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Showing posts from 2013

A Tale of Two Back to School Nights

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Excitement and enthusiasm were in the air as teachers in my new high school in a middle class neighborhood prepared their classrooms by decorating their bulletin boards, displaying student work, and straightening desks. Welcome messages abounded, Remind.com messages were sent, and we opened our doors to meet the parents.
I have done these events for 24 years, four times a year at my former school in South Central L.A. But this year’s Back to School Night left me reflecting, and perhaps shedding a tear.
First, my new parents were fantastic. They were friendly, enthusiastic, and supportive of the new ideas I bring to the school. I knew in them I would have allies to incorporate my findings from my Fulbright exchange in Finland earlier this year. Parent after parent nodded their heads and strongly affirmed that break time was important to students, teachers, and workers in general. They were excited to hear about the summer travel programs I had prepared.
As I looked at their warm and s…

Reign of Error Affirms That We Are Not Failures

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As a career classroom teacher, it has been a surreal experience to live trough the transformation of my profession. Where once upon a time teachers were vaunted, valued and respected, we are now the primary culprits for society's ills such as poverty, unemployment, and crime.

In this blog, I have written about the folks who have let schools down long before education reform came along, the same folks who blame teachers for "failing schools" yet who never lifted a finger to intervene against budget cuts, layoffs, the siphoning of higher performing students and resources to charters, etc.

There is one national figure who has consistently pointed out the contradictions in the education reform movement and battled valiantly against the education reformers. That person is education historian Dr. Diane Ravitch and her latest book, Reign of Error, is a must read for anyone interested in knowing the truth about what is happening in public schools today.

It was with great antici…

On Willful Defiance...

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It is the dream again. The one where you're standing at the front of a classroom and a roomful of defiant students is disobeying your every instruction, laughing at your every command for order. It's a nightmare actually, and many teachers have it on a recurring basis. I'm sure Freud or any other psychoanalyst would have something to say about the root causes, but I think it boils down to fear. Teachers have an enormous responsibility for the welfare and education of each and every one of their charges. But when it comes down to it, the vast majority of time, teachers are alone in the classroom, outnumbered 35 to 1.

In real life, most would not guess that I suffer from this nightmare as I am one of the stronger presences on my gritty, urban middle school campus. I am a veteran of the curse-outs, pushes, shoves, death threats and punches. Flying doors that smack you in the face? Not me, I keep a three foot distance from the range of doors. Water bottles thrown down the sta…