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Ten Minutes with…Carole Barber

Position:  Eighth-grade English teacher at Wilbur S. Pence Middle School
Local Assn.:  Rockingham County Education Association (President)     
Years worked in education: 1 in North Carolina, almost 33 in Virginia

What is a typical school day like for you?
Crazy. I get up around 6:30 in order to be at school by 8:00. Once there, my schedule includes homeroom, three eighth-grade English classes, one planning period, and a 30-minute study hall. Planning is in the morning one day and afternoon the next. During planning, I might attend IEP meetings or team meetings or do whatever paperwork needs to be done. I might chat with my colleagues about school issues or just have a personal conversation. Sometimes I even have time to grade papers. I rarely go home right after school. If I am working with a homebound student, I will tutor. Prior to SOL testing, I might be tutoring at my school. On Mondays, I volunteer at my church’s community Clothes Closet. At the moment, I am choreographing dance numbers for my school musical The Music Man, Jr. Then, of course, there are the VEA/RCEA meetings and school board meetings to attend

What do you like about your job?
I love middle school kids. They are such fun. They can be treated like adults, but they can still be child-like. I like that combination. Middle-schoolers will laugh at my dumb jokes – most of the time, anyway. I love teaching literature and turning students on to imagination and dramatics through words and figurative language. A few more things I enjoy:

     • Oh, it is just great when I choreograph a number for the musical and it all comes together beautifully.

     • I love puns. I like to be “punny,” as I call it, and see if the kids catch the joke. I can be very dramatic and I like a good laugh with my students.

     • I particularly enjoy teaching short stories such as “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Poe and “The Landlady” by Roald Dahl, because students get such a kick out of the disgusting events that take place in those stories. Students refer to and talk about these stories all year long.

What is hard about your job?
Standing most of the day is tough on my knees and feet. I refuse to wear old lady shoes yet so being on my feet so much during the day is difficult. Making the transition into the world of technology is difficult for me. I am not looking forward to learning more technological skills. Just give me my books and whiteboard and I am a happy camper.

What are some of the most fun and unusual things that have happened on the job?
I was doing the choreography for our school's musical, The Music Man. For the dance moves in "Wells Fargo Wagon," I decided I wanted to incorporate some “Gangnam-style” dance steps, since both have to do with a galloping horse rhythm.

So, after studying a how-to Gangnam-style dance video on Youtube, I demonstrated and taught some of the steps to about 40 cast members. I got a rousing round of applause. It was pretty funny, actually. Unfortunately, the arthritis in my knees didn't like it, so I had to take ibuprofen and ice my knees when I got home. All in a day's work!

I’ve also assigned research papers and students get to choose topics they’re interested in, so soon I’ll be reading my students’ writing on topics like cannibalism and high-heeled shoes.

How has being an Association member been helpful to you?
More like how hasn’t it been helpful. Early in my teaching and membership career, I attended leadership trainings and conventions, where I made some good friends. I have learned leadership skills and how to be comfortable in my own skin in front of large groups of people. I have learned how to be a true professional and how to talk with others about my profession. Unfortunately, Association membership hasn’t simmered down my natural tendency to speak my mind openly, sometimes without tact.



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