Stories from the Teaching Life

The podcasts below are available on the Teaching Learning Sessions website (click on the podcast title) as well as on iTunes.

You can subscribe to the series via RSS or iTunes.

Season 2

Haunted
In this episode, Penny shares a collection of 3 stories of students who she failed to reach. Over time, over failures, she has learned to embrace this haunting. Like many teachers who want to save all her students–maybe like you–her former failures help her today to possibly succeed with others. This story appeared in Public Teaching One Kid at a Time.

Donuts to Dollars
In this episode, Penny shares a piece of writing about teaching in a small town where it is not uncommon to see students appear in the local paper–for good reasons or otherwise, students from years past or even from the current semester. It is also about the challenge some students face when Graduation Day is a finish line, and they see it just ahead. A perfect story for this time of year. This story appeared in Public Teaching One Kid at a Time.

Earning My Stripes
In this episode, Penny shares a piece of writing that is especially important to her that appeared in Public Teaching One Kid at a Time. Don Graves once read it aloud as part of a keynote, and it is Penny’s husband Pat’s favorite piece of her writing. It recounts an incident when Penny “…had to teach beyond the blush.”

Beneath White Icing
In this episode, Penny talks about a dilemma in writing workshop and the consequences for her response when a student writes a draft of epic profanity and violence. It is a compelling piece about the challenges for teachers and students when tackling the meaning of “choice” in writing.

Kelsey
In this episode, Penny shares the story of Kelsey, whose recurring absences created tension in the classroom. But her story is more complex than that. And so is the impression she and Penny leave on each other through their time together.

Kleenex
Usually, when Penny writes about her husband Pat, it’s a homerun. He sings to her class on their anniversary, or he creates a multi-genre project about Penny to share with the class. But in this episode, Pat strikes out in his critique of a draft Penny shared with him. And eventually that helps Penny better understand the importance of response to her students’ writing.

Shaina
In this episode, Penny shares the story of Shaina. This is a beautiful, absolutely heart-wrenching story of a student who used writing to help her process the loss of her mother to cancer.

 

Kristen – A Story in Two Parts
In this episode, a two-parter! Penny shares the story of Kristen in two parts. First, as a former student whose profanity led to vast improvements in her writing and reading. (Yes, because the consequence for the gutter mouth was lunch with Ms. Kittle...) And second as a student who overcame many obstacles to complete her degree, yet never wavered in her commitment to reading.

 

Josh – The start of Season 2
This is the debut of Season 2 of Stories from the Teaching Life. Penny shares the story of Josh, a student who taught her a lesson about writing that she has always remembered because he risked everything to tell the hardest story that he’d lived so far.

Season 1

Start Where They Are
The subject of this episode is building reading lives that last. At the center of the story from Book Love is a student Penny worked with two years ago.

Risk, Voice, and Clarity in Teaching
Penny shares the speech she gave at the National Council of Teachers of English in November, 2009 when her book Write Beside Them was given the James N. Britton Award.

My First Steelie
The subject of this story is fishing and teaching, as Penny shares an essay that first appeared in The Greatest Catch: a life in teaching (Heinemann, 2005).

Beyond Courtship
The subject of this episode is love and marriage. And teaching.

It features a special guest visiting Penny’s classroom, a moment that was at once the most romantic and the most embarrassing of her life (to that point), and the value in a life’s work worth doing well..

“Of Frog Legs, Crickets, and Superman’s Cape”
The subject of this student teaching and a memory Penny will never forget…

One Parent Dies, Another Lives
The subjects of this episode are Molly and Chris, two students Penny taught in one of her first years of teaching elementary school. They may be like students you have had in the past or may be like students you have right now. This story is a reminder that sometimes the most important, longest-lasting work a teacher does is based on circumstances that extend far beyond the classroom..

Multi-Genre Marriage
The subject of this episode is love and marriage. And teaching.

At the center of the story is another visit to Penny’s classroom by her husband Pat, who shows and shares some of the rich learning that multi-genre writing can bring to your classroom. (He also has a speaking role.)

Beginning
The subject of this episode is Penny’s first year of teaching career.

At the center of the story is 34 first-graders, self-doubt, growing confidence, and the emotion of all kinds of beginnings.

Grace
The subject of this episode is grace, in all forms.

At the center of the story is clumsiness (Penny’s) and the virtues of grace and effectiveness in teaching.

About More than Baseball
The subject of this episode is summertime, baseball, and more.

The major league baseball post-season begins this week, so this story seemed apt. This is the first story Penny wrote for Public Teaching, One Kid at a Time.

Notes from a Life Scientist
Penny tells a story about a junior high crush, being 13 years old, and the potential hazards presented by a disengaged chemistry teacher.

One Boy, One Book, One Principal
Penny tells a story about reading and the relationship between one boy and his principal, Kevin Richard, who is now the Superintendent of Penny’s school district in New Hampshire.

Wings, Shoes, Stories, Truths
Penny’s story is about her high school classroom and the costumes her students wear.

Stories from the Teaching Life with Penny Kittle, a special edition
In this special episode, Penny has a conversation with Kevin Carlson about her writing life, her reading life, and what she considers her most important work in education: The Book Love Foundation. This conversation originally appeared on the Re:Teaching podcast.

Reasons to Fish
Penny’s story is about a writing conference with her friend and mentor Don Murray. The piece became the introduction to The Greatest Catch.

 

Andrew
Penny shares the story of Andrew, a student fighting so many things he can’t control but determined to walk across the stage on graduation day..

Writing Giants, Columbine, and the Queen of Route 16
Penny shares her first published piece and encourages you to think about how you can turn your teaching life into writing, because she has learned more about teaching simply by writing about it than from anything she has read in her teaching life.

Fridays, Rumors, and Hard Truths
Penny shares a story about all the things a teacher can’t control in her teaching life. The story is short, but the lessons are long.

If Life Were a Movie, How Would You Write It?
Penny shares a story about digital storytelling and the impact of technology on all of our lives.

The Road from Where We Are
Penny shares a story about her work teaching in an adult ed program.

The End of Season 1
Penny marks the end of Season 1 of Stories from the Teaching Life and talks about Season 2 with producer Kevin Carlson.