November 2007 Archives

"Long nights" and "Dark(er) Novembers" aren't limited to classroom educators. Everyone, from principals to custodians and apparently program directors, are prone to some kind of school-year slump too. I know the work we're doing is critical, but I just get so tired sometimes. Students aren't showing significant improvements yet. Teachers are getting bummed out. Morale is low and sometimes it's hard to see the difference my 14-hours of work each day makes. That's why it was so heartening to speak two weeks ago to an accepted 2008 Teach For America-Rio Grande Valley corps member. I got "Meredith's" phone call ...

In New Mexico, we called it the "Long Night." In Texas, it's "Dark October" (which apparently stretches through November...). Whatever its name, it refers to the same thing that creeps up around this time of year for new teachers. It's that time to wonder: Who am I, what am I doing here, and why is that child throwing his chair into the wall? For all you veteran teachers out there, whether you're in your second year or second decade, you know what I'm talking about. It's comes awhile after the August honeymoon. It's been a good couple months of trying ...

At the start of the school year, a new teacher asked me if it was OK to let her students start their warm up assignments one minute into the school's 3-minute moment of silence. My immediate response was no, it was not OK. That's because my philosophy is that when you plant yourself uninvited into a new community to teach, there are a few unspoken rules to follow, at least at first. Among them include: 1) Eat the food. Don't complain. 2) Try to like the music. Don't complain. 3) Avoid politics and religion, unless absolutely necessary. And even in ...

I joined a service program after college despite planning to leave education after two years. I joined because I knew I needed to serve my country in a direct way. If I hadn't joined, the classroom I taught in would have been led for another year by a long-term substitute. Without the opportunity to "try out" teaching in a supportive program, I would never have considered education as a field I would anchor my career in. My experience is nothing special. My partner, a returned Peace Corps volunteer, is earning his doctorate in international development. My former postman, a retired ...


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