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May 30, 2012

For At-Risk Students, School Mother Knows Best

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...

May 09, 2012

Administrators: Don't Hate--Appreciate!*

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 school...

March 21, 2012

Parent-Teacher Conferences: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

She was so mad that her face was red, eyes tearing, and imaginary puffs of smoke were coming out of her ears. She didn't have an appointment with me, but there she was. In my classroom. Screaming. In my face. Why did you fail my child? I tried to explain. Why did you fail my child! After unsucces...

March 14, 2012

Ode to the Middle School Teacher

I'm told that there's a special place in Heaven for middle school teachers. I'm in no hurry to find out, but I hope it's true. First you love me. Then you hate me. Now you just don't care, except when your best friend decides to. So what I thought :P was a typo! Does that make me lame? You tol...

January 17, 2012

Wisdom From Dr. King Helps Center My Education Activism

Like many of you, I spent some time on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday reflecting on his life and legacy. I attended a commemoration service with my two little girls, and I listened to a choir sing the old Negro spirituals. I sang along and shed some tears. Like many of you, Dr. King is my h...

December 21, 2011

Teachable Holidays: Don't Separate Church and Education

It's the most wonderful time of the year: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa. On Christmas we celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ. At Hanukkah we celebrate the miraculous drop of oil that lighted candles for eight days in the Jewish Temple. On Kwanzaa we celebrate the miraculous strength of ou...

November 30, 2011

Teaching Trust With ... Skrillex?

Have you ever heard of Skrillex? No!? He's only the most awesomest electronic musician on the planet! But don't take it from me, let Edmond (not his real name) tell you. Edmond is one of my brilliant but socially awkward 6th grade science students, and for days he had been asking me if he could s...

October 19, 2011

Students, Hold Your Applause Until the End

My principal abruptly had her baby this weekend leaving the staff a bit in shock. One of my students just confided to me that he is gay. I couldn't sleep for two days worrying about a different student who ran away from home on the coldest, wettest night of the season. (Now found, he survived by p...

September 21, 2011

I Am Overweight: An Authentic Assessment

There, I said it: I'm 5'7'' and 198 pounds. That makes me a good 30 pounds overweight. My supportive husband calls me "voluptuous," but my middle school Advisory students say I'm "chunky." My mother calls me "healthy" and "big boned," but my girlfriends tell me I've got a lot of "junk in my trunk."...

September 07, 2011

I Became a Teacher on September 11th

We were making our final descent toward LaGuardia airport in New York when my husband nudged me from his window seat. "Look at the Twin Towers," he said in awe. "They look so eerie from up here." I had taken the trip from Chicago to New York dozens of times and the aerial view of the vertical land...

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