This site has been silent because I was hacked. I thought I had lost it all. I spent the past few months trying to figure out what to do. My wonderful partner Ruth who was the original support for this site has retired, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get this space back. Today Ruth and I reconnected just in time. She knew what to do, and I am so grateful for her help. After a few hours on the phone with my partner, the host site, and a cyber protection site, we are back up and running. I am sorry for the silence, and I am looking over the next few months to update this site quite a bit. I have been immersed in my doctoral journey, and I am soon to be finishing this final semester. Hopefully. by this summer I will be Dr. Ilko, a feat that honestly I wasn’t sure until a few months ago would actually happen. It’s funny when I first got this site back today, I started looking at old posts and revisiting where this all began. When you think you have lost something, you tend to cherish it a little more when you are lucky enough to get it back.
I created this video almost 4 years ago as a model for my students when working on a piece by Sandra Cisneros “Those That Don’t” a chapter from one of my favorite books, House on Mango Street. It was my message to those who were judging our work as something that was less than when in reality I knew that it was where my students needed to go. What I didn’t realize at the time was this would become the focus of my work today.
I know now, and research shows promising practices that reading and writing for real purpose promotes some academic gains, a stronger connection to the school, and an increase in both student and teacher self-efficacy, in other words, we were on to something.
The students who created this work are seniors now, and I wonder if they remember our writing times together. I wonder if it helped them to enter high school a little more ready to face those changes because they got a chance to clarify their own middle school identities. Not sure I will ever know. But I know looking back at the teacher I was at that time, the passion has grown, and although I am not sure where it will lead, I am 100 percent sure that the road I have taken since creating that video is guided by what I knew to be true.
We all have a story to tell, and it is my job to create space, support, and opportunity for the young adults I work with now to share them. We all must live out loud.