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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 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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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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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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Nov 03 2010

Dream Deletion

Lately, I’ve been having the most exquisite dreams while sleeping. Ironically, they’re exquisite for reasons I can’t even describe.  More accurately, I can’t seem to remember anything specific about any of them. I just know that they are good. I know that they are good because I feel a moment of dread when my alarm…

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Oct 12 2010

While You Were Out…

while you were out

Taking a day off from work is supposed to be relaxing.  For teachers, however, a day off can create just as much stress as a day on. Why is this the case? Let me tell you. Teachers, as people who are, generally, worriers, find it unsettling to leave their students and their classrooms under the…

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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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Sep 04 2010

Pondering The Practice Process

One of the unforeseen positive outcomes of participating, as a “teacher-blogger,” in a recent Education Sector policy panel was that I met some amazing teacher-bloggers. Dina Strasser over at The Line always has insightful posts on various topics in education.  Recently, I read a guest post on her blog by Kathleen Cushman–whom Dina proclaims is…

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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 29 2010

Overheard in a DCPS Classroom…

“Mr. K, what am I supposed to do?  There ain’t no more desks.” -Tardy student, observing that her tardiness led to the denial of an opportunity to find a good desk in the classroom. This first week has been somewhat of shock to my system–albeit a positive one. Having just finished a semester in which…

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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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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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welcome banner

I could tell that, as soon as he walked into the room, his real-life physical stature aligned extraordinarily well with his prominence in the Obama administration. His arrival, too, elicited a collective sigh of relief from the crowd crammed so tightly within the space that four sound-proofed walls had created. We really wanted to see…

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I can best describe the end of my school year as bittersweet.  I went into the last week or so knowing that I had been excessed and would no longer call my school home.  As a result–as with my last days in college–every moment felt like one of those “what-if-this-is-the-last-time?” moments.  I said goodbye to…

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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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The second of my five “core” classroom posters (how education pays; The 3 Rs: Be Responsible, Respectful, and Responsive; our class’ “Big Goal”; our motto, “Work Hard…Get Bright!”; and a guiding principle, “Don’t be afraid to take risks or make mistakes!”) had fallen off the wall when I entered the classroom yesterday morning.  Perhaps this…

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

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