Dale, a middle school teacher from North Carolina, found a way to deal with a pet peeve: kids who blurt things out during class. I told them the story of when I was a kid and worked on a hog farm. At feeding time, I would dump the bucket of feed in the trough and open the gate to let the hogs in. When the hogs start to eat they snort, and when one snorts all of them snort. I have been telling my class that they remind me of the hogs. When one starts to talk, all of them ...


When elementary school teacher Pigs talks about being accident-prone, she's not kidding: This lesson was about grabbing your reader's attention at the beginning of a piece of writing. We had covered the usual dialogue, sounds, and description....I had moved into action. My kids are heavily into tetherball when the temperature allows us to go out to recess, and I thought it would make a pleasing example for an action beginning. I should have stopped with the writing of the beginning, instead of the acting out of the serving of the tetherball. "I tossed the ball high into the air," ...


Mrs. Riz, a veteran special education teacher, writes about her initial puzzlement over a student's sudden cycle of emotional ups and downs. Then she found out from the student’s grandmother that the girl had been on and off her meds since the start of the school year because her mother hadn’t gotten around to getting the prescription refilled. Though a gentle-seeming woman, Mrs. Riz has harsh words: When [the student] is "off," our school day is often horrific. She certainly doesn't learn a damn thing on those days or weeks. ... I should not be made to babysit kids ...


What do you do when 150 middle schoolers eat lunch in a space designed for 100? At the school where First Year Teacher (actually now a second-year teacher) works, the solution is simple: install a stoplight. They mechanically judge the noise level, turning yellow when the level is getting "too loud" and then turning red and making a screeching sound when it judges the level officially "too loud". When I got to the cafeteria on the first day of school I watched the teachers circle this thing curiously. We all eyed it suspiciously and waited. Sure enough, it was another "system"...


Why do so many young teachers leave the profession? TeachWonk argues that the problem starts right at the top. None of our administrators seem to care about teacher morale. After all, it was our superintendent, Dr. Evil, who set the tone when he famously said, "Professional educators are principals and above" and went on to refer to teachers as "Service providers." Even given the not-so-pastoral relationship between administrators and teachers, that quote is so baldly hostile it's hard to imagine that it was taken in context. But perhaps the proof is in the pudding: TeachWonk says that new teachers in ...


Ramblin' Educat came up with a new way to keep her students engaged -- turning handouts into would-be paper airplanes, with kids answering one question, folding the paper and launching it in the general direction of a classmate, who'd unfold it, answer the next question, and so on. Of course, the best-laid plans... You just can't ever pick what part of a lesson will fail, do you? You'd have picked the throwing of airplanes, no? No. We can't fold airplanes. They asked if they could just throw the paper. (From Ramblin' Educat.)...


Even as their enrollment numbers soar--and their influence grows--AP courses seem to be coming under growing scrutiny lately. The workload is impressive, sure, but is this really the most constructive approach to secondary education? In this vein, Dan McDowell of A History Teacher offers a thoughtful post on the internal dilemmas of an AP teacher. A number of the students in his AP World History class are already “feeling the strain,” he says, and this has got him thinking about the pressures facing students today and his own role in reinforcing the framework of meritocracy. On one level, I feel ...


The Mad Teacher recently went to the first faculty meeting of the year. As a career-changer, long, tedious meetings aren't anything new to her, but there's one big difference at her school: You can't bring your knitting. Twenty years in social work, with people's lives sometimes literally hanging in the balance with what we figured out in our meetings... Two thirds of the therapists in the room would have some crochet or knitting or something in hand during the meeting. But it is just out of the question at Smallsville High. Is it every school in America that feels like ...


Another career changer, North Carolina writing teacher Waterfall, points out what she wryly calls "another teaching 'plus'": On days like today, when I'm really tired and my sinuses are acting up and my patience is short, I tend to shuffle off into my own little dark corner of the world and feel sorry for myself. In Cubicle Land, it was easy to do this. I would wallow in my depressing little stew for days on end, feeling miserable and hating my life. When you're teaching school, it's next to impossible to behave in such a self-absorbed way. This is a ...


At English teacher Awkward Silence's high school, everyone's preparing for an outside visitor: Tomorrow a big-wig comes to school. Her appearance is to observe us, because the second week is always a good time to see teachers at their best. (from Suspension of Ego.)...


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