My professional file says I am in my twenty-first year as a high school teacher of English and the communication arts. That means eighteen years and counting at Grafton High School, where I am also the Communication Arts department chair and head varsity baseball coach. I credit many memorable students, supportive colleagues, coffee, and a sense of humor for maintaining my enthusiasm in the classroom.
Admittedly, my journey is guided by a constant desire to improve my craft–always researching, seeking new ideas, and creating lessons. After a decade in the classroom, I earned a Masters of Education which inspired the mantra, “learn with a purpose.” I transformed my classroom into an educational clubhouse, emphasizing student autonomy as a motivating factor in accountability and mastery learning (Where was Daniel Pink’s research and wisdom when I needed it?).
I continue to research best practices in education (for pleasure…forgive me) and find new methods to challenge my professional development (which, I suppose, has led to increased reflection, writing, technology use, and this blog thing). A major component of my master’s thesis and PDP was assessment, an ongoing topic of discussion in education of which I am deeply invested. In 2009, our district had the privilege of a visit from Tom Guskey, who validated my philosophy of grading, verbalized the potential for our students’ growth, and emphasized learning–a slowly-evolving concept in our learning community. I have since served on the district grading committee, where I have engaged in rich dialogue with administrators and teachers, professionals who put the needs of students above all else.
Throughout the past decade I have significantly increased my knowledge and use of technology. In 2010, I created a class web page for greater communication and transparency. I began using Google Apps For Education, even converting my senior writing course to a paperless classroom and with the increased availability of chrome books, have not looked back. This is one way I have pursued my professional goal of providing more meaningful, effective feedback to guide learning. I continue to see impressive results, particularly with bringing out greater voice in student writing.
I am grateful to work with supportive administrative teams (past and present) that have presented challenging expectations and empowered me as a teacher leader. They have supported my professional development by sending me to PLC training, the Midwest Google Summit, the international OECD conference in Washington DC (thanks Ken!), The Institute for Personalized Learning, differentiation workshops, and literacy conferences. I was also sent to the Wisconsin ASCD conference where Rick Wormeli not only wowed the audience with his brilliance and wit, he also affirmed my approach to student learning and assessment in the classroom. I have since enjoyed learning from Rick DuFour, George Curous, Dave Burgess, John Spencer, AJ Juliani, Allison Zmuda, Don Wettrick, Myron Dueck, Kelly Gallagher, James Rickabaugh, Kevin Honeycutt, Michael Matera, and so many other influential voices in education.
In return, I have welcomed leadership roles on numerous high school, 6-12, and K-12 committees (even the committees that create committees). I have represented the district’s ELA team, assessment/grading action team, best practices action team, 21st Century Learning/Technology team, personalized learning team, and have had several opportunities to lead staff development sessions, including facilitating professional learning in the district as a high school representative on the Teaching and Learning Committee (TLC). I am on a mission to promote a growth mindset in our community while making learning more transparent for students and their parents. If I can help other teachers in the process, I am proud to contribute to their professional growth. It is time to celebrate our impact as educators.
I am always willing to share my experiences and network with other educators. I am most drawn to Twitter conversations within the #sblchat, #colchat, #XPlap, #tg2chat, #plearnchat, #plrnchat, #leadupchat, and #tlap communities. I cannot resist edcamps, USM Summer Spark, and The Institute for Personalized Learning (CESA1) Fall Convening, where I have also presented sessions. I welcome conversations, particularly in areas of assessment, visible learning, standards-based grading, innovation and engagement, gamification, teaching writers, and personalizing the learning experience. My professional bio is available under the Consultation, Links, and PD Sessions page.