A Blog Covering D.C. Education [ABCDE]

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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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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americanteacher5edited

“Why do we value people who can shoot a ball through a hoop, or hit a baseball with a bat, or kick a soccer ball, but we don’t value our classroom educators?” Education Secretary Duncan posed this question before a screening of American Teacher, a new documentary that attempts to present, to the public, the…

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May 23 2011

A Student Raps About His Teacher

One of my students is an aspiring rapper. He’s so serious about music that he doesn’t want to go to college; rather, he’d like to make mixtapes and hit the rap circuit pronto. Recently, this student told me he’d been working on a rap in my honor (it is titled my first name). I laughed…

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TFA is lucky to have the support of many individuals and organizations. Catherine and Wayne Reynolds, two wonderful philanthropists, happen to be major supporters of TFA here in DC. They sponsor me and my classroom. Anyways, I was recently asked to write a reflection on my two years as a Teach For America teacher here…

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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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How far up the ladder of needs do we put education? Psychologist Abraham Maslow came up with this diagram to help us think about our innate needs as humans. One book I read this weekend got me thinking about where education fits into this hierarchy: Jon Krakauer’s Three Cups of Deceit, a short expose (a Byliner) that alleges…

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May 04 2011

Harnessing the Broader Community

One of my frustrations with public education today, at least as I’ve seen it here in DCPS, is that the schoolhouse is typically isolated from the community it was built to serve. Somewhere in the evolution of our public education system, systemic pressures built two silos of learning opportunities–those originating inside schools and those outside…

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Apr 28 2011

Problems at the Top

Today, I have another guest post from two educators responding to a recent Washington Post article on charter school leadership. I’ve certainly dithered on how much weight to put on school leaders in thinking about the bottom-line effect on student achievement. They are undeniably important, but to what degree, people will disagree. The question worth…

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The astute observer will have noticed the appearance of a few recent guest posts. This was not a coincidence. I’m trying to expand this blog’s scope a little bit. And I welcome all comers! So, if you have something to say about education, education reform (I guess it’s different?), TFA or any other cool thing…

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It is possible to fall into the trap of thinking that, because public education is a public service (that is, something provided to all people for free), it is something that all people actually receive in the same way and to the same degree. By this framework, we might see education as an intangible, invisible…

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One thing that bothers me is how, for some social problems, the “problem within the problem” is that people are not using the knowledge, resources, and strategies already available to solve them. For example, when it came to the “problem” of education, I discovered (as recently as last week) that many of my students were…

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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 11 2011

An Open Letter to DCPS…

Nearly 2 years on, IMPACT, DCPS’ pioneering teacher evaluation system, still has many kinks. Every day, I hear the draining talk of IMPACT this, IMPACT that: “My master educator just rated me ‘ineffective.’ Should I drink my sorrows away?” “Did I put a SMART objective on the board?” “I hope the master educator doesn’t come in during…

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Apr 01 2011

The Finland Phenomenon

One of the beauties of teaching and living in DC is that education is “big” here. The average person here “cares” about education. This is not to say that people elsewhere don’t “care.” But if we measure how much people care about education by tallying the number of education-related events, then one might rightly believe…

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DCPS made the front page of USA Today today. Unfortunately, it was for the worst of reasons. The headline reads: “When test scores soared in D.C., were the gains real?“ What follows is an in-depth report that highlights the controversy brewing around one Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus, a K-8 DCPS school. At over 4,300…

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Mar 27 2011

Sunday Rhee-ding

It’s funny–life is so “normal” with Chancellor Henderson now at the top that it’s as if Rhee was never here. Michelle Rhee has been out of DC and DCPS for quite some time now. Things are back to normal here, after the uncertainty over who would succeed her petered out. Our new Chancellor, Kaya Henderson,…

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Mar 13 2011

The Next “Survivor”?

SurvivorLogo

A fellow teacher forwarded me a hilarious email a few days ago. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s hilarious because it smacks so much of reality or because it is a vision of teaching taken to a parodied extreme: Next Season on “Survivor”… Have you heard about the next planned “Survivor” show? Three…

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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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Mar 09 2011

On the Race to College

I am, by virtue of being a 12th grade English teacher, in an interesting position. I am the last “obstacle” a student faces before s/he can walk across the stage and receive a high school diploma. Fail my class and fail to graduate on time. There are other ways by which I am in a unique spot.…

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Feb 25 2011

On the Influence of Parents

Over the past few months, I’ve fleshed out my own theory about why invested parents matter to a student’s success. One common view is that parents matter insofar as they provide the guidance and nurturing outside of the school building. In other words, they play a role analogous to the teacher in the classroom. This…

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Though I posted the sights and sounds of the summit, I didn’t get the chance to reflect on last weekend’s events. Much of the floating thoughts that I’d had got lost, sadly, in the haze of teaching (this week, after such a busy weekend, was not easy). But I do have 3 brief observations: (1)…

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one day

The TFA 20th Anniversary Summit was mind-blowing, both in scale and inspiration. In terms of scale, I’ve been to numerous events at the convention center, but nowhere have I seen one that has sprawled across so much of the center’s space. In terms of inspiration, I expected big things and got much more than that.…

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the Washington Post‘s Bill Turque wrote a piece yesterday highlighting the stark funding disparity between two DCPS schools spaced a mere 2.5 miles apart (the title to this post is a play on Jim Ryan’s Five Miles Away, A World Apart, which I suggested as winter break reading). School Without Walls is a pristine school,…

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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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taekukgi

As someone of Korean descent, I noticed something particularly interesting during President Obama’s State of the Union address last night: he referred to South Korea on 4 separate occasions–more than to any other country (even China, which was only mentioned thrice). According to Obama, In South Korea, teachers are revered as “nation builders“; South Korea’s…

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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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