November 17

End of Fall Update


One of our recent attendance questions at the start of class asked students about their favorite holiday and why. Although Father’s Day has become my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving is a close second. While there is the historical nature and mythology of Thanksgiving, I appreciate the family traditions, the concept of celebrating gratitude, and, of course, the food! One of the things for which I’ll profess my gratitude at the Thanksgiving table this year is teaching all of your children. As we breeze through the final fall holidays and into winter, I wanted to share a few updates on your child’s English class.


English 10 Updates:

The Power Of Communication Unit came to a conclusion with some valuable lessons, assessments, and self reflections. After reading Animal Farm, students constructed paragraphs that followed a strict 8 sentence structure and utilized evidence properly to support a strong argument in response to a writing prompt. The results were impressive and laid a strong foundation for future writing in our class.


In addition to their writing, students also culminated our unit with a characterization art project which tasked students with taking four characters from the novel and selecting shapes, colors, sizes, and location to create a piece of art representing Animal Farm. All choices were deliberate and showcased student understanding of characterization, symbolism, and conflicts in Animal Farm. Creativity shined through with this assignment, whether it was ideas such as one student casting Old Major as a tree from which all the other characters in the book grew or others making Old Major a picture frame through which all the other characters and their conflicts are viewed. 


At this point we are two weeks into Q2 and we are honing our nonfiction reading skills with strategies such as the nonfiction signposts. This is proving useful since we are currently reading Killers Of The Flower Moon by David Grann , as part of our unit about the Power of Culture. If the name of the book sounds familiar, you might have noticed that it is currently in movie theaters (directed by Martin Scorcese and starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Robert Deniro) and it will soon be streaming on Apple +. The book, while markedly different from the film, is a fascinating piece of reporting on one of the FBI’s most notorious cases into the murders of countless members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma during the 1920’s. One student already remarked to me after class that he enjoys it “soooo much” more than Animal Farm, which I would assume is because it is a gripping who-dunnit mystery. 


Honors English 10 Updates: 

Our first unit of the year, anchored by the novel Lord Of The Flies by William Golding, culminated with group debates and a unit essay. The group debates were invigorating! In fact, in two separate classes I firmly believe I saw the best debates I have seen in all my years of teaching Lord Of The Flies. Student groups worked well in preparing cases that addressed an assigned position on the following questions: 1. Which character represents the boys best chance of rescue and survival?Jack OR Piggy. 2. What is the biggest threat the tribe faces? Lack of food, water, and shelter OR immaturity, infighting, and fear. 3. Which symbol is most significant to the plot, conflict, and themes in LOTF? Pigs OR Fire. Not only did students cite ample evidence from Lord Of The Flies, but some groups pulled in research on malnutrition and dehydration, child psychology and mental development, and agricultural symbols. If you have a moment, ask your student about the debates, their group’s position, and their individual role.

Our Q2 unit has seen us delving into Macbeth, William Shakespeare’s iconic play of ambition, fate, and the supernatural. We first learned context about Shakespeare, which included students reading his renowned Sonnet 130 (“My mistress eyes are nothing like the sun…”) and writing a response sonnet as if they were the subject of Shakespeare’s original poem. Needless to say, the responses were rather spirited and quite hilarious. This would be another assignment that presents a great opportunity to ask your student about their learning in our class.

September 5

Welcome From Your Child’s English Teacher!

Welcome and About Me

Hello and welcome from your child’s English teacher. For those of you in attendance at Back To School Night last week some of what I’m about to share will be a refresher. Speaking of Back To School Night, thank you for the great attendance!

My name is Matt Kaberline and this school year is my 19th year in education and 5th year at Freedom High School. In addition to teaching English at Freedom, I have also served as a teacher, college counselor, and coach at private high schools in DC and Maryland. Prior to working in secondary schools, I was a college admission officer. Those experiences have been very helpful when discussing college preparation and college application essays with high school students.

My own educational journey led me to earn an undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech and a masters degree from Emerson College. I am a parent to two and a half year old twin boys, which means I don’t have as much free time for reading as I’d like but when I do have that time I often enjoy reading poetry and nonfiction books in the vein of Malcolm Gladwell, Atul Gawande, and James Clear.

One of my personal mottos (“Be who you are and be that well” – St. Francis de Sales) influences the classroom community I attempt to build with my students. It is a tremendous responsibility and honor to educate young people. I’m excited to help your child become the best reader, writer, thinker, collaborator, and community member that they can be this year!


