UPDATE: Abstinence students still have sex at similar rates, recent study shows Last week's Teacher Magazine poll on schools' approaches to sex education brought back bittersweet memories. Memories of giggling at fake ovaries and being mortified at all the places that hair could grow. I learned much of my reproductive education not from my mother, a nurse who taught contraception courses in Taiwan in the early 1980s, but from the Montgomery County Public School system. As icky and super embarrassed as I felt about it in fifth grade, I was secretly relieved to have those weird things happening to my ...


More confessions: My assistant and I eat 90 percent of the candy folks send to our students. My boyfriend in Ukraine needs to call me almost every morning to wake me up for work. And on bad days, I cheer up by reading blog comments. As a second-year teacher, there are still a lot of bad days. Luckily, there are a lot of comments. Below are a few responses to comments. If anyone has any other questions (or comments), please feel free to leave a blog message or write me at [email protected] … I’m currently teaching English in ...


I lie. I cheat. And yeah, I steal. At least when it comes to my students. I admit, when my Teach for America program director comes to check my teaching, I tell the kids that she's there to observe their behavior. And sure, I drag my kids in after school to finish their assignments for general ed classes. And when I'm low on supplies, I'm not above nabbing a ream of white paper from the front office when no one is watching. So is it so bad that I bribe children? I had never been one for extrinsic rewards, believing ...


Are slumps normal? I care about my students, I’m dedicated to my job and I think I’m somewhat competent at what I do. But as the days drag on, as the slush turns to ice, then back to slush again, I’m beginning to sense a loss of energy and enthusiasm. Some folks swear it’s because of “The Long Night” out here— it’s dark when you go to work in the morning and dark when you finally leave to go home. Other suggest it’s just post-holiday, mid-year stress. I don’t know what it is. ...


You can’t buy sympathy, my mother always said, and it’s probably the hardest thing to teach. My mother, a nurse, would say this proudly as my brother and I would bring home lackluster grades, but would wheel the grandmas and grandpas around the halls of the nursing home after school as we waited for her to finish her shift. Our grades weren’t stellar, but at least we were quick to hug the elderly folks with dementia and even faster to call out BINGO numbers during afternoon games. Unfortunately, sympathy, kindness and peace don’t always fit neatly ...


Don't get me wrong. I like Baby Einstein. The way my boyfriend's baby nephews gaze at the TV screen when those farm animals bobble about to Old McDonald mesmerizes me. And early childhood educational programming is a lucrative industry I wouldn't mind tapping into one of these days. But in the meantime, as my good friend and fellow teacher Joan Lee asked me after the State of the Union address... "Why the hell did Baby Einstein get more play than FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS?" Questions? Comments? Tips on how I too can take part in this multi-million dollar enterprising spirit of ...


I had a blog entry ready from a couple months ago about one of my students with mental retardation and physical disabilities. This is how it was going to start: I have a 14-year-old cowboy in my classroom who cannot add. He cannot remember the alphabet. And he most definitely cannot read. But even with a disabled hand and a limp, “Elmer,” who has mental retardation, can cut bales of hay. He can tell you which direction the sun rises. He can feed the horses, figure out which sheep are missing and make dinner in the microwave. Sure, there is ...


I called my mom after it happened last September. And she almost cried. Remember those eight years of piano lessons, I asked. Of course she did. Did she remember those eight miserable years of piano lessons where she had to drag me kicking and screaming to the piano teacher? Those years of piano where it seemed like she was paying $60 an hour to argue with me for five? Of course; how could any of us forget? Somehow over the past semester, more than a decade since that last triumphant piano lesson when I was 13, it all became worth ...


Isn't it amazing how the quality of one's winter vacation inversely correlates with the amount of work completed? It's Saturday night in Washington, D.C. I return to New Mexico tomorrow. My two week vacation is over. And here I am, desperately planning my third quarter agenda, writing lesson plans, piecing together math homework and wondering if I should procrastinate by writing a quick blog entry....


In Navajo culture, your identity is shaped by your clans. When meeting new people, you introduce yourself by your clan and trace it all the way down to your maternal grandmother’s. This means you will almost always find same-clan relatives anywhere you go. Out here, you will never be alone. When I moved to New Mexico, I left my clan. I left behind a rich network of women. My relationships with my mother, aunts and grandmother were intertwined with phone calls, shopping trips and breakfast at Einstein’s Bagels. Our clan was a warm support system that always offered ...


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