A Blog Covering D.C. Education [ABCDE]

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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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As standardized tests descend upon the K-12 institutions across the District of Columbia–in the form of the DC Comprehensive Assessment System (affectionately, “DC CAS”)–I find myself amazed by the entire show. Here are 4 key points: Standardized tests reveal ironies. Standardized tests create stress. Standardized tests induce sleep. Standardized tests bring out the best in…

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This is a follow-up to my first “Economics and Education” post (available here).  In it, I compared the weak school culture that many poor schools exhibit to the deflationary spirals that countries in economic crisis often experience.  One of the major points I made was that schools could get “stuck in a rut” of poor…

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Mar 24 2010

On Territory

One thing that I’ve observed throughout the year is that students at my school like marking out their territory (theme song for this post here. The Joakim Remix is appropriate too).  Like marauding packs of wolves, they stake their claims on various pieces of school and community property.  Pencils, pens, markers, whiteout, spray paint–students will…

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This is the first in a three-part (maybe more?) series that applies economic theory to aspects of education.  I was not inspired to do this by anyone or anything.  I am not “forcing” the connections either.  Instead, this series recognizes the fact that when I think of issues in education I often think in terms…

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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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I Rhee-cently read this piece by Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools.  I suggest you Rhee-d it too.  Rhee-ly.  I Rhee-lize that I haven’t commented on a “macro issue” in a while; with Rhee’s help, I make my Rhee-turn now. (No more word play.) Rhee’s thesis is bold, but gave me…

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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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Despite all the (wonderful) talk I hear about 21st-century skills, standards-based education reform, the Teaching and Learning Framework, one major conversation that I think we ignore is the one centered on the physical environment in which our students learn.  No matter how good a school is at staying on top of the latest pedagogical best…

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Dec 04 2009

An NCLB Primer and Case Study

A few weeks ago, I had to put aside the lesson that I was doing on author’s purpose in order to clear up a misconception that a student was attempting to spread in my classroom.  AH complained about how ridiculous it was that so many students in our class were failing.  She argued that teachers were…

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When I asked my students to free-write about what they were thankful earlier this week, I noticed that many of them mentioned that they were “thankful for living another day.”  Although oftentimes people say this as an expression, I know that many of my students mean this literally. One of my students just lost her…

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Nov 17 2009

Falling (Down the Rabbit-Hole)

Right now, I feel like Alice when she dropped down the rabbit-hole into Wonderland: “in another moment, down [I] went… never once considering how in the world [I] was to get out again… Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end!… Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so [I]…

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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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Nov 03 2009

An Attendance Heat Map

In the past, I’ve talked about the power of visualizations.  I think there is so much that a simple image can convey that mere words can’t.  I don’t have a box and whisker plot today, but I have a stunningly-simple “heat map” that gives you an idea of the pervasive attendance problem in my classroom…

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Oct 18 2009

A Picture (Worth a Thousand Words)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I say, “true.”  But I also say that there is actually something more powerful than a picture worth a thousand words.  That would be a picture worth a thousand words and some words to accompany that picture. Before the words, the picture:

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There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

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Oct 04 2009

A RIF Shift

Something unbelievable just happened.  Yes, I’m still in disbelief.  I still haven’t fully processed my thoughts.  I keep trying to catch my breath, but my breath keeps on running away. One simple phone call after lunch this beautiful Sunday afternoon changed my whole perspective for the year…

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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 24 2009

Teacher Rally @ DCPS HQ

The controversy in DCPS is coming to a head.  A September 18 memo to principals with instructions on how to carry out the reduction in force (RIF) was leaked to the web yesterday.  Today, Michelle Rhee declared that the cutbacks were caused neither by mismanagement nor malice. This afternoon, a teacher rally was staged outside…

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Sep 20 2009

Heads Will Roll

(The theme song for this post is here. Listen to it.) At the moment, the DC Public Schools are in trouble.  After a hiring spree that on-boarded over 900 teachers this summer (bringing the number of teachers to about 4,000), DCPS has discovered that it needs to cut up to $40 million out of its…

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Sep 10 2009

Finally, A Placement!

Only yesterday, I was lamenting the fact that I was still unplaced.  Well, it turns out the wait is over: I will be reporting to a high school tomorrow morning.  The 5 weeks and 5 days that I’ve spent in DC waiting for a placement has finally come to an end.  Hopefully, what that means…

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Some may find this strange, but today I reached out to DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee by email, her preferred form of communication (according to this Time article, she answered 95,000 emails in her first year as Chancellor!).  I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response within an hour.  She’s the real thing, really. To explain…

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Jul 05 2009

Michelle Rhee: American Character

I recently learned that Michelle Rhee, the (controversial) Chancellor of the DC Public Schools, was chosen to be the second profile in Tom Brokaw’s “American Character Along Highway 50″ documentary (watch the short segment here).  It’s hard for anyone not to be fascinated by her push to fix DC Schools, but I also look up…

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

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