Labor Day seems like the perfect day to launch our teaching blog!
Labor Day is the last holiday before the school year truly kicks in, even for us teachers who start school earlier. Today we’re celebrating the last of summer and looking forward to a rich and rewarding school year by launching Portable Teacher. We are a group of full-time teachers with more than 40 years of teaching experience between us. We juggle district and state mandates with what we know to be best practice. We come from different parts of the country but come together over the idea that all good teachers want students to become life-long learners and readers who will become critically literate, participatory citizens in our democracy.
Our schools and students are different, but the issues we face as classroom teachers are the same. We wanted a place to write about our teaching and to share our ideas informally. Portable Teacher will be that place. A place to jot down what worked for us and a place to write about what didn’t work. We hope it will become a place where conversations that matter start and carry us through the school year. We hope you will take some of the ideas with you into your own classrooms, thus the portable part of our moniker, and then return to comment on how they worked. Portable teachers share portable ideas and may even teach, as two of us do, in portable classrooms. Welcome to Portable Teacher.
Want to know more about who are we? Here’s a brief introduction:
Lee grew up in Miami, FL where she got a spectacular education in the Miami Dade County Public Schools. In addition to participation in clubs, sports teams, honors and Advanced Placement classes, she had the good fortune to do an internship at the Dade County State Attorney’s office when Janet Reno was there. She also spent a grading period going to school in Israel with the Alexander Muss High School in Israel. These amazing experiences helped shape her view of education and the world, and ultimately led to her decision to stay in education.
Lee is in her fourteenth year in the classroom. She began teaching in 1995 in a middle school which was piloting the Orange County Literacy Project. After four years in Orange County she went to teach overseas in Turkey. While living overseas, she was able to travel quite a bit throughout Europe and Asia, including field trips with theater students to Zurich and Moscow. She taught in Turkey for four years and Darlington, South Carolina for two before returning to Orlando. She has taught language arts in all grades 6 through 12. She is currently in her fourth year at Cypress Creek High School in Orlando, Fl.
Lee has National Board Certification and has served as a Teacher Leader and Department Chair. It is her privilege and pleasure to spend her days trying to connect with teens in order to help them understand the value of education and the joy in reading and writing.
In the book “The World is Flat” by Thomas L. Friedman, there is a section where a parent asks what courses their child should take to become ready for the rapidly changing world they will enter. Friedman recommends finding the best teacher in the school and taking their course, no matter what they teach. The best teachers inspire students to become lifelong learners. Maurice Draggon placed the goal of inspiration into heart of his teaching. Specializing in instructional technology and web 2.0 resources, Maurice Draggon seeks every day to not only teach “lessons” but life long skills that can be applied whether one grows up to be a banker or a bio-chemist. Maurice sums up his teaching and life philosophy in two words: Think Beyond.
Christine Landaker teaches 8th grade English in Massachusetts. But she learned to be a teacher in Orange County, Florida with Lee Ann, Lee, and Beth. She has been teaching since 1993, and knew from the moment she set foot in a classroom as the teacher, this was what she was meant to be doing. Originally, Christine taught social studies/history, and she is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher in that area. This year, she is going to work on her certification in English. Keep your fingers crossed for her!
Christine counts herself unbelievably fortunate to have worked with Dr. Janet Allen in her literacy institutes, and she and Dr. Allen co-wrote the book Reading History: A Practical Guide to Improving Literacy.
When she’s not teaching, Christine can be found with her nose buried in a book, her hands digging in the dirt of her garden, or wielding her chef’s knife in the kitchen. She’d love to hear from you with teaching, gardening, and cooking tips and is always looking for another great book.
Beth Scanlon has taught English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), reading, and English for the past fifteen years in Florida. She currently teaches English I to ninth grade ESOL students in the AVID program. She also teaches three service learning classes as part of The Center, Cypress Creek High School’s reading, writing, and tutoring center and works part of the day as the curriculum resource teacher.
She attended the University of Florida and earned her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s degree in English Education from the PROTEACH program. In 2005 she completed her doctorate at the University of Central Florida. She used autoethnography as an approach to study her classroom. She is certified in English and has earned her ESOL and reading endorsement. In 2000 she earned National Board certification in Adolescence and Young Adult English Language Arts.
She is also a teacher consultant for the National Writing Project at the University of Central Florida. She recently coordinated NWP-UCF’s Volusia County Open Program for elementary school teachers. She came to teaching through her love of coaching although the only coaching she does these days is in the classroom for both teachers and students.
Lee Ann Spillane
Lee Ann has been teaching since 1972 when Mrs. Madigan, her fist grade teacher, gave her the responsibility leading one of the reading groups. She was that kind of kid. The kid that needed to be given responsibilities in the room lest she wreck havoc. She also liked being the leader. She’s been a leader in her own classroom since 1989. After an internship teaching senior International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement and Gifted classes, she felt the need to go back to school. While in graduate school, she taught in the first year writing program at Florida State University. Immersed in English literature (Milton and the Renaissance) and in teaching writing, she decided after being in college for more than 8 years to get some real world experience and returned to Orlando, FL to teach. She returned to graduate school as a beginning teacher and it was at the University of Central Florida where she met and began working for her mentor, Dr. Janet Allen.
As a teacher she is known for her work with high school readers and writers. Language Arts and Nationally Board Certified, she has taught ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade English of all levels. If you’d like to learn more about Lee Ann, visit her website at http://www.laspillane.org or follow her on twitter (spillarke).