etc.


Sorry I'm so late replying to this! I experienced some anxiety the first time I designed my own course, but when all was said and done it was the best class I had taught to date. These days I love creating syllabi. When you're in charge of your own content you can design the course around your own strengths, which means you feel more confident in the classroom! Occasionally I will get overly ambitious and include too much material for a given week on my syllabus. In those cases I let my students vote one what stays and what gets cut, and I transform the cut material into some sort of extra credit writing assignment (which only the really engaged students who would earn As anyway turn in. Ha!).


What kind of class are you teaching?

I teach secondary kids, so a lot of the focus is on skills more than content, but I still find the content part a bit scary! I like choosing things that work to my strengths, but I also feel the pressure to move beyond that so the kids have a more well-rounded experience. I move back and forth.

Also, I'm struggling with how to fit everything in - reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, etc. I see my students four times a week for about 45 minutes in separate classrooms each time. It makes finding some routines hella difficult.

That said, I am having some successes with my 10th graders and a multigenre project. It's my second time trying to do one of these projects. The first time was pretty rough, but this time I feel like I'm more on track. We're reading "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" and I'm using that non-fiction text as inspiration for the kids to practice with different genre. For example, we took some time one week to right a poem inspired by something in the book. A few kids wrote poems from the point of view of Henrietta's cancer cells. It was really cool! And yesterday I asked them to write a to-do list for Henrietta just to show how seemingly trivial genres can actually be pretty powerful. Some of the kids wrote some moving to-do lists for her.

Those little instances make me feel like they are getting the idea and purpose of the multigenre project and that research can be pretty cool. It makes me hopeful that they will enjoy their projects. I gave them complete choice in topic they just had to come up with appropriate research questions and conference with me. A few kids have some really awesome topics.

I'm a little self-conscious about my curriculum at the moment since we just had parent meetings.


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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 7:01 am 
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I used to teach high school language in a private school (Japanese and Spanish, then later ESL) and I feel like the multigenre project was the only place where I look back and shudder. Each time I did something like that a few students were AMAZING. the rest completely flopped. luckily for me the ones who flopped were the ones who normally shone, and vice versa, so it was a bit of an equalizer, but the straight A students who got a 80 were Very Displeased and oh, parent meetings.....

But that was a long time ago! I just stopped teaching in June, but am still designing curriculum for corporate english language programs and coaching. And designing assessments. Not much, but enough to keep my hand in it.

I really, really enjoyed designing curricula- I developed the Japanese program in the high school and have almost always designed my own for English language. But I began teaching on the assumption that I always had to flesh out my classes, even if using a skeleton curriculum, and so I "grew up" thinking about how to bring extra things into completely bare-bones settings. And I began with teenagers in Japan in language schools, so I got the habit of using lots of manipulables, TPR, physical activities to keep everyone awake, unusual approaches to keep everyone on task. I was surprised when I got to teach in the US at the high school and when I broke out these standby activities, my fellow teachers were so impressed- I thought everyone did this stuff. It's exhausting, and requires a lot of prep, but I can't imagine running a class without it. [my kid just started teaching a peer, and i set her up for a class and afterwards she said to me "wow, i've watched you teach for years but i never realized how much you have to prepare, i thought you just made it up as you went along." ha, ha, ha.]

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 Post subject: Re: Teachers of the PPK!
PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:35 pm 
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pickledtreats wrote:

What kind of class are you teaching?

I teach secondary kids, so a lot of the focus is on skills more than content, but I still find the content part a bit scary! I like choosing things that work to my strengths, but I also feel the pressure to move beyond that so the kids have a more well-rounded experience. I move back and forth.

Also, I'm struggling with how to fit everything in - reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, etc. I see my students four times a week for about 45 minutes in separate classrooms each time. It makes finding some routines hella difficult.

That said, I am having some successes with my 10th graders and a multigenre project. It's my second time trying to do one of these projects. The first time was pretty rough, but this time I feel like I'm more on track. We're reading "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" and I'm using that non-fiction text as inspiration for the kids to practice with different genre. For example, we took some time one week to right a poem inspired by something in the book. A few kids wrote poems from the point of view of Henrietta's cancer cells. It was really cool! And yesterday I asked them to write a to-do list for Henrietta just to show how seemingly trivial genres can actually be pretty powerful. Some of the kids wrote some moving to-do lists for her.

Those little instances make me feel like they are getting the idea and purpose of the multigenre project and that research can be pretty cool. It makes me hopeful that they will enjoy their projects. I gave them complete choice in topic they just had to come up with appropriate research questions and conference with me. A few kids have some really awesome topics.

I'm a little self-conscious about my curriculum at the moment since we just had parent meetings.


I teach undergrads at a four-year university, so our situations are a bit different. I did work with an Asia Outreach program for awhile, and my job there was to guest-teach Japan-related topics in area middle and high school classrooms. The projects you describe above sound like the sort of things I tried to incorporate into my secondary school lessons, as well. Lots of interactive stuff-- writing, drawing, role-playing, and anything else that involved them in the process of learning as opposed to requiring them to listen to me lecture.

As for managing time, I can't help much there! I've requested to only teach 1:15 courses twice a week and/or 3-hour courses one a week because I hate hate hated teaching on a 50-minute, thrice a week schedule. When I was teaching on that schedule, I would often find myself 35 minutes into a class meeting and just getting started on an activity that would take at least 30 minutes. Ugh.


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