Marking Period 1 Units and Lessons

In English 10 and English 10 Honors, students have begun the year with activities designed to create community, get to know each other, and review fundamental concepts and skills necessary to achieve success in English class and life beyond high school. Right about now you might be asking yourself, what are some of these fundamental concepts? Well, we’ve spent some class time on effective strategies for evaluating directions, working in groups, communicating with others, and reading different types of texts (fiction, non fiction, poetry). After completing the i-Ready reading assessment and a writing diagnostic assessment this week, we will turn our attention to our Marking Period 1 Units in both English 10 and English 10 Honors.

The Power of Communication is the first unit of the year in English 10. This unit includes George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm as the anchor text and it attempts to answer the essential question: why do words matter? In addition to delving into Animal Farm, we will read a variety of poems, speeches, essays, and stories that help us best understand the impact of words, communication, and literature in our everyday lives.

What is Human Nature and What Shapes it is the first unit of the year in English 10 Honors. With William Golding’s Lord Of The Flies as the anchor text, this unit introduces students to some quintessential philosophical ideas about human nature and examines some of humanity’s most enduring and challenging questions. In addition to the aforementioned novel, additional texts will include poems, short stories, essays, and the philosophy of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. We have also taken steps to round out our unit with texts that reflection the value of kindness and trust as essential elements of the human experience.



My goal is to produce a blog post like this at the beginning of each quarter to recap what we have just covered and to preview what is coming up in the marking period ahead. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. Email is the best way to reach me and I’m always glad to schedule a meeting if that would be helpful.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m excited to help your child become the best reader, writer, thinker, collaborator, and community member that they can be this year!


June 9

End of Year Reflections – English 10 and Honors English 10

We’ve reached the end of the 2022-23 school year, and what a year it has been. From a teacher’s perspective, it feels like this strange sentiment, a weird amalgam of awe, exhaustion, and reflection can be shared when the calendar flips to June every year. Just as school years are cyclical, the end of the year has its own interesting feel. We take posters off of classroom walls, grade culminating assignments, and say our final goodbyes to our students. Soon, we’ll aim to catch our collective breath before it all starts again in a few short months.

Although a bout with Strep Throat meant that I wasn’t able to say one final goodbye to all of my classes this year, I’m grateful for the opportunity and responsibility of educating your children this past school year.

If you’ll indulge me, I want to encourage you to engage in the final lesson that I shared with some of your children this past week. In our final lesson of the year, we read The Summer Day by Mary Oliver. It is a poem that includes deep worldly questions, simple observations from a day spent in nature, and a culminating invocation to maximize the time and lives we have. I asked students to write a response to the stirring question Oliver asks in the final two lines of the poem: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” While students didn’t have to share their responses, we discussed the importance and value of reflection, why this time of year is a natural point for reflection, and how perspective can change and shape over time. So, with that, I ask you to consider Mary Oliver’s plea, and ask yourself what is it I plan to do with my one wild and precious life?

English 10 Updates:

The final marking period began with students completing their research papers. The process was long and arduous, but it was an educational and rewarding process. End of the year student surveys revealed as much. In addition to our requisite quarterly grammar and vocabulary units, students completed a Short Story Clubs Unit. Students selected their own small groups and these groups served as Educational Consulting Firms hired by LCPS to assess which short stories should be taught and not taught in future English 10 classes. The groups were required to deliver a presentation to the class detailing the two stories they read and which one they recommended based upon entertainment value and VDOE Standards of Learning for 10th Grade English. The extensive annotations for plot, characterization, literary elements, and theme shined through in the group presentations. All students were also tasked with writing a persuasive business letter to Mrs. Short, Freedom’s English Department Chair, sharing their experiences with the two short stories they read and why they recommended one story be taught over the other story in future classes. Students reported enjoying this unit because it gave them agency over curriculum and helped them develop real world communication skills.

