#3 The Art of Communication with Kathy Thomas

Kathy Thomas

 English teacher  

Paradise High School (CA)

Segment I – Background and Inspiration

 Tell your story. Where are you from and how long have you been teaching? What   classes have you taught? 2f00042
– Kathy went to Arizona State and was originally a business major but took a lot of language classes, especially French, and became a teacher of foreign languages for the first 12 years of her career.
Who has helped you in your journey to become a master teacher?
– Not one specific person… a lot of people put her under their wing. Her math colleagues taught her organization and served as voices of comfort.
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.
– Early in a career, while doing a lesson on telling time, only one student was paying attention. The clock that she had, made of card stock, hit the one student that was paying attention. But she took away, years later, not to take things personally. The reality is that not every student will share the same level of enthusiasm but now she has learned to step back and assess why students may not be engaged.
Why teach English and the language arts?
– Kathy believes it is the most important subject because it is all about communication through writing, speaking, reading, and listening. 
What is one thing that you love about the classroom?
–  The discussions that happen in the classroom. There is nothing more satisfying than engaging in a discussion with a teenager.  She draws out conversation though Socratic Seminars and turning over the power of the classroom to the students with structure so it is not just a discussion about feelings.

Segment II — Digging into the Teacher Bag of Goodies

What book do you recommend to a developing teacher?

 – Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys: Literacy in the Lives of Young Men. It addresses the male population in the classroom. The discovery was that boys were different in the way that they attacked reading. 

What is one thing a teacher can do outside the classroom that can pay off inside the classroom?
– Kathy joined her local writing project (connect with your local a National Writing Project). It really changed who she was in the classroom. 
Is there an internet resource that you can recommend which will help teachers grow professionally?
  NCTE. She is also a Quizlet addict. She also recently discovered Pixton, a cartoon maker that she uses for alternative assessment.
What can a teacher can do to make students better writers?
– She believes in discussion once again. If a student can talk about a topic and make sense of it, the next progression is to put those ideas on paper.
What novel or poem do you love to teach and why?


– The Great Gatsby. As Francine Prose said, it is just gorgeous writing. The story is so rich and complicated and beautiful. As far as non-fiction goes, she really enjoys teaching Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success.