Year 13

The following is a guest blog post written by Janet Lee Stinson.

Janet Lee is currently a high school English teacher in Barrie, Ontario. I first met her years ago when we were both working on a new literacy resource for grades 7 and 8. I remember thinking that Janet Lee had energy and passion to spare – and that she knew more about media literacy than I could hope to learn in a decade.

Nothing much has changed in recent years except that accomplished writer, facilitator, and good friend have been added to my list of the qualities I’ve noticed in Janet Lee.

Janet Lee has graciously agreed to share her year-end reflections on my site. I hope you enjoy!

This year, I wanted everything to be on purpose. I even announced it on the first day with my arms raised up, “This year everything will be on purpose. From my clothing, to the themes, to the music, to the learning. Everything will be on purpose.” I believed it. And sure enough, each new day brought unexpected happenings leaving my purposeful intentions open to challenge.

I played music loudly to get them there on time. It worked but I never expected Tobias to jump on top of his desk dancing and singing along.

After inviting students to always ask for help, a grade 9 boy in a monkey-eared sock hat stayed in his chair after the bell. “She dumped me using this…what should I do?” he cried, slamming his hand down revealing his Iphone. It’s 2 L8! I’m changing my status to single! All I could think was, She broke up w/u by txt during my class? OMG!

I brought my rainbow teacher chair for read alouds. I didn’t expect Mitchell to jump up into it refusing to move. He looked at me through Beiber bangs saying, “I’ll get out of this chair…because I am choosing to-not because you are counting to three!”

I taught each course using big ideas and layered texts. The brilliant one with the fancy red hat surprised me with a Christmas gift layered in 3 wrapping papers. “See what I’ve done, Miss? I layered the text around a big idea.”

I shared my lunch with a grade 11 boy while he learned to read, retrieved the homeless one from the park, and cried at my desk remembering why I came back to the classroom.

I gave up my rainbow chair to the teachers among them.

I felt that I failed while at the same time I knew I was succeeding.

All of these unexpected things happened in year 13.

And yes, it was all on purpose.

Until next time,

Janet Lee

Don’t forget to check out Janet Lee’s fantastic education blog!

Question: What do you do “on purpose” in your classroom?

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