#179: A “Workable” Solution

Today the English Department got together to figure out how to relieve a colleague of a student load of 217. That’s all I really have to say. The fact alone is enough. One of our colleagues was assigned 217 students. The obvious solution, hiring another teacher, is apparently out of the question. A school is given soContinue reading “#179: A “Workable” Solution”

#175: Arts and Crafts

We’re studying Romeo and Juliet and even though kids are, for the most part, up on their feet with scripts instead of sitting at their desks reading out loud, it’s a herculean struggle for them to read with any accuracy, enthusiasm, or understanding, and the kid who insists on playing Benvolio every single time alsoContinue reading “#175: Arts and Crafts”

#97: Doing the Extra Soul Credit

Is this worth any points? they ask. And I say, of course, but you won’t see them in the grade book; instead, you’ll feel them somewhere inside your head or your heart–that’s why we call it extra soul credit. Very few students are motivated by this. I don’t care. While I’m not opposed to enrichmentContinue reading “#97: Doing the Extra Soul Credit”

#81: The American English Teacher Addresses His Students About the Failed Lesson on Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle”

He announces a quiz over the Washington Irving story his students were supposed to have read in class on the previous day. The quiz is designed to efficiently assess what, if anything, they understood from their reading, dumb kinds of literal comprehension prompts, the type of which he rarely, if ever, gives: Explain why RipContinue reading “#81: The American English Teacher Addresses His Students About the Failed Lesson on Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle””

#78: The American English Teacher Wonders About the Effectiveness of Reading To His Students

My students love it when I read out loud to them. Well, that might be putting it on a bit thick. Let’s say instead that they prefer that to reading independently. I read out loud well and this guarantees at the end at least some level of certainty that every kid in the room hasContinue reading “#78: The American English Teacher Wonders About the Effectiveness of Reading To His Students”

#77: What I’m Doing While My Students Are Taking Standardized Tests

I’m writing poetry, of course. Early in the semester, I’ve got no grading to do and I’m unusually planned for the upcoming unit. My students are taking a standardized writing test for which they choose one dumb prompt from four dumb prompts in each of the four and only four dumb categories of writing thatContinue reading “#77: What I’m Doing While My Students Are Taking Standardized Tests”

#74: The American English Teacher is Worried about the Burnout of His Colleagues

Perhaps, they love teaching and learning. And while they may not love children just because they’re children, they love the idea of helping young people reach their full potential, navigate the waters of young adulthood, use their minds well, think about important things, become more humanely human. It’s all noble, noble, and good. And yet, something isContinue reading “#74: The American English Teacher is Worried about the Burnout of His Colleagues”

#73: Unstuck In Time (Don’t Know Much About History)

The student reading a William Stafford poem mistakes the 1930’s for The Civil War in America—when, you know, there were electric elevators. The first impulse, if only inside of a thought bubble, is to make fun, but the second, more reflective response is a deep sadness. The kid is unstuck in time and unstuck inContinue reading “#73: Unstuck In Time (Don’t Know Much About History)”

#58: Classroom Management

A student entered the classroom of my colleague with a rat. Really. The rat was traveling visibly underneath the boy’s clothing, around the stomach and the chest, up and down the sleeves and nestling in the wide birth of his hoodie hood. It made a girl scream. The lesson, whatever it was, is inevitably interrupted.Continue reading “#58: Classroom Management”

#54: The School Year Begins with a Crash of the Hard Drive

The School Year Begins with a Crash of the Hard Drive on which my entire life’s work as a teacher was “saved.” My technology guy, bless him, was able to retrieve nearly every last god-forsaken item– except any kind of organizational feature previously attached. So all perhaps one thousand assorted folders, documents, presentations, audio files,Continue reading “#54: The School Year Begins with a Crash of the Hard Drive”