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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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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 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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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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Jan 24 2011

Fresh Idea for a Fresh Beginning?

Just like that, our first semester ended, almost as soon as it had started, last Friday. And, just like that, Spring 2011 begins tomorrow. As they say, “no rest for the weary.” Objectively-speaking, last semester did not go that well. I certainly had an interesting situation, given my more-than-5-week absence from school due to grand…

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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


“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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A number of people are up in arms now that a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision–which determined that teachers working toward, but not yet at, full certification could not be considered “Highly Qualified” under NCLB rules–was, in essence, papered over by Congress after it inserted a provision in a resolution that rendered alternative-track teachers…

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Jan 08 2011

2 Lessons from Week One of 2011

It would be ideal if I could say that I’ve had a fresh start to the new year–that 2011, like every new year, somehow ushers in a revitalized phase of teaching and learning.  But the reality is that my first week back (after break, and after my 5-week jury duty term) has been hellish. But…

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What does a teacher do with winter break? In many jobs, a fortnight vacation is elusive. Teachers, then, might be “lucky.” But no matter how “lucky” it might be to have an extended break, the truth is that it is sorely needed. If anything, the break is a time for reflection. Though I’m surrounded, at…

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Dec 23 2010

Education’s David v. Goliath

If we want to create lasting student-centered reform, we should focus less on teacher contracts and more on state-level legislation—because that is where most of the “action” happens for schools. This is the general point that Emily Cohen and Kate Walsh of the National Council on Teacher Quality make in a recent Education Next article.…

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weighing evidence

One of a grand juror’s primary responsibilities is to evaluate the credibility of evidence presented by a prosecutor. Can one trust what the witness is saying? Were there any inconsistencies in the statement? Additionally, a grand juror must factor in the type of evidence involved: is it “direct” (e.g. eyewitness account or offender’s confession) or…

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Dec 06 2010

The Dominoes Fall in DC

It’s hard to feel much hope for school reform in DC after the triple whammy of forced departures: First, Mayor Adrian Fenty, perhaps the first to so faithfully link his political fortunes to the fate of education in DC. Second, DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee, perhaps the most hard-charging of school district leaders to walk the…

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Nov 28 2010

Thank You and a Request

Two things: Thank you, Teach For Us. Will you donate to Teach For Us? ***** To the first, I have 10 reasons to thank Teach For Us: (1) Thank you for helping me decide—by offering the honest, and at times raw, blogs that populate your site—to join Teach For America. Through spending hours clicking through…

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Nov 23 2010

The Achievement Gap≠Resource Gap

Warning! What you’re about to read is counterintuitive. But here goes: our public education system does not need more money to close the achievement gap. In America, we already spend a boatload of money on education. Based on OECD data, we spend $11,301 per pupil annually in secondary education.  Let’s put that in perspective: This is…

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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 15 2010

“Sub-Proof” Lesson Plans?

After spending 8+ hours on a Sunday, I’ve finally learned how difficult it is to prepare substitute lesson plans. As I’ve described, tomorrow I begin a grand jury commitment that will last until winter break begins. Because I have a “hands-off” sub in my classroom, I need to prepare 5 weeks of stuff for my…

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

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