In my recent post about interviewing, I advised not to speak negatively about yourself or your teaching. Interviewers know there is no such thing as perfection, but we want to get a sense of what contributions you might bring to the job. Sharing negative experiences can spark your interviewer's imagination in unpredictable and detrimental ways. But what if you are expressly asked about an area of weakness or something else that veers toward the negative? Here are some suggestions for responding to questions that open a potentially negative can of worms, without getting negative about yourself or your teaching. Hint: ...
Getting a job requires you to be both principled and strategic. There is a fine line between being appropriately honest, and well, shooting yourself in the foot.
In a demo lesson for a teaching position, make sure to create opportunities for students to think critically. This may sound obvious, but it can be difficult to maintain that space when you don't know the students and you're working in such a high pressure situation. For the members of the hiring committee I was on recently, this became a crucial factor in our decision. Here are some suggestions for making sure the students are doing higher order thinking in a demo lesson.
Be specific. Know examples of your work. Be articulate. Ariel Sacks gives tips for teachers going through job interviews.
In my previous post, I discussed the debate around whether to teach whole class novels. In the field, this conversation can get quite polarized, but we shouldn't be limited to this either/or scenario. As a profession we can do better than a decades old stalemate. I believe we must revolutionize, not drop, the whole class novel. The five strategies below are steps toward that end.
The debate around the use of novels in English classes of all age groups is at least twenty years old, but it remains unresolved, continually bubbling up in blog posts and conversations among a wide range of concerned educators: what do we do about the whole class novel? In this post, I analyze the state of current teaching trends with regard to novels, and offer two propositions for moving the debate forward.
Educators and others who think about social issues--I can use some help: I got into a conversation with students in English class today about sexism, brought up by a pattern (out of the classroom, but among our students) of MS boys making critical comments about girls' bodies. In the course of an energized, basically positive conversation, some boys brought up that girls can be sexist, too. In a moment that I could have handled better, I argued against this, instead of probing further.
Many of our struggling readers did not grow up with a consistent reading ritual at home; instead, they were exposed to books mostly in school. What was that context like for them?
One of the most fundamental routines in an English or any literacy-based classroom is the practice of reading. So what do we do when we give students a reading task, but we see that real reading is not happening? I'm talking about those moments when it seems like we're stuck repeating directions, redirecting off task behavior, and even struggling to stay focused ourselves. Maybe it's just a wonky moment--or maybe it's time to step back, evaluate what's really going on, and change course.
Meaningful conversations and content in class mean a little more right now. Any break from school, but especially the holidays, bring more than the usual amount of chaos in students' lives--both at school and at home. While anxiety can build and emotions can run high, our words can be reassuring and inspiring. Whatever we leave students to think about is going to sit with them a little longer and differently than on any normal school day or week.