About Adrian Layne

Hello! I’m Adrian, a public school educator who teaches students in grades 9-12 in Louisville, Kentucky. I teach in a magnet program for students who are interested in careers in the field of k-12 education. I am in my seventeenth year of teaching and I absolutely love what I do every day. I am originally from Pikeville, a small town nestled in the beautiful mountains of Eastern Kentucky. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in English and Allied Language Arts and 7-12 teaching certificate from Western Kentucky University. My Master’s degree and Rank I were earned at University of Louisville. I am currently working on a second Master’s degree from Western Kentucky in Library Media Education. In my spare time I enjoy the company of family and friends, the beach, and volunteering with the Lupus Foundation of America. Giving to others and lifelong education are of utmost importance to me.

Question #1– I’m a new teacher who happens to teach English to 6th graders in an urban school district. I’m overwhelmed with lesson planning, parent teacher conferences, delivering content that is interesting to the students, pacing them to finish novels and to “top it off” I don’t feel like I can ask for help because I don’t want to be looked at as “weak”. Help!

Answer #1:
Welcome to the teaching profession! All teachers feel overwhelmed from time to time, but I understand that doesn’t ease any of your burdens. No teacher (or any professional for that matter) wants to ever be viewed as being “weak”; however, the strong teachers are the ones who seek out help. With a discerning spirit and mindset, start looking for a faculty member in your building who teaches English, or even one who seems like they have a heart for others. Just chatting with a colleague about content will help you to begin to see that what you are teaching is up to par with veteran teachers. These informal conversations also allow you to learn teaching and organizational strategies that will help you.

I am in my 14th year of teaching, but I learned an awesome organizational strategy from a first year teacher last week. As long as you are trying to deliver interesting content to the students, you are more than likely delivering interesting content to the students. Students rarely think anything is cool/interesting unless fire or blood & guts are involved. Don’t take it personally if they don’t ‘ooh and ahh’ at your cool lesson. Half of teaching is acting, so just keep moving along like you know it’s the best lesson ever. They’ll come around.

As for keeping up with everything, you will never be fully caught-up until July. However, pre-planning will help you keep your head above water at least until Winter Break. Here are a few tips to help you.
1. Develop a system for parent communication. If you use an electronic grade book, consider sending grades home on a slip of paper every 3 weeks. Students earn a grade if they return the slip signed. If you communicate with parents in writing and often, they will be less likely to want to hold a face to face conference or a phone conference. I’m not knocking either, because parent involvement is essential to a successful student, but all educators know there are some matters that can be handled just as effectively via a note or e-mail.

2. If you do not work in a district where the Common Core Standards are mandated, use them anyway. Following these standards will serve as a nice road map as to what skills you should teach. The fun part for you will be to find what to teach. Oftentimes when I need advice on a new lesson, I simply update my Facebook status and my teacher-friends and former students flood my page with cool ideas and suggestions. Social media is a great tool for educators.

3. Pacing for novels was always a struggle for me. Knowing that many students do not/will not read outside of class, I had to make sure to allow ample time for in-class reading. If I did assign reading for homework, I made sure it was a small, manageable amount, and I would allow at least two nights to read it. Mix up your in-class reading, too. You should read often, to model good reading and to keep the pace of the novel; pop-corn read if it’s a section with long passages; theater read for sections with lots of dialogue; prepare thoughtful discussion questions and let students engage in small literature circles. If it’s a popular book, you can also show a clip from the movie version from a section you are reading. Also search YouTube for student projects done on the book. These videos are helpful to illustrate a theme or discuss a character and can get students more involved in the reading. It may take longer to get through the book, but the point is for the students to read and understand the text, not simply finish a book.

By visiting websites like The Educator’s Room, you are making strides toward becoming a great teacher. Continue to seek out help, both online and within your building (and even neighboring schools) and there’s no doubt you and your students will be successful!


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