Introducing Rebecca

It has been just about six months since I closed up my classroom in sunny Southern California, picked up my life, and moved to Bloomington, Indiana to pursue my PhD in Learning Sciences. I can say that a year ago I certainly did not think I would be posting on a blog about Re-Mediating Assessment. I didn't think I would writing up my research or be helping teachers develop and discuss curriculum that fosters more participation and learning in their classroom. But here I am.

In fact, a year ago I was celebrating Banned Books Week with my AP Language and Composition and Honors 9 English classes, preparing my Mock Trial team for another year of success, starting a competitive forensics team, chairing the AP department, and generally trying to convince my colleagues that my lack of “traditional” tests and use of technology in my almost-paperless classroom were not only good ideas, but actually enhanced learning. A year ago I was living life in sunny Southern California as normal ... then I decided to take the GRE. And I am so glad I did. It has been an interesting journey getting to this moment.

I never thought I would become a teacher. I have an AA in Dance, an AA in Liberal Arts, and a BA in Theatre Directing, but I found that working in the top 99 seat theatre in Los Angeles left me wanting more. When I went back for my MAEd and teaching credential, I was the only one who was surprised. Teaching students, I learned, is very much like directing actors - we want them to come to conclusions, but they need to come to them in their own way in order for the outcome to be authentic.

I have worked as a choreographer, director, and actor. I have taught 10 minute playwriting and directed festivals, as well as developed curriculum around this theme. I studied Tourette Syndrome under Dr. David Commings at the Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope, and informally counseled TS students at the high school. I am a classical dancer and recently picked up circus arts as a hobby.

Each of these very different interests contributed to my teaching. We explored literature through discussion, and often took on the roles of the characters to discuss what a piece said about the society in which it was written and its relevance today. Quite often administrators walked in while students were debating the ethics of the latest redaction of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or discussing Fitzgerald’s symbolism while dressed to the nines at a Gatsby picnic. Still, I came up against resistance when presenting my methods and ideas to my colleagues; they didn't think that I was teaching if I wasn't giving traditional tests. I had too many A's and too few F's. I knew that I could affect greater change, but I wasn't sure how. Then the opportunity to come to Indiana University and work with Dan Hickey arose, and I had to take it.

Now I am in Bloomington, reflecting on a semester of writing, learning, studying, and creating curriculum. I have immersed myself in the school and culture and work here, and have found smaller networks of people with whom I can engage, play, think, debate, and grow. I am excited and encouraged by the adventures that await in this chapter, and am looking forward.


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