Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Communications: A Whole New World

This school year is a different one for me. I am purely a teacher of elective classes. The majority of my day is spent working with my seventh-grade communications students. In my county, it's the first opportunity that students get a say in their learning. Their choices include a foreign language high-school level class, coding, and my class.

Last year, I taught communications and English. My communications classes totaled seventeen students at the beginning of last year. This year, I started with 72 and I'm already over 80 since the year began. 

We create in our class! Right now they are finishing up photography portfolios. We collaborate on projects. Our next project is to create student presentations. We learn and practice communication skills. We struggle through critical thinking and problem solving and we contribute to the class, the school, and the world around us. 

My friends, those of you who teach core content classes...did you know how different it is to be a teacher of an elective? I had no idea! It's a learning curve for me. It requires much more flexibility as schedule changes are focused on core classes more than electives. The state tests are not a direct concern for me anymore, which means so many directives that come down skip over me. My head spins with all the differences. 

The best part of being a teacher of electives is the students...doesn't it always come down to that? They have had a real choice in picking this class and I can see that difference in the classroom.  We have projects yet no homework, but what I've found is more students voluntarily working on homework because they care about what they are doing. 

We create an original news show every single day. It's four minutes long. We deliver important information and we entertain. Each day a different student edits the news together and creates the show. I'd say, on average,  the editing can take an hour. Students are begging to edit. BEGGING for homework! If a student doesn't complete it, I send out a message and I always have one or two ready to step up and take over. 

THIS is what I love! Witnessing students finding their voices. Teaching electives is a new world for me and I'm loving it. 

Read more slices at Two Writing Teachers!


  1. I'm thrilled you took the time to process this new chapter in your teaching life on your blog today. I know we've been Voxing about it, but writing it down and sharing it with others matters. It is a vast difference to teach electives and not have the direct pressure of state tests. But, you're right, it's about being flexible and learning new things (two things you're great at).
    Looking forward to catching up with you and learning more when we see each other next month!

  2. So cool, and so challenging, and yet the way you surface choice is key.

  3. I'm sure the flexibility can be daunting, but so much fun to teach a creative course that kids are really engaged in. Thanks for sharing!

  4. The key to teaching a core class is to give it the feel of an elective. I teach a combination. My AP Lit class is one of several options, and my Communication 1101 class is both elective and core, depending on whether or not the student has earned the required speech credit. It’s a strenuous class. I also teach speech.

    Your communication class sounds like a hybrid briadcasting and media course. Kids love opportunities to be creative. The class sounds fun! Enjoy.


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