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 ...

Despite living for two years in the natural wonder that is New Mexico, I'm still a bit more Nordstroms than nature. That alone is enough to make me fascinated by outdoor education and its potential impact it has on individuals. This weekend, the Washington Post Magazine published a piece chronicling the journey of nine teens plucked from a notorious juvenile detention center and transplanted for eight days in the red rock canyons and rapids of Arizona and Utah. "This journey, he's been told, is supposed to expand his horizons beyond the streets of D.C., to transform his sense of ...

Full disclosure: I have watched the movies, but have not read the Harry Potter books. I'm an avid reader... but there are just other books I want to read before Harry Potter! (I await vicious phone calls from HP friends, including the one who owns the HP hat, Legos set, 4 shirts and 2 afghans.) Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling revealed Friday that Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore is gay. My Harry Potter-reading friends think it's no big deal. As an educator, I personally think it's not a big deal, but a step in the right direction: to expose children ...

This week's entry is by Jeremy Fried, a first-year Teach For America English teacher in the Rio Grande Valley. In this piece, Jeremy shares the grim reality and deeper responsibility of teaching. “Sir, I should be teaching this class,” “Diana” yelled across the room. My class erupted in laughter. For a second, I stood at the front of my class dumbfounded. I had no idea what to say. Worse, a little voice in that back of my head was saying, “She’s right.” Diana is 15 and pregnant, and she had just managed to get everyone in the room to ...


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