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Showing posts from July, 2016

Recharging

There isn't a teacher that I know that doesn't spend the summer bettering him or herself in some way. One has been working on recertification. Another her master's degree. Another friend is developing a new course he will teach in the fall. The list goes on and on. 
And while all of us are working on making ourselves better this fall, one of the things that we are fortunate enough to be able to do during the summer is recharge. 
When I first started teaching, a dear friend of mine told me this: "We completely understand. We have other friends who are teachers, and we normally see them during the summer instead of the school year."
For many of us, our personal lives are set on the back burner during the school year. Our students' lives become like our own children's lives. We attend basketball games for our family and our students. We go to choir concerts, band concerts, and we find extra ways to show our "kids" that we care. And sometimes that m…

On Competition and Donald Trump, Jr.

Listening to Donald Trump, Jr.’s speech makes my blood boil.
There are a few points that need our attention.
1. Competition makes education better.
Browse Diane Ravitch’s blog post about the competition that has run rampant in Detroit Public Schools. She references Donald Cohen’s post, where he debunks the myth about competition increasing student achievement. Cohen concludes the following: “If charter schools were systematically outperforming DPS schools, these lessons would be easier to stomach in Detroit. But the city’s charter schools are rife with wasteful spending, double dipping, and insider dealing, and many have been allowed to operate for years despite terrible academic records.”
And let us not forget the Detroit Free Press’ exposé on charter schools. Many do not disclose how they spend public dollars, and the majority underperformed when compared to traditional public schools. Quoting the Free Press, public dollars were misused in ways such as: A Bedford Township charter sc…

Teaching Students to Plan for Life, Not Just Writing

Our teaching doesn’t end because students transfer or graduate, and sometimes the best planning we can help students do goes beyond an essay. 
A few weeks before the school year ended, a former student returned to see me. In fact, this was the fourth time he had tried to visit. Every other time that he stopped by, we couldn’t meet because of staff or PLC meetings. But this time, I was willing to drop everything to make it happen, even if it meant the septic inspector waiting a few minutes at my house.
I had this student during my second year of teaching. And he’s a student that, like so many students, disappeared abruptly. I don’t know all of the details of what went down, but I know that he had to transfer. In the classroom, he was genuinely friendly and positive. Towering over most other sophomores, he sometimes looked like he didn’t belong. Frequently absent, he often fell behind in his school work, but not once did he ever express disinterest or anger.
Sitting down with him tha…

Advocating Positively

This morning, Bill Tucker, director of the Eastern Michigan Writing Project, challenged us to write about a positive moment in our teaching lives and then to identify the values that this particular moment reveals. Stemming from Cathy Fleischer's teacher advocacy work, Bill shared that these positive stories can help inform others about what teachers really do. 





My best teaching moment of the 2015-2016 school year came after the year ended.


Unfortunately, I didn’t feel as if my students lived the writing process this school year. From events in my personal life (buying a house and planning for our wedding) and a mid-year job change, it seemed like there was so much going on, so many changes taking place, that I didn’t have time to focus on teaching, planning, and learning as much as I had in the past, let alone on helping students produce quality writing to the caliber I wanted.


Two times a year, our mentoring program sponsors an awards banquet where we honor student achievement to…