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Aug 03 2010

“Now is the Time”

Summer brings with it transitions of various kinds. First, a climatic transition, in which the lesson is learned that there is a direct correlation between clothes worn and sweat excreted.  Second, a mental transition, from a state of pure focus to one of less-than-pure-and-more-like-relaxed focus (“it’s summer-time!”).  Third, a physical transition, away from the spaces…

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I’m on a boat.  Well, not yet, but soon. For the next 10 days, I will be on a cruise in the Galapagos Islands, where I will be tracing the thought process that led Charles Darwin to his theory of evolution.  The islands have risen slowly, over time, out of the volcanic hot spot that…

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Jun 12 2010

A Premature Goodbye

One letter changed everything.  An Assistant Principal (AP) had entered my classroom with the letter and solemnly handed it to me.  At 3:15pm on Friday, I learned that I had been excessed by my school. The explanation from the administrator went like this (note: I am taking serious liberties in paraphrasing): “Our school enrollment numbers…

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I’m apparently doing too much these days.  My classroom is chugging along, despite the massive end-of-the-year truancy problem that our school must somehow cope with.  Yet, because I am administering a final exam that takes place over the course of three days, my students are easily irritable.  One recent comment annoyed them to no end.…

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May 26 2010

On a Series of Unfortunate Events

I look forward to reading Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events this summer.  This is a book series that many of my students read and enjoy.  I think I will connect with the book too; I’ve recently experienced my own series of unfortunate events. O, hear, hear! Let me tell you a tale about…

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“Mr. K, why you always gotta have everything for a solution [sic]!?” -Groaning student responding to teacher’s suggestion that she stop complaining about the rain on the National Mall and instead share a spot under the teacher’s umbrella. ***** “They don’t even let you put your head down; they make you pick it up! And,…

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May 05 2010

A Dagger in My Teacher Armor

It came without warning.  I was certainly unprepared and, moreover, shocked that a student like RT could utter those words from his mouth. Near the beginning of 4th period, while instructing my ancy, heat-distressed students (it has been well above 80 degrees this entire week and the school doesn’t switch the the A/C on until…

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May 04 2010

A KWL Interlude

As part of a final synthesizing assignment in one of my grad school classes, three of my classmates and I were tasked with creating a slam poem inspired by and modeled after “What Teachers Make” by Taylor Mali (I’d say the best slam poem around):

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Doug Lemov, managing director at the Uncommon Schools–which, along with KIPP and Achievement First, ranks among the highest-performing charter school networks in the country–came to our last Professional Development Saturday, where he led a 2-hour session focused on Strong Voice, one of the techniques that he has discovered great teachers use consistently in their classrooms…

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Apr 29 2010

A Runner-to-Runner Conversation

KN is a budding track and cross country star at my school.  Furthermore, she is one of the half dozen or so students whom I have had the pleasure of teaching since the beginning of the year (i.e. across both semesters).  Slender, petite and self-motivated, she exudes the vibe of a dedicated runner. That KN,…

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Apr 11 2010

The Beauty of Grading

Part of the beauty of grading is the unpredictability of what the teacher encounters.  The “best” students will sometimes do the stupidest things: ES, for instance wrote, “you was not hear” for a Do Now on the day I feigned a migraine and stayed home in order to evade a burnout (shh! Don’t tell anyone!). …

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We found ourselves in a magical place: a school where the disruptive signals of cell phone communication would not reach.  A location so pure that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile bars exist solely in one’s dreams.  Instead of electronic beeping, we heard the soft and steady pitter patter of rain on the roof of the classroom. …

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Feb 26 2010

Cradling the Community

I’m slowly feeling like a part of my local community.  I care about local politics, I am concerned about local issues and I am participating more in whatever forums I can.  This slow increase in civic engagement makes me happy.   It also makes me understand the value and impact of TFA’s mission. ***** I recently…

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Who knew that delegation to students in the classroom would actually improve management?  Up until this week, every bone in my body shouted to me that allowing my students to carry out any of the responsibilities traditionally held by the teacher would create a more peaceful classroom.  Yet, with the new semester, I figured it…

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Jan 21 2010

On Disasters

This time around, I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve talked endlessly about the physical learning environment (here and here).  I’ve talked about how I will endure anything that doesn’t affect my personal safety/health.  In fact, I’ve said that I feel safe at my school.  But never did I think that my physical safety/health…

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Jan 13 2010

The Dragon in the Classroom

My roommates thought I was exaggerating again just to make my story sound more jaw-dropping (we teachers always like to boast superlatively about the most inconsequential of things).  At the time, I suspected they were right.  There really was no way my classroom could have been 130 degrees hot.  I knew I had a good…

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Teaching is hard; teaching while taking grad school classes is even harder.  But I like to look on the bright side of things.  Reflecting on all the grad school readings I’ve done this semester, I can say that there is at least one idea that I’ve taken directly from one of the texts we’ve read…

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Nov 13 2009

Be a Teacher, But Be a Person, Too

While I can honestly admit that my pedagogy/instruction has been at somewhat less than an ideal level, I realize that a teacher needs to do much more than simply be a purveyor of knowledge.  In fact, after 5 weeks in the hot seat as a new teacher, I’m beginning to think that I haven’t chanelled…

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Oct 31 2009

A “Just Right” Library

The generosity and support have been unbelievable.  Every day, I come to school and find a big stack of boxes precariously perched on my pulled-out metal mailbox or scattered like confetti in the mail room.  The secretary gives me a daily update on the number of packages that have arrived.  One morning, the principal pulled…

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Oct 25 2009

Building Street Cred

Every effective teacher needs street cred.  Most students will consider with suspicion anything a teacher without street cred says.  I mean why shouldn’t they? Street cred means proving to your students (especially the ones that are–no joke!–21 years old) that they should truly consider you a teacher, as someone whose advice and ideas are worth…

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Oct 20 2009

A Letter Assignment and a Response

I recently taught my students how to write formal letters.  As a homework assignment, I asked them to draft a letter addressed to Michelle Rhee, on a topic of their choice.  Students wrote about a number of things, including broken windows, “mice turds in the back of the class,” the disgusting cafeteria, the Reduction in Force,…

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Bowties are such wonderful things.  In a previous post, I mentioned that I was contemplating busting out my bowtie collection.  What kept me from wearing this wonderful accessory was that I was never sure how my students would perceive me.  I am enough of an “outsider” as it is; there really should be no reason…

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Oct 04 2009

Pink Friday

Friday was a tumultuous day in the DC Public Schools.  388 DCPS employees received pink slips, including 229 teachers.  Hawk One, which was experiencing financial problems, went bankrupt Thursday night, leaving DCPS schools with no security guards during a tension-fraught day.  Due to the sensitivity of the firings that took place all across the district,…

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Sep 28 2009

The National Book Festival

Despite the steady downpour, the people came in droves.  A sea of umbrellas stretched over the entire soggy expanse.  Assembled together on the Mall, thousands of bibliophiles milled about at the 2009 National Book Festival. I had the opportunity to catch the tail-end of the magnificent day for book lovers all over.  And I was…

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Sep 26 2009

Babbles with a Budding Barber

Earlier, I thought that girls had a better fashion sense than boys.  But a recent conversation with a male student shows me that boys consciously think about style, too.  CG, a tall, lanky student with spiky hair, asked me a question out of the blue: “Mr. K, can I give you a haircut?” I couldn’t…

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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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