Oh my goodness, how is it ALREADY almost the END of MAY?!? I resolved to post at least once a month; that didn't seem like too much to ask. Set small goals. Be realistic. I tell my students that kind of advice every day, and yet here I am, at the end of May, with no post since the end of March!
Anyway, there are some big changes coming my way... I've accepted a position as an ITRT (an instructional technology resource teacher) with my division next year, so I'm going to be taking a break from the English classroom for a while. As you can imagine, my emotions are running the gamut (euphoria as I consider not having to grade every night and weekend, anxiety as I think about what my next post will require, devastation as I think of the students I'll miss working with next year--most especially in my Creative Writing and senior classes, just to name a few of the many emotions swirling around me right now).
It's hard to imagine what things will be like in the future. It was time for a change, and I'm ready to make it, but I can't help or avoid the waves of emotion that wash over me.
Our creative writing class dabbles in all sorts of endeavors. Among other things, we produce a monthly newsletter for the student body. It's a fun periodical that mixes interesting facts with occasional serious posts. And horoscopes, a popular read. And puzzles. Most students just do the puzzles. We're okay with that. We love creating them, and at least they're looking at them! Anyway, I've never put anything in the Gobbler Gab myself before, but here's what I wrote for our school newsletter this month:
What a privilege to be a teacher—to share smiles in the hallway, to make small talk in the moments before class begins, to learn and discuss, to share lives and experiences—to really come to know something real about someone (many unique, ever changing, special someones). What a privilege to spend every day doing something fulfilling, working with people who make life meaningful.
I got into teaching by accident, but I’ve stayed with intention. I came here by accident, too—a job opening in the state of Virginia where I found myself moving—and I was so lucky that it worked out to be here. To meet you.
And I’ve loved it here. It’s been a home. You’ve made me feel so welcome. The time flew by and suddenly I was three years in with a little girl at home. And you were always there, always saying hello, asking me about my day, about my baby, about my life. So much hard work, so much laughter. It’s been a great place to be. Thank you for being awesome and for making it fun.
And yet life comes along with surprises and opportunities to try new things. And so it is with sadness but also with excitement that I look ahead to the next chapter, to the great beyond.
And so to the freshmen, I leave Romeo and Juliet scenes with foam swords and “dead” bodies on the ground. To the juniors, I leave endless exploration of social issues and the questions about what to do to make the world better (along with SOL tests, which you’ll be leaving behind soon, as well!). To the AP seniors, I leave timed writings, endless discussions, and ingenious research projects.
And to the Creative Writing kids, I leave behind a piece of my heart. Along with awkward pauses, ill-timed comments, endless hours of filling blank pages, and crazy writing prompts. Not to mention the literary magazine.
And so for now, I'm out of ink. But in the time to come, I’ll still be in the hallways, in the doorways, in the public spaces, in the classrooms. I’ll be around, working for RCPS as an ITRT and trying out new ways to use technology to do projects and assignments.
Say hi when you see me. I’ll be so glad to see you. I promise that I remember, and that I miss you, too.
So there you have it. I'm embarking on a major transition. I'll still be blogging, and I'm sure many of those posts will still focus on English-related topics, especially as I work to document a lot of the ideas that I've been considering over the past few months but haven't had a chance to write. As I move more into the tech world, I may add to what is on here to focus on technology as well... We'll see what comes! I'll still be here, and I hope you'll journey along with me.
Happy New Year! Although I've enjoyed my brief respite from blogging, I'm excited about the upcoming year and upcoming posts!
Recently, I've been getting a flood of emails commenting on posts and requesting materials. Thank you all so much for reading and for taking the time to contact me! Although it sometimes takes me a little while to respond, I do read and respond to each email, so if you don't get a response, please check your junk mail to see if it got filtered (I send them from a gmail address). Feel free to contact me again if you don't hear back from me within a couple of weeks.
One teacher who emailed me recommended The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and mentioned that she plans to teach it with advanced readers this semester. I have heard so many amazing things about that work and had a student do an awesome Prezi book talk on it last spring, but I have yet to read it! It has now been moved to the top of my list (I'm reading Champion, the end of the Legend trilogy by Marie Lu, at the moment and LOVING it). The Book Thief will be one I pick up here in the next couple of months.
What are you planning to teach this year? Please leave comments telling about your latest young adult reads and the ways that you are considering incorporating them into your classes. I'm loving the emails that I am receiving, but comments would be an awesome way to share some of your great ideas!
In other news (I've been working on this segue for a while, and it's still the best I've got...), I am pregnant! Strange thing to say on here, I know. I only mention this here (though I will probably write more extensively about it on my writing page) to say that I'm still (at the beginning of my second trimester) struggling to function like a normal human being (hence the long break between posts). Both because I love collaborating with others and because of my own utter exhaustion, I would LOVE to feature some guest posts in the coming months, so if you have an idea that you'd be willing to share with the teaching community, please email me (through the contact tab at the top of the page) and let me know what you'd like to share! Posts with information about how to teach/ discuss specific young adult works are the ones that get the most readership, but I'm happy to share any innovative teaching ideas that you've tried in the classroom!
Please comment below with YA lit titles that you are loving and/ or teaching this year! I know that my school is considering incorporating more YA lit into our curriculum, and many of you are in the same situation at your respective schools. Thank you for reading and for sharing your ideas.
Greetings and Salutations! It's been a while. As you've noticed if you read these posts frequently, I've been taking a bit of a vacation from blogging. It began in November as I worked frantically to meet my NaNoWriMo word count goals (more to come on that soon!). My husband graciously filled in with a couple of amazing guest posts on memoir and teaching Bless Me Ultima while I was busy increasing my word count. I also attended the NCTE national conference, which was phenomenal--there's a post forthcoming about that experience as well.
I found that even after the November madness had ceased, I still needed a little more time away. I will return with regular weekly posts after the holiday season. Thank you, as always, for reading, and please contact me with any requests or ideas for posts that you'd like to share or see.
K. Ashley Dickson-Ellison is a former high school English teacher (who is now an instructional technology teacher) interested in exploring the integration of trending young adult literature into the English classroom experience. Ashley is also a member of the podcast Unabridged; check out the podcast site below.
Please note: All ideas and opinions are my own and do not represent my current or past employers.
© K. Ashley Dickson and Teaching the Apocalypse 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K. Ashley Dickson and Teaching the Apocalypse with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All thoughts and ideas are the author's and do not represent any employer.