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What Teaching Looks Like In North Carolina

The caption to this tweet: "#teachinginNC Water's Edge Village School in Corolla, NC (NC's smallest public school); our motto: We got this!"

At the beginning of this school year, WUNC ran an experiment. We asked teachers a simple question: "Give us a snapshot of your life, in words or pictures."

By the end of the month we had 1,400 responses, mostly on Twitter.

Teachers talked about their pay, their frustrations, their surprising moments, their working weekends, their plugged up classroom toilets. They took photos of t-shirts kids wore and notes students left. We saw a remarkable number of ways teachers are using technology. In short, we received just what we asked for, a window into the teaching profession in North Carolina today.

>> Look at the archive of responses here. Look at how educational leaders across the state responded to the project here.

Nancy Gardner is one of the teachers who contributed to the project. Gardner is National Board Certified Teacher with over 26 years of experience in grades 7-12. She currently teaches senior English at Mooresville High School in Mooresville, N.C. where she chairs the English Department. We asked Nancy to review the tweets and Instagram contributions and tell us what she saw:

"I am inspired, and yes, a little weepy, when I read and view all of these at one time," writes Gardner. "Although some of these mention the salaries and frustrations with all of the issues facing NC teachers, the 'narrative' continues to reinforce the dedication our teachers have to helping all students become successful, in spite of the challenges."

Gardner then provided this list, something she calls "broad takeaways":

the look of the classrooms

"No longer do we have rows of traditional teaching with the teacher in the front of the room," writes Gardner.  "All levels, K-12 are in small groups-and the lessons are teacher facilitated or coached."

the tools

"So many different uses of technology," notes Gardner, "so we need to make sure all schools and districts have this opportunity."

the standards

"These projects and activities are aligned to the [Common Core State Standards]," asserts Gardner. "Students are researching, writing, problem solving, analyzing,creating, designing, experimenting ... the teaching to the [Common Core] requires this kind of student engagement so that students are learning to think."

the key players

"The students are involved in their own learning, well coached by the teachers," says Gardner.  "There is so much evidence of the planning, grading, preparation, shopping, setting up for effective lessons that help students master the skills in the standards.  Teachers spend time outside of their teaching days to make sure this happens. Their collegiality and collaboration with other teachers is important to this process."

the diversity of our students

"The NC population is changing," says Gardner. "Teachers have embraced that and are making sure all students can learn.  The students look engaged and full of joy - while teachers also celebrate their students' successes."

Thanks to Nancy Gardner for reviewing the #TeachingInNC project for us. Nancy is a teacher, and a 2014-2015 Teacherpreneur. Her workweek is divided between teaching students and designing systems-level solutions for public education. She works closely with the Center for Teaching Quality.

>> Browse the complete archive of #TeachingInNC responses here.

>> Look at how educational leaders across the state responded to the project here.


Carol Jackson has been with WUNC since 2006. As Digital News Editor, she writes stories for, and helps reporters and hosts make digital versions of their radio stories. She is also responsible for sharing stories on social media. Previously, Carol spent eight years with WUNC's nationally syndicated show The Story with Dick Gordon, serving as Managing Editor and Interim Senior Producer.
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