Tag Archives: Kenan Fellowship

Vol.#32: Help Navigating the Road to ELA Common Core

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Image Credit: Pixabay User “PublicDomainPictures”

It was about a year ago this very week when I started my journey with four other Kenan Fellows at DPI. My Kenan Fellowship last year was an amazing opportunity; one of tremendous growth in my teaching practice.

The culmination of our work together and our intensive study of the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards [ELA CCSS] is a library of resources which has been created and compiled in order to help other ELA educators to transition their own instruction to the demands of the newly adopted ELA CCSS. Continue reading Vol.#32: Help Navigating the Road to ELA Common Core

Vol.#27: Something Old, Something New…

Saturday May 4th, I both celebrated the end of an amazing experience and attempted a new one. On Saturday night, I attended the Kenan Fellows “Catalysts for Change” reception and dinner that both celebrated the end of our 2013 class and welcomed the 2014 Fellows. It was not that long ago that I was just embarking on the amazing experience that those 49 educators are eagerly anticipating. Many asked what to expect. While every Kenan Fellow has an experience that is highly personal, as mentors and placements vary widely, there are certainly themes and common trends that evolve of you talk to Fellows that have completed the process. They have a different, more global perspective for their role in the classroom. They have new knowledge to bring back to their students. They have new confidence to emerge (or continue to evolve) as a teacher leader, and they have an eagerness for the next adventure. Continue reading Vol.#27: Something Old, Something New…

Vol.#13: Metamorphosis

met·a·mor·pho·sis

a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism

This past week marked the third and final Professional Development Institute for myself and the other 2013 Kenan Fellows. It will likely be the last time we see each other until the celebratory events planned at the end of the year when the Fellowship is completed. It was wonderful to see everyone, though it was far too brief. As always, I learned so much more from them than it feels I must ever give back. (I’m looking at you Karen and Vance.)

I don’t know if other Fellows have been experiencing some of the same seismic shifts at their schools that Continue reading Vol.#13: Metamorphosis

Vol.#6: Changing the Core

As a multi-track  year-round teacher, I’ve just completed the first week of school: a new administration, a new demanding schedule, a new PLT, a new batch of seventh graders, and many other new challenges. However, this group of students is wonderful, my new PLT is off to a great running start, and this new administration has expressed unwavering high standards for its staff. If your undergo a change in your surroundings, I think it’s safe to assume you’ll change as a result as you adapt.

So looking ahead to this school year, I realize this new context coupled with the unique and intense Kenan Fellows experience will be nothing shy of completely transformative for me. Continue reading Vol.#6: Changing the Core

Vol.#4: My Top Ten Tech Takeaways from NCCAT

I attended NCCAT in Cullowhee, NC this past week along with the other Kenan Fellows. While lots of experiences were built into our stay, the instructional focus was on educational technology.

It. Was. Amazing.

I am passionate about learning educational technology and integrating it into my classroom. Therefore, I was thrilled to be immersed into such a rich technology training environment over several days.  It was the most powerfully intensive technology training I’ve ever experienced. Continue reading Vol.#4: My Top Ten Tech Takeaways from NCCAT

Vol.#3: Paralysis By Analysis

Image Credit: girlsguideto.com

My work with my Kenan Fellowship started a collaborative chapter this past week. The four other ELA DPI Kenan Fellows and I came together to the NC Department of Instruction for the first time. We’d been using the NC DPI Self-Study Binders to delve into the common core independently, and had a very intensive nine-hour study of the common core Monday to kick-start our journey together.

I realize now there is so much in the Common Core that will have me fundamentally looking at my own instruction, and major instructional shifts will happen for all educators of literacy and English Language Arts: Continue reading Vol.#3: Paralysis By Analysis

Vol.#1: Saying Goodbye

This blog has been a long time in the making.

Granted, mostly in my head. Like most educators and moms of young children, I have plenty of important priorities to point to and say, “I’m too busy”. Despite this, ideas like the concept, the title, and images had been chiseling away at the back of my conscientiousness for months, even before creating a WordPress site in which they could be housed.

Hello. My name is Erica Speaks, and I am a perfectionist.

I think you should know that about me right off the bat. In fact, my husband looks at this blog endeavor dubiously. Not because he thinks I’m not a great writer, but that he knows I absolutely agonize over details, especially when I’m writing.

So, it looked like this blog was going to be an idea that I toyed with but never came to fruition. You know, like building a roadster from scratch or backpacking across Europe.

However, I came across the following quote:

“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”

~ Ivan Turgenev

and decided to jump in with both feet and hit “Publish”.

As with all new beginnings, I am saying, “Goodbye,” to several things.

Like all educators this time of year, I said, “Goodbye,” to a group of students. I try to take what I’ve learned each time and get ready to begin anew with fresh challenges and perspective. My year-round school’s calendar starts in July, and hopefully some of it will be blog-worthy.

Also, I have worked diligently over the past ten years “perfecting” lessons from my state’s Standard Course of Study that I will say, “Goodbye,” to in favor of the Common Core alignment coming this school year. I am very fortunate to have been granted a Kenan Fellowship with which I can start this new process. I am certain some of that will be blog-worthy.

The start of this blog also marks one other, “Goodbye.”  I had become very comfortable with my arrangement of having a colleague use some of my writings as guest posts on his own professional blog. Changes have me saying, “Goodbye,” to that safety net, as well.

So, as I anticipate the drive out of my comfort zone on many fronts, I take a long look in the rear view mirror at where I’ve been. I ponder a moment at how I’ve arrived here. It has not been perfect, and I recognize a difficult new stretch of road lies ahead in my journey.

But I’m ready to begin driving forward.