High school teacher Ms. Cornelius discusses what happened when a military recruiter asked her to fill out some paperwork involving a former student. He said that one of my former students, let's call him Elvis, was interested in joining the Reserves after having made a previous commitment to the Navy, and he wondered if I "could just fill out this recommendation form?" ... So I very quietly said, "Sure, can I see your release form?" He looked at me. "What release form?" "The one that I need to see in order to release confidential information about a student, including a recommendation ...


Minnesota school technology director (and former Teacher columnist) Doug Johnson reacts to an essay written by a fellow school technologist entitled "When Teachers Don't Get It." In reality, Johnson writes, it's the techies that don't get it--"it" being what teachers have to do these days: The name of the game today is accountability. I have state standards to which I must teach. There are state tests that students must pass. Technology is not mentioned in either of these. My goals as a teacher are to make sure my students master the curriculum and pass state tests. My job depends ...


Recent postings by special education teacher Ms. Riz offer a unique and articulate glimpse into the emotional life of a dedicated educator. Last week, after one of her colleagues had been hit with a chair by a student, she reflected on the hidden toll of her profession: The reality of the dangers involved with working with emotionally unstable students hovers over us, ignored, unrecognized, dismissed ... until something like this happens. Then we are pulled into a swirling frenzy of emotion: worry, resentment, then angry resignation. What toll does this silent, pulsating sense of dread have on us? How does it ...


High school English teacher Fred the Fish delves into a critical issue in education policy: Is anyone else distracted by the colored rubber bands on your students' braces? I have trouble concentrating when they talk. I think I might have a seizure as the colors flash by. (Are we doing anything today?)...


We knew that schools were having a tough time hanging on to young teachers, but in a thoughful post on the difficulties of new educators, Mr. Lawrence shows just how desperate the situation can be: I know one young teacher (23?) who's actually trying to get pregnant just so she can get some time off. I know another who I see around town—and gives me plenty of information—and is trying to get into grad. school full-time just so she can quit teaching. Mr. Lawrence believes that part of the reason for young teachers’ unhappiness is that they "leave...


"They begin returning in October," high school teacher Erica Jacobs writes. The swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano? No, she's talking about former students. They are returning graduates of high school, walking the halls in search of former teachers, former classrooms, former teammates, and possibly in search of the ghosts of their former selves. Sometimes they are the class stars with 4.0 GPA’s and the lead in the spring musical. But more often than not, they are the disaffected ones who liked your class okay, but hated school in general, and forgot to turn in assignments. Or slept ...


In a moving post, TMAO, a junior high teacher in California, reflects on hearing that a former student of his is in jail after a stabbing incident. The news has hit him hard since he had watched this particular student go from resistance and failure to academic success in his class. Now his faith in the power of education is shaken: We failed this kid. We have enjoyed unprecedented success on my campus, and made great strides, but we failed this kid. Not in the way that speaks of falling through the cracks, or being allowed to not-learn. Somehow we ...


JHS Teacher, in her 9th year teaching -- you guessed it -- junior high school in California, discusses maintaining the difficult balance between having the freedom to teach the way you want to and ensuring every kid learns what they need to learn. What we all but Ms. G. decided was that no matter how we teach Response to Literature, or Literary Devices or whatever, we will use the short, multiple choice quiz from the Holt book for each section... It's not a bad way to make sure we are all teaching the same thing, even if we do go ...


Since so many teaching blogs are filled to overflowing with (valid) gripes about administrators, it was refreshing to see Mr. AB, a Teach for America educator from California, lavish what sounds like equally well-deserved praise on his principal. R--- is an almost daily helping presence in my practice: mediating conferences with behavior problems, making parent phone calls in Spanish, translating letters home, providing needed materials, observing in and offering constructive feedback on my classroom. It wasn’t until I discussed R--- with my mother and with other teachers that I realized how exceptional he is in this respect. My first ...


Hobo Teacher writes of spotting someone he takes to be a new or soon-to-be-teacher at a car dealership (where he had gone not to buy a car but to partake of the free drinks and cookies and, apparently, grade papers). How did he know she was new to teaching? Easy: Besides looking rested, she was reading a textbook about teaching methods. As if there is a recipe. You're teaching, not making a quiche. How do these books get written? After a teacher gets fed up and quits, do they go and write a book about how they thought it would ...


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