September 2012 Archives

Every now and then, I have students who are uncomfortable around me, like they are scared. During a teacher-student conference I have to ask them to pull their chair up to my desk a little closer. "I don't bite," I tell them. "I'm not a cannibal, though I've been accused of being one." Wait, wait, and let me explain: I imagine that African American women's infamous dislike of our kinky, tightly coiled hair goes back to the days of the African slave trade. Most black women at some period in our lives have either chemically processed our hair, added extensions ...


I would be hard pressed to find someone in Chicago who isn't relieved that the teacher strike ended on Tuesday night. After months of contentious negotiations and a seven-day walk-out, the spirit of old fashioned compromise finally set in. The Chicago Public Schools got a few reforms it wanted and the Chicago Teachers Union got a few policies it championed. Still, the process was hard for kids to comprehend, like watching angry parents fight. What happens when the fight's over? Even after the mom and dad have kissed and made up, the memory of the trauma and disruption often remains ...


For the past three days my morning drive to work has become a bit awkward at two stop signs. As I inch closer to the intersections near two different schools, I am beckoned by a throng of teachers in red shirts holding picket signs, chanting, and banging on the metal guard rails that line the sidewalk. They peer into my vehicle, smiling, asking me to honk if I support a teachers strike. I don't smile. I don't honk. I don't support. At first, my children on the second row of the minivan were startled. What's going on? Who are these ...


After months of negotiations and threats, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis announced that teachers will be striking on Monday. Lewis stated at a 10 p.m. press conference tonight that numerous unresolved issues led to the union's decision to walk out of contract negotiations. Among them, Lewis stated, were the need for "wrap-around services" that include more social workers in schools, a distrust of the new teacher evaluation system that uses student standardized test results, and the demand that laid- off teachers get priority placement into open positions within the school district. She said all of the union demands ...


I did it. Yesterday I publicly revealed my blog to my students. I set up the LCD projector and taught the Smiley-Face Trick of "Repetition for Effect" using my post about my second-grade Ms. White, who wrote me off. All four of my writing classes applauded at the end of the lesson. It was the greatest joy to share my writing as mentor text for my students. Before I could start, however, a student from each class advised me to revise my bio because I'm no longer a science teacher. They also told me to get rid of my outdated ...


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