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May 22 2013

Overheard in Chipotle…

“You were a real nice teacher, Mr. K!” -T.R., former student, after chatting with me for the first time in 2 years.  I’m working in DC for the summer, and I’m living in the same neighborhood as before. This, of course, means the inevitable–bumping into students on the street. I was standing in line at…

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I’ve been away from this blog for a bit. I’m making that final push at the end of my first year of law school. Classes are over and my first exam begins within 48 hours. But I wanted to share something. As I was studying today, I received a phone call from BO. It was…

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Jul 29 2011

Letting Go of a Friend

I met it on day one of Institute, when I was as eager as I’d ever be to tackle the achievement gap, even though I had no idea how I might do so. It stood by my side, always loyal, even during the hardest of times, times when I felt like giving up (there were…

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I love the freedom of summer. This summer feels particularly unique because I know that I will be going back to the classroom as a student, rather than a teacher, this fall. But I’ll still be in my role as a teacher for a bit. A text conversation between a student and me shows that…

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Teacher: “Good morning, [custodian's name]! Sorry to bother you, but I have a request. Is there any toilet paper? The staff bathroom is out.” Custodian: “You know what? We’re actually really low on toilet paper right now. Like really low.” (awkward pause) Teacher: “And…?” Custodian: “And… Uhh, okay, let me go check the first floor…

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This time last year, I entertained this fantasy that, on the final day of school, I’d give an inspiring speech to my students about everything that they’d learned and how I wished them all the best in the future. That never happened; it won’t happen this year either. The school year, contrary to popular belief,…

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Several members of the District of Columbia Fire Department visited our school today to give a presentation on career options to the senior class. In short, joining DCFD is a way to secure a job and a future. I was pleasantly surprised by students’ attentiveness for a presentation that didn’t have much beyond the whole…

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Student 1: (proudly sharing cell phone photos with other students) That’s some Patron in my hands right there. See? See? Teacher: (concerned expression on face) Not good. Patron’s not good. How old are you again? And put that away! Student 1: (ignoring query and instruction) What do you prefer, Mr. K? Student 2: (loud interjection) BOOKS!…

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I can’t get away from education, even when I’m on spring break (500 miles from DC, by the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee). Here’s the story: Our goal was to hike inside the national park today, before becoming Nashville-bound tomorrow. But the traffic stopped us. For some reason, cars were bumper to bumper on a…

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Apr 12 2011

I Almost Cancelled Our Trip

studentreading

For a second, I thought about cancelling our trip. Independent reading time was over and I meekly made the announcement: “Okay, students, today we’re going to the local public library!” The outburst was overwhelming: “Oh naw! I ain’t going there!” “I’m not moving–sorry.” “Why the hell are we going there?” As the cacophony finally died…

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Student: (pleadingly) “Mr. K, I’m telling you, I don’t do anything but As! I just don’t do it!” Mr. K: (matter-of-factly) “I hear you. When I was a student I didn’t do anything but As, either…” Student: (dramatic pause and then an SMH) “You gettin’ me guh.” -Star student, attempting to gain some sympathy from…

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Mar 23 2011

On Doodling

I like doodling. It’s therapeutic. It’s fun. It’s a way to pass time. It’s creative. It’s helpful. When I doodle, I mainly draw geometrical shapes: ovals of all shapes and sizes; nested rectangles; all variety of triangles; my own made-up shapes. I confine myself to these basic figures because, let’s face it, I truly lack…

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Mar 11 2011

“I was walking down Georgia”

We’re currently reading literature from the Middle Ages as part of a unit on storytelling. The accompanying writing assignment is to write a modern-day ballad (a contemporary story that uses the format of a medieval ballad like “Lord Randall” or “Get Up and Bar the Door“). The 5 characteristics that we discussed are as follows:…

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Student 1: (frustratingly flops book on desk and gives evil eye to Students 2 and 3) “Excuse me!–I’m trying to read here. You’re being so VERBOSE!” Student 2: “Shut up. You’re not actually reading. Stop making such PRETENTIOUS comments!” Student 3: (long mumbling, incoherent ramble about how she is “guh” because of the intentional use…

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Mar 02 2011

On Black History Month

I’m not going to go into the politics behind Black History Month. Rather, I’d like to talk about how Black History Month influenced my school. There were two narratives for the month of February, one that was uplifting and one that was depressing. Uplifting: Our school incorporated a series of fantastic, truly unique events for…

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Feb 04 2011

The Peculiarity of 12th Graders

For whatever reason, I keep moving up the grade-level ladder as each semester passes: Fall 2009: 2 periods of 10th grade and 1 period of 11th grade English Spring 2010: 1 period of 10th grade and 2 periods of 11th grade English Fall 2010: 2 periods of 11th grade English and 1 period of Journalism…

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Jan 23 2011

A Resourceful, Humorous Student

While administering final exams, I was patrolling the classroom, checking to see whether: Reading passages were right-side-up, students were alert, students were not copying answers off of each other, and pens were moving. As I passed by BN, something hilarious caught my attention on the desk in front of her: BN’s “Ghetto Ass Notebook” AKA…

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Here is a potential set of assessment items for 9.LD-V.8. (“Determine the meanings of multiple-meaning words by using context.”), a DCPS ELA standard, that shows just how important context can be: “I just bought a case yesterday!” (1) If this statement were uttered by a college student, what sort of “case” would he most likely…

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Jan 17 2011

On MLK and Mountaintops

mlk_mason-temple

“I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” These were Dr. Martin…

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I’ve only really gone off the negativity deep end once. It was over something as seemingly inconsequential as paper (email me if you don’t remember my password). In reality, though, paper management makes all the difference in a school. It’s one part of the hidden infrastructure that allows a school to serve its purpose of…

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Nov 19 2010

You Can Find Me in the (Book) Club

It was my birthday recently. My students had heard this through the grapevine (with Facebook and the ubiquity of cell phones, the grapevine is super responsive). Because my birthday fell before a day off (Veterans Day), students were naturally curious about how I was going to celebrate. Apparently, clubbing is a logical option. Here’s a…

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Nov 09 2010

An Experiment: Remote Teaching

One week from now, I will be returning from my first full day as a grand juror in the DC Superior Court. The back-story is interesting. I received a jury summons in late July for a 5+ week September/October term. Realizing that I had been summoned to a grand, and not a petite, jury, I…

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“Come ON, Mr. K!–you’ve got a room full of black kids begging you to read and you’re going to deny them?!” – Student, utterly amazed that teacher would cut off independent reading block at 30 minutes. My students clearly know about stereotypes. The implied stereotype that this student refers to is that black students don’t…

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For as far back as I can remember being a newspaper-reader, Randy Cohen’s “The Ethicist” column in the New York Times has been a favorite weekly read. In it, Mr. Cohen provides pointed, and sometimes-snarky, ethical advice to reader-provided moral problems.  I enjoy reading “The Ethicist.” Though I don’t think his moral philosophy is necessarily…

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Aug 13 2010

20 Anecdotes on Failure

What causes students to fail? I don’t mean “fail” as in “I am going to fail geometry class”; rather, I mean “fail” as in “you are a failure in life.”  (Or maybe, “fail” as in FAIL blog.) I was spurred to think about this after noticing a brilliant, concise post that offers 20 reasons for…

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About this Blog

Really, "A Blog Covering Dilemmas in Education": A (former) English teacher's reflections…

Region
D.C. Region
Grade
High School
Subject
English

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