Nov. 18, 2013
Segment I – Background and Inspiration
Tell your story. Where are you from and how long have you been teaching? What classes have you taught?
— She started student teaching, which turned into her first job because the master teacher called in sick and never returned. That turned into a 32-year career teaching middle and high school English in Santa Monica, California. She had the same desk for 27 years.
Who has helped you in your journey to become a master teacher?
— Bill Clawson, 20 years her senior, took her under his wing. While he was different in size — 6’3″, 250 pounds — and style it was the approach that he shared with her. It was the daily conversations of reflective practice that really made the difference. This is something she discusses in her book, With Rigor for All, Second Edition: Meeting Common Core Standards for Reading Literature
It is important for other teachers to know that we all have had setbacks in the classroom. Identify an instance in which you struggled as a teacher and explain what you learned from that experience.
— A student threatened to throw the desk out the window. Yet, she had a community of teachers around her that cared that not only would she survive, she would thrive. In 32 years she never sent a kid to the office, she did not want to give up authority. Carol believes that when you turn a student over to a higher power, you give up authority, you give up control.
Why teach English and the language arts?
— Why teach anything else? Get paid to read Hamlet? It is the most wonderful life in the world. Like Stephen Greenblatt, she believes that literature is the most astonishing technological means human beings have discovered to convey experience. Her job was to bring those means to students. She wants literature to open up like a flower for students. Her goal was for students to see how they can be readers too. If you believe it very strongly and you can convey it with enthusiasm, students will come a long way with you.
What is one thing that you love about the classroom?
— The discussion that take a direction that is never planned but is about the text and when the period ends, she knows more than she did before. The lucky aspect of teaching is that we become learners.
Segment II — Digging into the Teacher Bag of Goodies
What book do you recommend to a developing teacher?
— Papers, Papers, Papers: An English Teacher’s Survival Guide It is about handling the paper load. Teachers are not copy editors there to correct every error. She offers other approaches to responding to student work. Give them one thing to think about.
What is one thing a teacher can do outside the classroom that can pay off inside the classroom?
— Roll with your strengths. It is critically important to cultivate one’s own interest. Carol uses visual art all the time in the classroom. Her friend uses sports metaphors to explain difficult concepts to kids. It makes the classroom experience richer.
Is there an internet resource that you can recommend which will help teachers grow professionally?
What can a teacher can do to make students better writers?
— Have students put a slash mark at every end punctuation. It will allow students to see their sentence variety, which is an important element in effective writing.
What novel or poem do you love to teach and why?
— Crime and Punishment. She taught the first 100 pages and then assigned the rest over break.