Tim Ramsey retired as a principal, then returned to education as a classroom teacher, where he thrives on helping students love reading and writing.Feb 10, 2020
“Everybody can write” is the motto that drives Tim Ramsey’s teaching at Westwind Elementary School in Pendergast Elementary School District.
Ramsey is in his fourth year of teaching 7th grade, but his 37th year in education. He started out as a high school science teacher, then transitioned to teaching fifth grade. He was then a principal for 15 years before retiring in 2013 and returning to the classroom.
“It really is the kids that bring me back every day,” Ramsey said. He loves seeing his students identify themselves as writers and embrace their voices.
“Real writing is when you do put your voice out there,” he said.
In Ramsey’s first year back in the classroom, his students were often talking about the number and frequency of school shootings. He embraced that conversation and set up class time for his students to discuss their ideas for making their school safer and writing a list of concrete, viable ideas to pass on to the district superintendent.
As a hook for an informative essay assignment, Ramsey has students select a name from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall using VirtualWall.org and research that individual. He also has classes write expository essays about Malala Yousafzai and freedom of education around the world, another on the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, and a narrative from the perspective of someone in New York City on September 11, 2001.In addition to teaching at Westwind, Ramsey also teaches writing at Estrella Mountain Community College and models to his students what it is to be a writer. Ramsey journals daily, including also noting a moment that brought him joy in the classroom that day, and has had essays published in six different volumes of Chicken Soup for the Soul. The Arizona English Teachers Association has also awarded Ramsey multiple times in its annual Teachers as Writers Contest.
Tim Ramsey’s tips for encouraging reluctant readers
-Don’t be afraid to be creative with your students.
-Tie in current events and what your students are already talking about.
-Model with your own writing. Share what you have written with your students.
-Help students not fear writing because of grammar. Ramsey has students sometimes write a draft that won’t be graded for grammar.
-Encourage reluctant writers to try speaking and recording what they want to say, then transcribing. This can help those intimidated by a blank page get started.