If you have somehow found your way to this blog, you’ve managed to find the very beginning of a project created by a public high school teacher in Columbia, South Carolina (I’m that teacher, by the way).
(Just a smidge of a brag picture. I happen to the Model United Nations Advisor with my partner-in-crime, also pictured above. We won a regional conference last year. I’m the striped sweater.)
I honestly have never considered myself to be a blogger, so I wanted to spend my first post introducing myself and explaining why I would even consider my thoughts to be important enough to publicly publish (and hopefully to be read by others).
I started my teaching journey as a naive, bright-eyed sixth-grade teacher at a middle school in an area that could best be described as “ruraly suburban.” Many of my days can be summed up with this .gif:
This rolling minion actually brings back a flash of memories: children crawling around on the floor, eating cheese with their toes (it’s true, I swear), throwing up in their mouths. Of course, these are stories for another time and another format. I could write about my year teaching in a middle school, but instead, I will just say that I quickly realized I no longer wanted to teach sixth grade and transferred to a high school, where I have taught ever since.
For some unknown reason, the administration at my school trusted me enough as a new hire and a new teacher to give me two sophomore classes in the academic magnet and two sophomore classes considered “honors.” The remaining two were freshman classes. The freshman classes, you may realize, have no “honors” or “magnet” title attached to them—one of these classes was labeled as “college prep,” and the other was labeled as “regular.” The differences between these two class designations are slight: the classes labeled as regular tended to have more behavior issues, bigger class sizes, and more habitual student truancy. This is what it meant to be “regular.” Both college prep and regular sections had varying reading levels: usually anywhere from sixth to eighth grade, with outliers as low as third grade.
These ninth-grade classes sent me for a loop, and I’ll be very honest: I was not the teacher those students needed or deserved. I was the best teacher I could have been at the time, but when I think about the standards I have for my students, nothing that happened in that class looked even close to what school should be for those kids. On the other hand, teaching the tenth-grade classes looked a little something like this:
(Not an actual photo from my class)
While I was discussing with my sophomores whether or not humans are inherently good while reading Lord of the Flies, I considered it a good day if no one got kicked out of my freshman classes. I considered it a good day if we were able to read a short story together. Instead of Dead Poets Society, it was a little more like this classic meme:
These were not equitable learning experiences.
Clearly, whatever existed in their lives before they found themselves sitting in my room—things I (and they) could not control, like their prior educational experiences, socioeconomic status, and family situations—was a major contributing factor. This was a glaring systematic problem, and it was glaring right at me.
It is for this reason that I realized that, while there is much I can do in the classroom to impact the lives of my students, much needs to be done on a macro level; I don’t have a platform at the macro level, but I do have a school that I love, and I figured I could start there.
During my second year at the school, I joined a PLC. I know, I know. The word certainly triggers certain images. I’m sure this is an accurate representation of the general feelings regarding PLCs:
And I get it. But I actually believe that the PLCs at my school have given teachers the agency to really make some good changes that will benefit the students in our school. Through my PLC, I was given the platform to research and propose changes for the school community in which I was already invested. It’s where I became passionate about supporting our classroom practices with intentional research and helping other teachers at my school do the same.
Believe it or not, that is the short version, with some fast forwarding, of why I decided to start this blog. In this world that, as of late, feels as though it is post-truth, where nothing is objective and things are made up along and along, this is my stand against that. In this blog, I will commit to presenting my research on various educational topics, as well as my attempt to implement those research-based practices into my classroom.
The name of the blog, Researching in Resistance, is a reference to Star Wars. This is how I see education and my role as an educator: a resistance. A resistance to the decisions made each day by our politicians with no educational experience. A resistance to the high-stakes tests that force teachers to choose between good test scores and job security and authentic learning. A resistance to the popularized belief that things like art and literature—things that have historically been believed to be the very things that make us human and connect us with one another—are just nonessential expenditures that can be slashed for budgetary purposes. Facts and truth are my resistance and I will be writing them here for you (fellow teachers and my mom, most likely) to read. I also hope to educate others about what it is truly like to be in education; to be highly qualified (I’ve done a lot of growing since those two freshman classes) and yet perceived by the world as inept due to the rhetoric surrounding the profession.
If you have read this entire thing, for whatever reason, thank you.