English Teachers Rock

On Friday I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Conference for the Utah Council of Teachers of English. Since I am still an English Teaching student it was my very first year. I got to go with one of my friends from a class that I took last year and it ended up being a blast!

The first keynote speaker was Alan Sitomer, a teacher and author. He gave a great session about how to help students build the skills and intellectual stamina that students need in order to be successful. 

The second session I went to was "Lit Lessons Your Students Will Literally Thank You For" which was given by Kasie Payne. Kasie is a teacher at Wasatch High School and I can tell that she really cares about her students. She gave us a lot of great examples of lessons that you can give your students that will help them have a desire to read and build empathy in their relationships with other people. I really enjoyed this one! I know that it is so true that good readers make better people, in fact, the best people to fall in love with.

Helping my students to discover a love for reading is one of the reasons that I want to be a teacher. I want to share my passion for books with young people!

The next session I went to was "Staying Fired Up to Avoid Burnout" which was given by Dr. Coombs and Dr. Crower, two BYU professors in the English Teaching Department as well as Joseph Widerhold, a teacher at Provo High School. I'm not an actual teacher yet so I can't necessarily say that I am burnt out from teaching. But I think a lot of what they talked about applied to me in school and the future that I'm looking at. A lot of their point was that we need to continue to be life-long learners, readers, and writers. The best writing teachers are those that write themselves. It gives us opportunity to keep doing what we love to do. One thing that I like a lot is the idea that "change is as good as a break." Sometimes we think that we need a break from school or work or life. But a lot of times a change is just as good. Then most of the session was talking about going to graduate school and how it can improve us as teachers and as people. I'm still not done with my undergraduate work. But I feel like I have a great desire to go to graduate school. 

The second keynote speaker was Sarah Brown Wessling Her session was titled "The 'Let-Go' that Gets More: Creating Cultures of Learning." Her session was really fun and she told us a lot about the importance of teaching to our students and creating unique and important learning experiences for them. Instead of being selfish and focusing on what we want to teach, we need to think about our students and what they need to learn. This helps us to construct fun, intellectually stimulating lessons that actually get them engaged in learning.

The last session of the day I attended was given by three teachers who are fairly early in their teaching careers: Taralyn Holmes, Jenny Dunn, and Kasey Hammer. Their session was called Grammar Time. It was more of an instruction of fun ways to teach grammar to students but they brought up a lot of ideas that I would not have thought of on my own. Such as how to teach grammar using reading and writing, especially focusing on how actual authors use grammar in their writing and helping the students recognize this and practice on their own.

Overall it was a great experience because I was able to see a lot of other students who hope to become teachers as well as great examples of teachers from throughout the state. It was a wonderful opportunity and I had a lot of fun. I definitely plan on going next year.


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