Thanks International Literacy Association!

Hello!  I'm very honored to be the International Literacy Association's Member of the Month. When I got the email, I thought maybe they had the wrong person!

I had just a few days to answer the interview questions.  I wanted to share two of my favorite questions and answers here:

"What do you consider to be your proudest career moment?"
For many of us, our proudest career moments happen when our students succeed.  After all, we got into this profession to impact learners.  Triumphs with particular students tend to stand out.  One kindergarten year, I had a student who struggled, struggled, and struggled to learn to read and write even at the most emergent levels.  Others in the class were charging forward, using all that hard-earned alphabet-knowledge as REAL readers and REAL writers.  Meanwhile, this student was foundering. I had assessed, used all my tricks, completed several interventions, and involved the parents, with no progress.  Something was truly holding this little guy back and, even with many years of teaching under my belt, I couldn’t figure out what it was.  Even though he was only a kindergartner, I knew something was blocking his success and it wasn’t just a matter of his tender age.  Luckily, with the help of our school’s speech pathologist, we were able to find a pathway to reach him.  He began to grow...and by the end of the year, he was a success story.  But, his tale doesn’t end there.  This student is now twenty and, to this day, keeps in touch with me.  His family recently thanked me for recognizing his difficulty early on and doing something about it.  Best of all, this young man loves to write.  He writes poetry and short stories.  He’s using writing to reflect on his place in the world.  And, he shares his compositions with me and with others on the internet, hoping to one day be published.  Write on!

"What advice would you give a new teacher that either you received or wish you had?"
My best advice is to strive to make learning purposeful and joyful.  When students see a real purpose for their hard work, they love to work hard at learning.  Help them feel important.  Show them they have power.  When you teach something think, what might I have students do with this growing knowledge?  How might they share what they’re learning beyond our classroom walls?  How can our learning benefit or impact others?   Ask the students themselves for ideas.  Find a real purpose, encourage them to work for it, and you will enjoy joyful learning. 

Yes, everyone has their ‘bad days’ and teaching is a real challenge; sometimes it feels we run and run but can’t keep up.  Here’s a tip that will help keep things in perspective.  Post a class picture of your own child or a cherished niece or nephew right next to your computer.  When the going gets tough, look at that picture.  See that precious child standing among his classmates and think, “What kind of a teacher do I want for him?  What kind of a classroom do I want him to be a part of every day?”  Then make that your classroom.  Make your decisions based on what that teacher would do.  Be that teacher because every single one of your students is just that precious.


  1. Congratulations!!! I saw you at a conference a few years ago in Hershey, PA, and loved every minute of it. I still use tons of your ideas everyday!

    Thanks for being an inspiration.

  2. Wow! Thanks so very much! I'm glad to hear of the lasting impact.
    I really appreciate you taking the time to comment!
    Happy teaching, Amy!


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