Teaching & Learning Blog

Ready or Not

Hanne Denney was a third year special education teacher at Arundel High School in Gambrills, Maryland. A career changer who entered the profession through an alternative-certification program, she’s an older “new” teacher trying to bring relevance and rigor to her classes by tirelessly seeking wisdom as an educator. Hanne shared her perspective and ideas in this opinion blog. This blog is no longer being updated, but you can continue to explore these issues on edweek.org by visiting our related topic pages: new teachers.

Education Opinion Moving to Middle
So I am moving to Southern Middle School, beginning a new chapter in my educational career. I have to laugh at that line, because "new chapter" sounds profound, but I think educators make changes in their careers more frequently now. Gone are the days when a teacher began and finished his/her career in one school, or even in one grade or program. Now I hear about teachers changing grade levels, changing content areas, going from special education to general and back again, or moving into administration and back to teaching. I think change is a good thing, because it keeps teachers fresh and professionally stimulated. If our minds are not engaged with new learning and experience, how can we engage our students' minds?
Hanne Denney, June 28, 2007
1 min read
Education Opinion 'Tis the Season
Joy to the World, 'tis the season for celebration. I know it's not the winter holidays, but it is holiday time for educators. We're celebrating the end of our year.
Hanne Denney, June 17, 2007
1 min read
Education Opinion Prom Dress
The other day I took a walk at home. My neighbor saw me and said, “Haven’t seen you much lately.” Without thinking I answered, “I haven’t seen myself much lately either.” A moment later, standing on a pier looking over the Chesapeake Bay, I realized what I had said. I haven’t seen myself much lately? Did that mean something on a deep subconscious level?
Hanne Denney, May 2, 2007
1 min read
Education Opinion Sunday Evening
I think every teacher spends Sunday evening thinking about the upcoming week. We plan for lessons, meetings scheduled, copies to be made, grading papers we didn’t get done this weekend. But this Sunday I’m thinking back on last week. It was a hard one, for several reasons. But this posting isn’t about me. It’s about one small success I experienced with my students. It’s about that thing that brings me back every Monday morning, ready or not.
Hanne Denney, March 11, 2007
2 min read
Education Opinion Paths in the Woods
I am not a “new” teacher any more, this being my third year at Arundel High School. And I am certainly not a “young” teacher, this being my 49th year of life. I began my education career through a career-changer program. I figure I’ve got twenty years left before I’ll retire, so now I’ve got to decide what to do with those years. If the paths diverge, which one should I take?
Hanne Denney, February 5, 2007
3 min read
Education Opinion Countdown to Happiness
They aren’t really resolutions, but here's a countdown of ten ideas that may help you become a better teacher, or at least a happier one. Some have already worked for me, and others are goals for this year. I'm not telling which is which.
Hanne Denney, January 14, 2007
2 min read
Education Opinion Tales Well Told
Just a quick note to tell you that The Arundel Tales presentation went well. The students practiced their stories with each other, made final revisions, and then presented them aloud. They mostly read from their papers, but they read competently with their partners. They applauded each other. They ate lots of food. I smiled through the whole thing.
Hanne Denney, December 26, 2006
1 min read
Teaching Profession Opinion The Teacher's Tale
I teach senior English. It's a group of 10 students, all of whom I've taught before. Some of them were in my world civilization class my first year as a teacher. I was terrified when I entered that classroom. It was a self-contained class of 14 students with individualized education plans (IEP's). Their needs were great, and my skills were few. I didn't really know much about how to teach special education, and I learned the history curriculum days before my students learned it. I struggled, they struggled, and together we learned something.
Hanne Denney, December 20, 2006
2 min read
Education Opinion Music Magic
I received tremendous response to my last posting about using manipulatives in secondary English and Social Studies classes. The posting was really about teacher fatigue, and trying out new ideas. Or maybe it was about burn-out, for both teachers and students, and how to combat it. I know this is a theme running throughout the professional lives of many teachers. We work really hard and sometimes feel burned-out and fatigued. But when we find new ideas or learn something new, we get back up and try again.
Hanne Denney, November 25, 2006
3 min read
Education Opinion Feeling Better, Thanks.
I have to say I am feeling better now. Thanks for your messages of support. It seems I am not the only teacher who sometimes feels lonely, even if the midst of a teeming high school.
Hanne Denney, October 29, 2006
2 min read
Education Opinion Third-Year Syndrome
I’ve been waiting to write an entry, because my brain feels kind of cloudy. I’m slow, and a little achy, and my head feels tight. It would be easy to tell you I must be getting sick, but I don’t think that’s it. I’m suffering from “teacher flu”. I am kind-of down.
Hanne Denney, October 16, 2006
2 min read
Education Opinion Start to Finish
Time to grow up. I’ve been telling my students that this week. We’re into our fourth week of school and they have yet to really engage in the learning process. I am struggling with methods of motivation. I’m trying to connect to students. I’m trying to find relevance between curriculum and personal stories. I want students to integrate what I’m teaching into their experiences.
Hanne Denney, September 24, 2006
3 min read
Education Opinion Book-Ends
I’ve had two full weeks with my students and I am beginning to know them. Of the six classes I teach, five are ninth grade English. I’m working with two co-teachers, and I have two self-contained classes. Ninth graders are in that great transition period from childhood to adulthood. The beginning of high school is the bridge they cross to enter this period of their lives.
Hanne Denney, September 9, 2006
4 min read
Education Opinion Core Values
Aren’t you excited? I’m excited. Like all teachers everywhere, I’m getting my mind and heart ready for back-to-school. I’m not ready, but I’m excited. I’m thinking about my core values – Discovery, Sharing, and Joy.
Hanne Denney, August 16, 2006
2 min read