Dual Credit English Teacher
Department of English
Plainfield High School-Central Campus
24120 W. Fort Beggs Drive
Plainfield, IL 46375
[Updated: June 2018]
Memorizing something is not enough. One must be able to evaluate, connect, and communicate information. The ability to exercise critical thought is not something that simply “happens.” It is an ongoing process that demands practice and effort. Within my classroom, I emphasize that a desire for someone to simply tell someone else the “right answer” can be dangerous. If one surrenders one’s mind to simply be interested in being told an answer, the individual becomes susceptible to allowing others control of their thoughts and views. This leads to allowing ideology to govern choices rather than reason and understanding. I foster student’s ability to critically read and understand information through the continual, rewarding work of the close-reading of complex texts. These texts may range from Op-Eds and academic journals to pieces of poetry and longer novels. The value of these texts is made evident through the language that permeates the aether of the learning environment. This focus on the analysis and appreciation of the power of language is something I continually seek to incorporate into all student learning opportunities.
Beyond my underlying belief in the value of analytical thought and the fostering of an appreciation for language, I also recognize one of the tangible forms of thought as holding a special place in the educational process—writing. The teaching of writing is central to my classroom because it requires the exercise of critical thinking and literacy skills. This practice holds additional significance within a technological society because the forms through which students create meaning continually vary. To this end, I incorporate the student creation of multi-modal texts as often as possible. A particularly rewarding aspect of teaching is the opportunity to work with diverse groups of students from a variety of backgrounds and life-experiences. Furthermore, the way in which a student encounters and engages in the act of writing is often as varied as the students themselves. In light of this diversity, I fashion assignments that require students to engage with writing, and often technology, in ways that encourage active reflection and awareness of audience. One such example of this type of student assignment is a digital literacy narrative where I ask students to not simply write about their digital literacy experiences but also to write about how their background and life experience has influenced the development of their literacies. This assignment serves as a bridge of sorts between the academic and nonacademic worlds for students and challenges them to consider not just the importance of learning and communication in their own lives, but also the way in which their experiences are connected to others in society.
Learning is something that is not divided up into class periods or blocks. It is the on-going process of curiosity and development that, when done well, requires the steady hand of a teacher acting as guide. Whether it be through active engagement with a piece of literature or the development of an argumentative piece of writing, my mission is to help students clearly and articulately vocalize their ideas about the world around them and their place within it.