North Carolina New Schools

Where did the summer go?

by Carrie Horton

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[This post was first published on the Kenan Fellows Program blog in August 2012.]

Really, where did it go?  Just yesterday I was entering final grades and picking out rafting shoes, and now I am setting up my classroom and just spent two days with my new students during our freshman summer camp/orientation.

This summer has been a whirlwind of learning new technologies, creating new friendships, facing challenging tasks and enjoying lots of fun.  I would not trade the experiences that the Kenan Fellows Program has given me for anything.  I have never been with a group of such talented and dedicated professionals, and I’m honored to be among this amazing group.

Although I have found it difficult to tie every experience during our professional development to my humanities classroom, I have found some connections that I didn’t believe I would find. I have used the engineering and NASA activities (which I found the least useful to the English classroom) to help the students begin learning to collaborate in groups during our summer camp.  In addition, I am going to take many of these activities back to our seminar class this year.  Although I will not use these activities in English, the students will still get the value of the experiences through that class and  I can now appreciate those things that weren’t directly tied to English. I am going to share so much of the new technology with my colleagues and students. We are going to do geo-caching in English/geography class.

But the most valuable piece that I have learned that will impact my teaching is the change in me.

I have looked at what I do and evaluated how I do it.  I know we are always supposed to be reflective practitioners, but sometimes in the middle of the year when we are trying to survive the many requests being thrown our way, it is difficult to take the time to do so.  My goal this year is to use all of you [colleagues in the Kenan Fellows Program] to work smarter, not harder.  You all have so many phenomenal things that you do with your students.  I want to try some different techniques to engage my students, and your successes give me the courage to try things in a new way.  I think my students will appreciate the diversity.

I start work days on Monday, and I can’t wait to go back and start putting these ideas into action.  Thank you all for the many discussions and sharing of ideas.  I appreciate it, and I know my students will as well!

In addition to being a Kenan Fellow, Carrie Horton is English department chair at the Wake NC State University STEM Early College High School, a partner school with NC New Schools.