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Ten Minutes With…


Regina Morris

Position: 6th grade Language Arts teacher
Local Association.: Newport News 
Years worked in education: 34 


What is a typical school day like for you? 
I first make sure, the evening before, that plans are completed and everything I need is at hand. I greet my students at their lockers to make sure they bring what they need for all core classes. I teach three Language Arts classes in a team setting; my students have a different teacher for math and for social studies or science. On an “A” Day, there may be a journal topic on the Smart Board for them to write about, a thought-provoking springboard to a creative narrative or expository or persuasive journal writing. Then we get started on our novel reading of Booker T. Washington: Up from Slavery, which all sixth-graders are required to read. Afterwards, they’re off to other subjects for 45 minutes. Upon their return, we tackle our curriculum unit, “The Study of Fiction, Storytelling as a Human Experience.”

On “B” Days, I start with vocabulary-building for the first 30 minutes. Students are introduced to a set of 10 words from a story, and then get different activities for the next 10 days to help them connect with the words. Next is a mini-lesson on novels or short stories according to our curriculum pacing guide. After the mini-lesson and guided practice, we break into independent reading. Again, they’re off to related subjects, this time for 90 minutes.  
    
What do you like about your job?
I like seeing my students meet each other on the first day of school and how quickly they form bonds of friendship. Students are assigned to teacher core teams whose classrooms are located near each other. When they change classes within the core areas, students greet each other like they haven’t seen one another in a month of Sundays. I also love the challenge my job brings each day and helping students achieve their best, not only academically, but personally. Middle school students connect with teachers who have their best interest at heart. They come into middle school as scared elementary school students and leave at the end of the year as prepared seventh-graders.

What is hard about your job?   
Time is my largest opponent. I am still at school, typing this at 7:36 p.m. after I’ve checked three sets of papers and recorded the grades.
 
Teaching English daily to 80 students requires a tremendous amount of reading and commentary. Trying to stay ahead of the game with the grading of papers can be overwhelming. When students ask about a project grade, they want it the next day. I let them know I’m working as hard as I can to give them the best possible grade without any human errors. 

What are some of the most fun and unusual things that have happened on the job?
One year about 18 of my students gave me coffee for Christmas. When I asked them why, they didn’t want to tell me, but I soon found out that they felt I was calmer after my usual two cups. Another year I received chocolate from all 26 of my students for Valentine’s Day. I hadn’t realized how much chocolate I was letting them see me eat on a daily basis.

How has being an Association member been helpful to you?
As I come to the end of my career and look back at the many things this Association has done for educators over the years, it makes me proud to know that I’ve been allowed to be a part of it. When we helped defeat legislation that would have allowed experienced teachers to be fired without reason and without due process at the end of three-year term contracts, I knew I would be a member for life.

I have had an opportunity to be my building representative for many years, a NEA delegate at three conventions, and to attend countless VEA workshops. The most recent was the Reggie Smith Organizing School this summer at the University of Richmond, where I participated in providing strategies for working with students on a wide array of instructional topics.

 


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