by Rachel Taliaferro
A couple months ago, I came across this essay on The Millions by writer and teacher Nick Ripatrazone. In it, he shares 55 notes about teaching high school English (some notes can be read as advice to fellow teachers, others as simply quiet truths and observations) that he's collected in his decade as an instructor.
I didn't think much of the piece at first, but in the months of editing manuscripts that followed my initial reading of it, I've come across a striking amount work written by educators that echoes many of Ripatrazone's sentiments, and not always in the context of a high school English classroom. Sometimes these echoes come across in the form of a familiar maxim (Thought 36: "Create meticulous plans for each day."), and sometimes they carry the urgency of modern education reform (Thought 14: "Teachers used to be activists. There is a difference between being an activist within your classroom--which is not your role--and being an activist for your profession and your students."). I've found myself visiting Ripatrazone's piece at least a couple times a week because I'm reminded of it so frequently in the material I've been editing.
For any beginning teacher, whether you teach English or not, this is a great piece to read and think over, as many of Ripatrazone's thoughts reflect very current and relevant issues in education and are valuable pieces of advice for teachers who don't have the 10 years' experience.
As a bonus, Ripatrazone was interviewed about his piece just last week on New Hampshire Public Radio in a segment that you can listen to here.