Don't Panic: I'm a Teacher

Navigating the Galaxies of 21st Century Learning



The “Writing Autobiography”: A New Tradition?

Over the next week or so of classes, I’ll be asking my students to write their “Writing Autobiography.” I used to ask them to write me their mini autobiographies and, while I loved reading them, it now feels intrusive to ask my students to tell me their life stories right off the bat. I want to build some trust first. Let’s face it: Writing can be brutal.  Everyone has gotten negative feedback about their writing, and that can REALLY damage a person’s willingness to give it another shot. On the other hand, we also get praise from audiences who like our writing.

I want my kids to write about the good, the bad,  and to start thinking about possibilities.

Continue reading “The “Writing Autobiography”: A New Tradition?”


Are Trigger Warnings Necessary?

NG Trigger Warning Quote
Trigger Warning is available for purchase now!

A new Gaiman book is always cause for celebration. He is one of the few authors I will pre-order, eagerly anticipating the day the hardback copy lands in my hands. I would never consider buying an e-book version, unless it was to have an emergency copy to read when I’m in one of those horrible medical or oil change waiting rooms with nothing but mind-numbing magazine fare to read and no cell reception.

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Trigger Warning is worth the read if only for the introduction, in which Gaiman discusses the merit of the trigger warning concept. Does the very existence of the trigger warning mean that we as a society are overprotective? Can readers not make decisions on their own? Continue reading “Are Trigger Warnings Necessary?”

The “Don’t Panic” Philosophy of Teaching

My new students file in, not sure of why they’re in my class. It’s not English: it’s an “elective,” but they’re not allowed to drop it. Most of them found me on their schedule without any explanation from anyone (Yay for unpleasant surprises!). They might have heard that my class is for people who can’t read. They might have heard that my class is easy. In any case, there’s confusion and, often, there is anger masking embarrassment. For high schoolers, being in a reading class can be a badge of shame: their eyes dart around the room, looking for a way out.

One of the things they will see as they desperately try to figure out what they’re doing here is an 8×11.5 bright yellow page that says, simply, “Don’t Panic.” Continue reading “The “Don’t Panic” Philosophy of Teaching”

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