Accident-prone elementary teacher Pigs describes her latest classroom mishap. I was conferencing with a student about their writing, and I tend to abuse personal space when kids are at my table. Their little story was really quite amusing, and I wanted to laugh to demonstrate my enjoyment of their craft. Since it was a quiet writing time in my class I tactfully kept my mouth closed and did the church laugh. You know, the slight blowing of air through the nose whilst smiling with mouth? Yeah. Well, I puffed a dry little crusty right onto their paper. That's right. I ...


Noting the persistence of racially tinged incidents at his school, A History Teacher talks about what he's tried to do in his classroom. Tolerance is an ongoing theme all year long, but in both my courses I spend a considerable amount of time in one unit exploring this issue. In U.S. History it comes during the Civil Rights unit and in World History it takes place in my Holocaust unit. A couple years ago, to my amazement, I actually had a student argue that the facts I was teaching regarding the Holocaust were wrong. He claimed the Holocaust was ...


Ms. Frizzle shares a high point from a recent professional development day at New York's American Museum of Natural History: The highlight of the morning and perhaps the whole day was when astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson came out to say hello to all of us. He is everything I need my children to know about: an African-American scientist, a product of the NYC public schools, charming, a good speaker, a populizer of science, funny. I think I may invite him to be a science expo judge. He will probably say no, but maybe he will know of other people who ...


Teacher Magazine blogger Hanne Denney writes of preparing for a formal classroom observation by her principal. She says experience has taught her not to be too sensitive about criticism, but still, she worries that things could go awry: I won’t be offended if she proffers criticism, unless it is something beyond my control. Like the fact that things don’t stay plugged in the wall, that the room is incredibly hot and lacks ventilation, that there are two students with emotional challenges that sometimes need breaks and diversions, or that the student who’s been absent for a week ...


Administrators sometimes like to call bits and pieces of documented student work "artifacts," presumably because they provide direct evidence that their kids are learning. But at Ms. Smlph's school, the name fits because they're apparently dug up at the last minute. At the end of the meeting, our school's three administrators, one of whom was only a PE teacher two weeks ago, stood up and plead for "artifacts," useless pieces of evidence they could stuff into a binder to present to the school district. It turns out this binder was supposed to be at the office at noon yesterday, and ...


As the handwringing over the New York City teachers contract continues, NYC Educator offers up a, shall we say, modest proposal. Suffice it to say that it has something to do with bringing some legitimate businessmen into the discussion. Naturally, I abhor violence. But why can't we have a mobbed-up union boss? And please don't lecture me about discrimination, because mobs now come from all over... Screw the cutesy television commercials that say how hard we work and how unappreciated we are. They cost us bazillions in dues, and just make the Daily News that much more vicious when decrying ...


Former Massachusetts teacher Diane Weir reacts to news of a high school student with a GPA somewhere north of 4.0 being turned away from taking a fourth AP class out of concern that she might be taking on too much. I realize that not all students could maintain such a high GPA with that sort of workload, but no student should be denied the chance to try. We wouldn't tell the athletes that they couldn't play a sport each season, even if we knew that they wouldn't play each equally well. Why then would we limit the scholars from ...


High school English teacher Erica Jacobs admits that she often believes she knows exactly what each student in her class is thinking. And every year, all it takes is a simple writing assignment -- to write an Hamletesque soliloquy that answers the question "who are you?" -- to remind her it's not true. What I find each year is that the adolescents who seem predictable in their yearning for independence and longing to burst free from the constraints of class, homework, high school, and home, are also longing to break from the constraint of conformity. When I read their soliloquies ...


Ms. Cornelius weighs in on Proposition 74, the controversial ballot measure in California that would lengthen teachers’ probationary period from two years to five and generally make it easier for schools to fire ineffective teachers. In her view, the measure avoids the real problems (and the real culprits): Incompetent teachers should be fired. ... But increasing the lagtime for tenure is only one tiny piece of the puzzle. Unspoken is the fact that those [incompentent] teachers were hired by someone, observed by someone (supposedly), and rehired by someone. Bad teachers do not pop out of nowhere. I don't see laws addressing ...


Philadelphia principal and former high school basketball coach Chris Lehmann reflects on the news that three-time WNBA MVP Sheryl Swoopes opted to come out of the closet earlier this week. To him, the mere fact that this sort of thing is still news explains why her announcement should be important to educators. And here's why this belongs on a blog about teaching... I've been the first adult that a student has come out to -- the 'test parent,' if you will. I've seen kids run away from their parents because they were afraid of the ramifications of telling them. ...


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