Honors English 10 Updates:

The final marking period in Honors English 10 was all about George Orwell’s iconic novel 1984. From the highly anticipated frenzy of the week-long 1984 Simulation to the meticulous research and analysis of the 1984 Panel Presentation Project, students immersed themselves in Orwell’s fictional world of Oceania and walked in the footsteps of the novel’s main character, Winston Smith. 1984 remains a powerful, topical, and disturbing masterpiece. While reading about and discussing totalitarianism and the manipulation of language can not be classified as “fun,” students wholeheartedly embraced the importance of the topic. Their ability to forge connections between Oceania’s laws and norms with current laws and practices in Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and other nations was inspiring to witness. One student summarized his learning so eloquently in his reflection paper and revealed a realization that many of his peers shared: “Freedom is an essential part of human existence. From the freedom of speech to the freedom of thought, the ability to express oneself without restraint forms the basis of any functional democracy. Societies that suppress individual voices, constantly surveil citizens, and prevent collaboration and creativity, such as the simulation I experienced, Oceania in 1984, and China are examples of freedom actively being taken away from individuals. Through this simulation, I have learned that freedom is a nuanced concept deeply rooted in human history. The development of modern society hinges on its freedom. After all, freedom is not to be taken for granted, but a right that must be chased relentlessly.”

February 7

Mid Year Updates – English 10 and English 10 Honors

Although we are past the midway point of the academic year it doesn’t necessarily feel like it. Normally by this time on the calendar we are wrestling with adjusting our schedules to accommodate for ample snow days, but this week we’ll have 60 degree temperatures in Loudoun County! One of the beautiful aspects of this unseasonably warm winter weather is that we are able to engage in more learning activities. Let’s learn a little more about those activities in English 10 and English 10 Honors…



English 10 Updates:

Our Quarter 2 Unit was called The Power Of Culture. This comprehensive unit included a novel study, poetry, and nonfiction articles. Students continued to hone our nonfiction reading skills, which is a point of emphasis in English 10 this year, with daily bellringer reading comprehension assignments. Our novel study, Killers Of The Flower Moon by David Grann, was well received by students and they seem to be excited about the Martin Scorcese-directed film version (starring Leonardo Dicaprio) which will debut on Apple TV later this year. The Unit Essay provided students a unique prewriting strategy called hexagonal thinking, which tasked students with connecting hexagons with key concepts, characters, and events to craft a detailed thesis statement. Our unit culminated with the multimodal presentation that is part of the VDOE Standards of Learning for English 10. Students researched themselves and aspects of their own cultures then delivered presentations on them to the class.  Like an iceberg, we all have aspects of our culture that are above the surface and below the surface. These student presentations have been fascinating, insightful, and many of them have made me quite hungry with all the pictures and explanations of delicious foods!

As we begin Quarter 3, students will start a mini unit on the concepts of ambition and gender. Our texts will include a few targeted scene studies of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, poems, and short stories. This will be a mini unit because later in the quarter we will turn our attention to students researching and beginning to write their English 10 Research Paper. Many students in the past have commented that the research paper was the assignment that they felt the most pride in completing successfully. Students will choose their research topic and spend most of Q3 and part of Q4 constructing. I’m sure I’ll have more updates to report in my next blog post on the research paper.


Honors English 10 Updates: 

Our Quarter 2 Unit was anchored by Macbeth, William Shakespeare’s iconic play of ambition, fate, gender roles, and the supernatural. In addition to reading quizzes and scene analysis writing assignments, students completed a group synthesis presentation at the end of the quarter. It was an in-depth exploration of a topic, such as the use of language or gender roles, to examine if the themes from Macbeth are still relevant in Contemporary America. Ultimately, most groups found Macbeth still relevant today and offered ample evidence, such as blind ambition in the sports doping scandals of Lance Armstrong and Mark McGwire or the impact of guilt in a range of people including doctors who fail to save patients and military veterans returning from combat. While many students still report that Shakespearean language is an unwieldy challenge, they were deeply interested in the concepts and themes woven throughout Macbeth

We have begun our Q3 Unit with a deep dive into culture. Not only did we define culture and create class lists of all elements of culture that we could think of, but our classes have engaged in learning about Native American culture. Our anchor text this quarter, Killers Of The Flower Moon by David Grann, is a text of narrative nonfiction that describes the Reign of Terror in the early 1900’s in Osage County, Oklahoma, which saw countless Osage Nation members murdered. Without giving too much away, this true crime story presents corruption, the search for truth and justice, and the long-standing impacts of greed and acculturation. The Martin Scorcese-directed film version (starring Leonardo Dicaprio) which will debut on Apple TV later this year. In addition to keeping a dialectical journal and plot and central figure annotations, students will complete reading quizzes and a creative deconstruction of the book later in the quarter. Reading a nonfiction text is offering a wonderful opportunity to teach about cornerstones of rhetoric, including ethos, pathos, and logos. We’ll be watching a rather impressive rhetorician, Mr. Rogers (yes, the famed red sweater-wearing children’s TV host), during his speeches to congress to secure funding to learn how to appeal to audiences through credibility, emotion, and logic. I’m excited about that lesson, possibly because my little children are big fans of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood these days so I am often humming songs Mr. Rogers made famous!

