The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year to reflect on all of the good things in life, from “raindrops on roses to whiskers on kittens”—and everything else in between!

To celebrate, we asked four exemplary English language arts teachers to share their favorite things about education, including their favorite subjects to teach, their most valuable classroom resources, and the best teachers to follow on social media.

Excited to see what they have to say? Let’s jump in!

Melissa Smith

Melissa Smith is an English teacher from Huntersville, North Carolina. She is the creator of the #TeachLivingPoets Twitter hashtag and the manager and editor of Her work is focused on complicating the canon, supporting teachers, and empowering students through poetry. You can find Melissa on Twitter and Instagram at @MelAlterSmith.

What are your favorite things to teach?

My favorite thing to teach is anything that gets students actively engaged and critically thinking. Getting students in groups to solve a problem, or to discuss a text, and whole-class conversations are some of my favorite days. The lessons where learning happens organically from students discussing and collaborating with each other are the days I consider to be the most memorable.

Specifically, I love to teach poetry by living poets, which is why I started the hashtag #TeachLivingPoets and the website Our mission is to complicate the canon and empower students through poetry.

What are your favorite classroom resources?

I love my classroom library,, and Split This Rock's The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Who are your favorite teachers to follow on social media?

#TeachLivingPoets (of course), #aplitchat created by @TalksWTeachers (because I teach AP Literature), the North Carolina English Teachers’ Association, and the creators of #DisruptTexts: Tricia Ebarvia, Julia E. Torres, Dr. Kim Parker, and Lorena Germán.

Ryan Chapman

Ryan Chapman has been teaching for 15 years and continues to learn alongside his students. He is an aspiring poet and loves to include comics and art within the English classroom. Ryan's passion is for students to understand that literature has the power to facilitate a better understanding of both themselves and their world. You can find Ryan on Twitter at @APLit_Teacher.

What are your favorite things to teach?

My favorite things to teach are the classic novels Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I also enjoy teaching poetry.

What are your favorite classroom resources?

I love watching my students use Canva as they create their own magazine articles and covers. Canva is a free browser-based tool that lets users of all skill levels build graphic design projects using a simple drag-and-drop system.

Who are your favorite teachers to follow on social media?

Trevor Aleo and Susan Barber!

Jeremy Rinkel

Jeremy Rinkel is a highly certified high school English teacher with an endorsement in History and Social Science. His goal is to inspire students, teachers, and anyone he comes into contact with to be lifelong learners. Jeremy believes education is the key to solving our world’s problems. He is currently teaching coding, 3D printing, and other STEM-related activities in his English classes. He also loves learning and teaching with new cutting-edge technology and apps, including TikTok and Snapchat.

You can find Jeremy on Twitter at @RinkelJeremy, on Instagram at @jrinkelteacher, and on TikTok at @jrinkelteacher. His website is

What are your favorite things to teach?

I have taught a variety of subjects, from Government and Psychology to Basic English and Speech. Currently, I teach high school English. My favorite books to teach are To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Outsiders, and Tuesdays with Morrie. I love teaching with technology, so I've recently downloaded the app TikTok, and I've been posting grammar lessons and chapter summaries for Of Mice and Men on my account. You can visit my website, The TikTok Teacher, to learn more!

What are your favorite classroom resources?

I use many websites and blogs as well as my professional learning network (PLN) on Twitter for resources and information on a variety of subject areas. A couple of blogs I follow are Teach Better and Practical Ed Tech.

This year, I have a 3D printer, so I've been teaching design thinking and problem-solving in the English classroom. I’ve highly relied on a group of teachers that use the #3dprintedu hashtag on Twitter.

My students have been reading a lot about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. I've challenged students to create prototypes of possible solutions. You can see a portfolio of their work on this website. I’ve also challenged students to create user manuals for a variety of coding apps and tutorials. In addition to the manual, students were required to code a possible solution or tell the story of one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Who are your favorite teachers to follow on social media?

I follow a variety of teachers and groups on Twitter. Here are some of my favorites in no particular order: Vicki Davis, Lindsay Zilly, Ken Wallace, Adam Welcome, Jon Markowich, Scott Nunes, Robert Dillion, Andrew Arevalo, the Teach Better Team, and the Illinois Digital Educators Alliance.

Melissa Pilakowski

Melissa Pilakowski teaches 11th-12th grade English language arts in Nebraska, including dual credit classes in composition. She's an advocate for game-based, blended, and experiential learning, and she consistently works to create authentic and engaging learning experiences. As an ELA teacher, she's also passionate about improving reading, writing, and vocabulary practices in the classroom. Follow her on Twitter @mpilakow, and join her on Thursday nights as she moderates the #games4ed chat. You can check out her blog at Technology Pursuit. Melissa also writes for the OnEducation podcast team.

What are your favorite things to teach?

Currently, my college composition seniors are drafting closing arguments after researching the Adnan Syed case (featured on the Serial podcast) or the Curtis Flowers case (featured on the In the Dark podcast). It's a research paper that the students become passionate about as they analyze the evidence and strive to understand what really happened. Students email me updates about the cases even after they've graduated!

What are your favorite classroom resources?

Twitter is my #1 resource. Fellow teachers there have pushed my thinking and sometimes challenged my beliefs of what teaching "should be." For language arts specifically, I turn to writing from some epic teachers: Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher, Michael W. Smith, and Allison Marchetti.

Who are your favorite teachers to follow on social media?

My favorites on social media? Where do I start? I'm always inspired by my friend Michele Huiken, who teaches middle school language arts. Others that have shaped my teaching beliefs include Mike Washburn, Glen Irvin Flores, Dave Blanchard, Steve Isaacs, Matthew Farber, Noa Lahav, Rachelle Dene Poth, and so many others. I could list a hundred names, and I would still be leaving some out.

What are your favorite things about English language arts education? Let us know in the comments below!