Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tuesday Teacher Feature : Andrea Fox

This week's Featured Teacher is West Fargo's Andrea Fox. Read her responses to our questions regarding reading, teaching, and connecting with others below!

Why do you read?

I read for pleasure and also to learn. When I’m lucky those two purposes intersect! Most often I read fiction just for fun, and non-fiction as part of work or education.

I am currently reading Edge of Eternity, part of Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy. I enjoy historical and realistic fiction for enjoyment. Good authors can weave stories that put you into peoples’ lives so that you forget about your own. I think when a writer can create a character that makes readers care about what happens to a person, that is successful writing. When you don’t want to put a book down and when
you’re sad for a book to end, the fiction has been a great story. I believe there is some element of truth in any story, fiction or fantasy, which enables human connection. That is what reading (and writing) is all about, connecting with other people.

I am reading Becoming a Learning School by Joellen Killion and Patricia Roy and A School Leader’s Guide to Standards-Based Grading by Heflebower, Hoegh, and Warrick. Both books have been
assigned to me as book studies that I am a part of. I find myself most reflective if I can listen and talk to other people as they relate to and make sense of non-fiction. Without this interaction, I do not focus as well on the reading. I keep this in mind as I talk to students about reading and encourage them to read.

When I was in the English classroom, it was easier to talk to kids about reading. Through journaling students could write about what they were reading, so I could connect with them even after they had finished a book. Sharing my own reading habits is a great way to connect with students. I have a sign outside my office door that says what I’m currently reading. That way students can ask me about books, or they can simply look up a title if they find it interesting. I think this encourages students to approach teachers about literacy. Now that I am in a technology role, I seek out ways of talking to students about literacy. Often I encourage students just by seeing what book they have in hand. This is easy for me because I love to read and talk about reading, and I think it’s important to share this with kids. I enjoy having conversations about books and characters with students. In my school we currently have a reading initiative which requires students to always have a book, and teachers are encouraged to share what they are reading with students. This shows students that reading happens in all areas, and I hope that it encourages students to read different genres and about different topics. This encouragement is so important especially for students who have not had opportunities of adults reading to them at home.

Who encouraged you to be a teacher?

My family encouraged me to be a teacher. My parents are big readers and have always read to my brother and me. We talked about college as though it was a given instead of a dream. For me it wasn’t a question or whether I would be a teacher but rather what I would teach. This is true of my extended family as well. 
My grandparents were educators, and we often had discussions of education around the dinner table. My maternal grandmother was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in western North Dakota. She grew up teaching her eight younger brothers and sisters, later teaching her own children. And, she was of course one of my first teachers as well. My paternal grandfather was an administrator, principal to superintendent. He certainly influenced me from a professional standpoint with our discussions on scope and sequence of curriculum and teacher training. But more importantly, I remember him as my biggest champion when it came to writing; probably because he was an avid writer himself. From him I learned the beauty of self-discovery and learning through writing. Writing can be such a personal experience and a rewarding one that we should share with our students. We learn about ourselves and each other through writing and reading of our stories.

Know someone who would make a great Featured Teacher? 
Leave a comment or email us at redrivervalleywritingproject [at] gmail [dot] com!