November 4

End of Q1 and Start of Q2 Update

As I watch the leaves tumble down from the trees, covering sidewalks, yards, and roads with a tapestry of vibrant gold, red, and orange, I’m reminded of transitions. Like the leaves, we are in a state of transition. The jitters of a new school year are gone and the mid year malaise that spurs a consistent hope of snow days is not yet here. What does this mean to an English teacher? Hopefully, it means our classes are settling into a learning groove. Students are comfortable with class routines and have experienced some ups and downs in class. They have seen what they are capable of achieving and they know what they’d like to improve as the year progresses. That’s where we stand right now…No tricks, just treats with new units and lessons on the horizon.

English 10 Updates:

The Power Of Communication Unit came to a conclusion with some valuable lessons, assessments, and self reflections. After reading Dr. King’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail and practicing identifying nonfiction signposts, students then read Shirley Chisholm’s Speech For The Equal Rights Amendment as part of their summative assessment. It was a challenging speech for the students to comprehend, but they used their nonfiction signposts to make meaning of the speech and understand the need for change in regard to policies and attitudes on gender equality when Chisholm wrote her speech in 1970. 

In addition to their practice with nonfiction, students also read a graphic novel version of Animal Farm. Their fiction study for this unit culminated with a characterization art project which tasked students with taking four characters from the novel and selecting shapes, colors, sizes, and location on the page. All choices were deliberate and showcased student understanding of characterization, symbolism, and conflicts in Animal Farm. The results have been impressive! 

Finally, our quarter concluded with a written moment of self reflection as students wrote a paragraph addressing the prompt “What effect does communication have on your daily life?” If you have a moment, ask your student about this question and the answer that they crafted in response to the prompt. As we look ahead to Q2, we plan to continue to hone our nonfiction reading skills. We will also turn our attention to Killers Of The Flower Moon by David Grann , as part of a unit about the Power of Culture. 

Honors English 10 Updates: 

The Sculpting Reality Unit, anchored by the novel Lord Of The Flies by William Golding, culminated with group debates and a unit essay. The group debates were excellent! Student groups worked well in preparing cases that addressed an assigned position on the following questions: 1. Which character represents the boys best chance of rescue and survival? Ralph, Jack, or Piggy. 2. What is the biggest threat the tribe faces? Lack of food and water, infighting and immaturity, or lack of shelter and fear of the beast. Not only did students cite ample evidence from Lord Of The Flies, but some groups pulled in research on desert island survival, malnutrition and dehydration, wild berries and foods, and child psychology. If you have a moment, ask your student about the debates, their group’s position, and their individual role.

For the unit essay, students were tasked with using a new essay format: an umbrella thesis. After years of using three pronged thesis statements in five paragraph essays, it was a little disorienting for students to write a thesis that was different. Like an umbrella covering a large area from rain, the thesis statements on the unit essay showcased complex arguments free from a rigid format. This is a writing format and skill set that students will use as they progress to AP, DE, and college English classes. 

Our next unit will see us delving into Macbeth, William Shakespeare’s iconic play of ambition, fate, and the supernatural. 

October 3

Mid Q1 Update – 2022

There is a crispness in the air as we move into the month of October and reach the midpoint of the first marking period of the school year. The first marking period is always an interesting dance with lots of intricate maneuvering, and that doesn’t include all the required fire drills and the Homecoming Spirit Week. Teachers want to get to know their students and work with them to build a strong learning community, but those objectives are often balanced with required assessments designed to gauge student skills. The beginning of the year is when we establish classroom routines and practices, but at the same time us teachers want students to enjoy our routines and internalize our practices. Eventually we ease into our first academic unit and it becomes a wild sprint towards Halloween and the end of the first marking period. Such is the case in my English 10 and Honors English 10 classes this year.

