Reboot 1

Interesting, inspirational, and important professional development has saved my teaching life on many occasions.  This past weekend, it happened again.  I attended the Fall Conference of the Shenandoah Valley Writing Project and left with ideas, plans, and lessons I couldn’t wait to try out.

One of my favorites came from a young teacher, Sam Gesford, from Shenandoah County.  He demonstrated a metaphor lesson that went like this:

If I were an a)____________ I would be a b) ___________ because c)_______________.

Possibilities for a) include:

  • color
  • holiday
  • vehicle
  • animal
  • food item
  • OR choose your own adventure

Patrick said, “If I were a vehicle, I would be a limo because I store very important things.”

Milee said she was Halloween because “you don’t want to be on my bad side!”

Khalil would be “a Tesla X Type because I go from 0-60 in 29 seconds.’

Students were encouraged to share their metaphors with their families. In Sam’s demo lesson, our writing ‘partner’ wrote a metaphor about our writing as a response. In class, I asked the students to ask an adult family member to respond with a metaphor.  Danielle’s older brother wrote, “Your writing is a fan because it never stops.”

Addison’s Mom wrote, “Your writing is sunshine because it makes me feel warm inside.”

Some of the metaphors were more confessional…

“If I were a color, I’d be red because sometimes I rage really hard.” admitted Jake. 


Sarah confessed, ” If I were a food item, I would be ice cream because I am cold-blooded.” 

Metaphors are hard. They are especially hard for kids that are 11 and 12 years old. Sam’s lesson was fun and engaging and all of my students have a much firmer grasp on the concept then they did before.  That’s what professional development should be – but so often is not.

Teachers teaching teachers. Teachers teaching kids. It doesn’t get any better than that.


On the last day of school I asked my 7th graders to write a letter of advice to the teacher who is taking my place next year. We are switching places; she to 7th and me to 6th.  I asked them to help her understand the most important things about 7th graders as they were the resident experts in the field.  Here is a sampling:

When you are teaching seventh grade, you gotta have tough skin and a good temper, with that you’ll be fine.’ Connor

I want you to know that you should beware of people talking. 7th graders love it.’ Kaidee

Get ready for a wild ride.’ Kyle

7th grade is a little tough. Some of the 7th graders are a little crazy but you’ll survive. I found out that if you stay chill and take your time, then you will have a great time.‘ Burke

7th graders are really smelly. Now that I got that off my head, you should be very calm with them. As all people do, they make mistakes…(a lot)…’ Carter

‘Always have pencils in the class because everyone loses them.‘ Amanda

I am going to tell you right now, BUCKLE UP!’ Devereaux

If you get my brother, please whip him into shape.’ Mady

7th graders can be picky, but that’s only a small portion of 7th graders. Overall they’re OK – wait that’s a lie, they can be kind of a handful.’ Adam

‘Good luck on your 7th grade classes next year (you’ll need it). Amber

‘Always be fun so the students are on your side.’ Dominic

‘7th graders are just 6th graders a year older. Lily

7th grade is hard as is so be chill and don’t make it harder.’ Sebastian

I personally think the 7th graders you will get aren’t as amazing as us so you should just teach 8th grade.’ Payton

‘I heard you are teaching 7th grade (THAT COULD BE A BIG MISTAKE). Lindsay

Go easy on us and never trust us.’ Eric

A lot of kids ask each other who is your favorite teacher, I hope all your 7th grade students say you!‘ Christian

Don’t underestimate 7th graders. We can surprise you.’ Emma

Every day, Emma, every day…