May 2012 Archives

I'm a "school mom" to two unrelated African American boys at my school. It's a term of endearment, and the card I use when I really want them to listen and do what I say. I code switch and speak to them in a tone and vernacular that they are accustomed to hearing at home. Sometimes, I just give them that look and they get the message. Being the only African American teacher in my school comes with an added, self-imposed responsibility. I feel I need to go the extra mile to help the black students assimilate to a school ...


A friend I used to work with nine years ago recently contacted me in response to my post Amber Alert: Teenage Boy Mentally Kidnapped by Gangs. He wondered if the 20-year-old man in the post who was killed in an apparent gang shooting was the same student he had taught in 2004 when the deceased was in 6th grade. The answer, unfortunately, was yes. I invited that friend, Faren D'Abell, to guest blog for me this week. Faren is a critical thinker and offers his thoughts on urban education from the perspective of an African-American man. Faren is a former ...


Since NATO is a peacekeeping, treaty-making organization, I submit that it comes back to Chicago for another round of negotiations. With youth violence running rampant in minority, low-income urban communities across America, Chicago is the poster child for a new NATO mission: Not Another Teenage Obituary. Now that's the kind of summit no one but the crazy people would protest over....


Did you know that this week is the official Teacher Appreciation Week? If you didn't I'm not surprised. I taught in Chicago Public Schools for four years before I learned that such a "holiday" existed. In my fourth* year of teaching, I remember receiving a certificate from the then-CEO of schools Arne Duncan saying thanks. But every teacher in the building—in the entire district—got a certificate and the school clerk put ours in the staff mailboxes without any context to it being Teacher Appreciation Week. Some teachers tossed it immediately, but I held on to mine. I found ...


What would you say is the hardest part of teaching? For me, it is lesson planning. It takes me on average six hours a week to plan instruction for the nine science units I teach each year. It's not just the writing of the plans that is laborious; it's the intellectual contemplation that goes into it. I must figure out ways to make my instruction clear and engaging. I have to be skilled at knowing when to skip portions of the curriculum and supplement other parts on my own. I must also differentiate the content, pedagogy, and assessments based on ...


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