English 10 Updates

We sharpened our skills as readers with lessons on how to read poetry and fiction. These lessons included checklists for pre-reading, during reading, and post-reading that students will be encouraged to use all year in our class. The texts in our Power of Communication Unit have included poetry (I Am Offering You This Poem by Jimmy Santiago Baca), short stories (She Unnames Them by Ursula K Le Guin), and novels (Animal Farm by George Orwell). This week we will also introduce nonfiction with Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail. Ultimately, one of the objectives of this unit is to equip students with an understanding of the power of communication in all its forms and how to harness this power in a meaningful and just manner. In addition to the learning activities in our unit, students have immersed themselves in grammar with a recent unit on commas. Upcoming assessments will be focused on Letter From A Birmingham Jail, Animal Farm, and a group project that tasks students with crafting their own campaign for an issue of importance to them and using words to advocate for positive change.

Honors English 10 Updates

We hit the ground running in Honors English 10 with an early Vocabulary Mini Unit and then we transitioned into our Sculpting Reality Unit, which focuses heavily upon the role that reason and emotion play in our lives and what happens when there is an imbalance between these qualities. Our texts for this unit have included nonfiction essays (On 9/11 by David Foster Wallace), poetry (Facing It and Thanks by Yusef Komunyakaa), philosophy (Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes), and a novel (Lord Of The Flies by William Golding). As we dig into the complexities of Lord Of The Flies, students are engaged in daily jigsaw discussions where they are responsible for becoming experts on one aspect of the text for a specific chapter. They then share this knowledge with a small peer group, but they also reap the benefits of their peers sharing their knowledge for their own expert topic. It is an interactive way to work with many classmates on making meaning of the text and it often stimulates interesting class discussions. Upcoming assessments include reading comprehension quizzes, a group debate, and a unit essay, all of which are on Lord Of The Flies.

It will be a hectic close to the quarter in English 10 and Honors English 10, but I’m excited to see how our students showcase their knowledge during the month of October. We have some fun learning ahead of us this month!

August 28

Welcome to the 2022-2023 school year!

It’s hot and humid outside and the leaves haven’t begun to fall just yet, but that means it’s time to start the 2022-23 school year. My schedule this year includes English 10 and Honors English 10. This is a particularly special year for me because I’m returning to the classroom after spending the last year at home caring for my twin baby boys.

All of our English classes began the school year with some community building activities and an introduction to the routines and resources that will be a part of our class. We also started by discussing the power of words and some of the bizarre oddities of the English language. For example, have you ever considered the words driveway and parkway…shouldn’t they be reversed?

After some testing to establish reading and writing baselines, English 10 will be launching a unit called The Power of Communication. Our anchor text for the unit is a graphic novel version of Animal Farm by George Orwell. We’ll also have some interesting poems, short stories, and essays to read that address this essential question: why do words matter? The primary assignment for this unit will task students with crafting their own campaign for an issue of importance to them and using words to advocate for positive change. In addition to the learning activities associated with our unit, students will complete vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation lessons.

Honors English 10 will also conduct reading and writing baseline testing, then we will tackle a unit called Sculpting Reality. The anchor text for this unit is the William Golding classic Lord Of The Flies. Students will use this essential question as guide through our unit: how do reason and emotion help us understand the world? In addition to poetry and short stories, students will read essays and speeches that relate to the unit’s essential question. Ultimately, Honors English 10 students will write analytically about these texts, especially Lord Of The Flies. They will also have a chance to consider how the story would be different as they debate which character would make the tribe’s best leader.

Parents and Guardians, if you’re looking to connect with your child about our English class and you want more than a “It’s okay” or “It’s good” answer to your questions then feel free to ask these questions below about the start of our school year:

  • ALL CLASSES – What did you include in the hexagon identity that you made in class?
  • ALL CLASSES – I heard you’ve read some poetry in class, which poem did you like best? Why?
  • ENGLISH 10 – So one of your unit’s EQs is why do words matter, which seems like an important question. What are some of the answers to this question that you’ve uncovered in class?
  • HONORS ENGLISH 10 – So one of your unit’s EQs is how do reason and emotion help us understand the world, which sounds really interesting. What answers to this question have you uncovered?
March 7

Mr. Kaberline’s English Class Website

Welcome! I hope that you find this page to be a useful resource throughout our class. Come back for updates about learning activities and topics relating to English and Language Arts.

What is my educational philosophy?

I believe there are five essential traits for teachers to embrace to create positive learning experiences and relationships in their classrooms: love of subject, love of learning, flexibility, vision and value, and purpose. In addition to defining these traits based upon my study of education and my experiences, I will offer examples of how I use these traits to become the best teacher I can be, or what Haim Ginott refers to as “the decisive element in the classroom.”

