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Starting something new…again

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As I’m beginning my ninth year teaching, I’m realizing that starting something new is, in fact, nothing new. Every year there are new educational initiatives, new technologies, new curriculum and new expectations. We are always starting something new. In some ways it can be frustrating – adapting to new standards, modifying old curriculum and managing new technologies is time consuming and sometimes takes away from why we became teachers – to help students. However, to help prepare students for an ever-changing, 21st Century we have to be constantly willing to start something new.

I ventured into the online world with rambling posts about various topics, starting something out of my comfort zone. Every day I challenge my students to start something – a cultural movement, an unfamiliar act, a kind gesture. I challenge my students to break out of their comfort zones. There’s a great TED Talk from Charlie Todd titled “The Shared Experience of Absurdity.”

I show this video to my students because it’s important for them to understand it’s OK to stretch themselves beyond their limits and test uncomfortable waters. It’s what helps them grow.

I’m also showing this video to 120+ English teachers around the state this weekend at our annual North Dakota Council of Teachers of English conference (sounds exciting, I know). I’ve been assigned a session that is meant to “inspire” teachers. This is definitely out of my comfort zone as I don’t feel quite qualified to inspire anyone. However, as I covered in my last post, I have been inspired. I’m hoping that by sharing those experiences (as well as some videos), teachers will leave the session inspired and refreshed.

It’s hard to know how inspirational I can be for my peers. The important thing is that I accept the challenge in hopes of motivating my students to do the same.

Stay tuned for:
NDCTE presentation recap (7/29/14)

The Tale Behind the Title

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The title of this blog dates back to five years ago this summer. After two years of advising the award-winning Packer newspaper, I was removed from that position. I still retained my role as yearbook adviser and English teacher,  but my passion for education took a big hit that summer. I’m not going to delve into details. Stories about the situation still surface when my students Google my name (which they do quite frequently). They can be found here, here or here…and countless other places. There is no need to rehash the past. The support I received from parents, colleagues and most importantly students still resonates with me today – it was humbling and extremely inspiring.

That’s why I believe the title of this blog fits so well. The demoralizing blow I experienced that summer was softened through the determination and grit my students showed in their supportive approaches. Above everything else, they represented themselves as young professionals, which is how we operated within the publications classroom.

As teachers, we try to prepare students for the next level. We attempt to make learning authentic and give students a glimpse of “real world” applications. My students used their skills, remained strong through adversity and made me extremely proud.

I have since returned to my position as newspaper adviser. I’ll be starting my fourth year after taking those two years off. West Fargo newspaper students have moved their program to an elite level. They have a massive social media following, a successful, popular news website and an award-winning print publication…not to mention the scholarships, awards and accolades.

Students from that summer inspired me to continue in my adviser role. They motivated me to continue to provide an environment where students control the content of their publication. They showed me (and others) what success looks like when it is fostered in an atmosphere that promotes real world, 21st century skills. It isn’t something that shows up on a test or report card. It is the lasting impact on me and the hundreds of students I have worked with since that summer.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Stay tuned for:
“Starting Something New…Again” (7/25/14)

Jeremy Murphy is a journalism and English teacher at West Fargo High School in West Fargo, North Dakota. This blog represents his observations from his professional growth in his nine year career. In no way should this be mistaken for advice or any form of professional expertise. If you are looking for an expert in teaching, English and/or life, you are on the wrong site. You can follow Jeremy on Twitter at @mr_jmurphy or email him at jpmurphy@west-fargo.k12.nd.us.

It’s about time

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I’ve had this blog created for almost a year. This is my first post. I’m not sure why I waited to pull the trigger on publishing something. I think it’s because I’m hesitant to put myself “out there.” I don’t really have any profound insights on teaching. I’m not an expert in English. I sometimes even struggle with the daily routines of life. I’m not sure I have much to offer to a vast online audience.

However, in my never-ending pursuit of self-improvement, I came across this quote someone tweeted from a keynote address by Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd), “you are doing a disservice by not sharing the great things you’re doing as a teacher.” I think this holds true for not only great achievements in the classroom, but also failures we learn from. This prompted me to take the plunge and publish this first post.

To introduce the “Hired, Fired, Inspired” blog, I have established some goals/ground rules:

1. Posts will be brief – I have so much I want to share and I have a tendancy to ramble sometimes (so my students tell me). I will be concise and to the point, which should help me post more frequently.

2. Posts are based on current observations – As I said before, I’m not an expert. I am always trying to improve and learn how to enhance the classroom experience for my students. All posts will be based on something seen or heard elsewhere.

This blog is my attempt to record the successes and failures of my professional development.

Stay tuned for:
 “The Tale Behind the Title” (7/21/14)

Jeremy Murphy is a journalism and English teacher at West Fargo High School in West Fargo, North Dakota. This blog represents his observations from his professional growth in his nine year career. In no way should this be mistaken for advice or any form of professional expertise. If you are looking for an expert in teaching, English and/or life, you are on the wrong site. You can follow Jeremy on Twitter at @mr_jmurphy or email him at jpmurphy@west-fargo.k12.nd.us.