Love of Subject:“I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes, / We convince by our presence.” –Walt Whitman

To teach a subject well a teacher must love the subject. It’s not a groundbreaking statement, but much is lost by brushing past this simple idea. I teach English, not because it comes easily to me—it doesn’t—but because it pushes, surprises, and rewards me. When I was earning my M.F.A. degree in creative writing, I devoted three years to writing, reading, and teaching. During this time, I encountered Walt Whitman’s poem, Song of the Open Road. The quotation at the beginning of this section from that poem offers a beautiful metaphor for why I love English. The presence Whitman describes is the joy he brings to every moment, the zest for life that propels him forward. I feel those same connections to English. When I read a novel, write an essay, or annotate a poem, I delight in exercising a diverse array of analytical thinking and communication skills. More than ever, these skills are pre-requisites to be a productive citizen in our modern American society. Since I love the study of English, it’s only natural that I want to share this with others, especially students who might not fully see its relevance and value in their daily lives.

Love of Learning:     “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” – John Wooden

When I think about the best teachers I know, both people who have taught me and colleagues I’ve worked alongside in schools, they have all been perpetual learners. Coach Wooden’s quotation captures this trait particularly well. Rather than resting on their laurels, the best educators are always thinking about how they can make a lesson better, what new resources they can incorporate in their classrooms, and who they can collaborate with or learn from in their school? I’m most alive when I’m learning something new; it doesn’t really matter what I’m learning, so long as I’ve been properly engaged in the lesson and I can see some value to what I’m learning.

Flexibility:     “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” – Albert Einstein

There will be bad days in the classroom. Students will be agitated and disinterested; even the star students will have off days. When I first started teaching I didn’t understand that these days were not only going to happen, but they were necessary. I wouldn’t have grown as a teacher if I wasn’t forced to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm. These experiences also made me a more valuable member of my school community because they led me to seek feedback and guidance from a range of colleagues. Flexibility is a catch-all term for the ingenuity, improvisation, and open-mindedness that teachers need to survive in our profession. I cannot reach all students without being flexible; the unique needs of my students require me to differentiate instruction, curriculum, and assessments. Similarly, students must be flexible in their approaches to learning, which is why it’s critical that I model this trait in my classroom. Flexibility, one of the elements of a growth mindset, presents many benefits when taught to students: they will be more likely to display empathy and value diversity, engage in meaningful dialogue, and view missteps as opportunities for growth.

Vision and Value:     “[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” – Jim Henson

A teacher who possesses vision can see the big picture, the minute details, and how to connect them. When I tap my vision, I can see what is happening in my classroom and I can also take a step back and recall similar situations a few years prior and how I approached them, applying this knowledge to the present. Besides diligence in recall, vision helps me remove myself from the emotional circumstances of a situation to view the details rationally and from numerous perspectives. Vision is a key to understanding the importance of my students feeling valued. I worked for four years as a college counselor, English teacher, and basketball coach at Severn School. Severn’s mission statement emphasizes that excellence as a community is achieved when all students are known and valued. At Severn I learned through practice how valuing my students as individuals led to some of the most meaningful classes that I’ve ever taught. How do I show my students that I value them? I get to know them on their terms. This means observing and supporting them when they are at their best, whether that is competing on the basketball court, acting in a play, or volunteering at a local soup kitchen. As Jim Henson reminds us, students remember what we are. I want my students to remember me as a teacher who challenged them and always valued them for their character and potential.

Purpose:         “I entered the classroom with the conviction that it was crucial for me and every other student to be an active participant, not a passive consumer…education that connects the will to know with the will to become.” – Bell Hooks

One of the earliest questions that we learn to ask as children is why? If we understand why then a world of other questions is unlocked for us. By addressing the purpose of learning a specific lesson or subject, teachers also address its value, its place in the world, and its place in students’ lives. My emphasis on purpose is linked to both a single lesson in the classroom and the all-encompassing question of why we learn anything at all. If students understand a purpose to what they are learning they are more likely to find value and thus more likely to put forth effort. If students can answer why, then they are the active participant that Bell Hooks describes in the above quotation. The toughest challenge that teachers face is leading students who don’t value the purpose of learning a subject, even after efforts to make this connection clear. Part of the reason students and teachers seek purpose is because the process of seeking answers is tremendously fulfilling, possibly more fulfilling than the answers themselves.