Friday, August 28, 2015
Only one of those groups actually matters. And it's not the group that thinks so very highly of themselves. Only one of those groups still has the potential to change our system, to improve education and our society by addressing real and complex issues in immeasurable ways. The other has already given up, and is looking only for numbers from a test or a survey that will help them justify their existence to their own bosses.
I'm uninterested in catering to the desires of those "above;" as uninterested in that as they are in creating real and effective change.
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And even those who do care, who love the classroom and students and who get it - within 2 or 3 years away from daily teaching, they've forgotten. They've been seduced by fancy looking paperwork and rubrics that no one will ever see; by color copiers and real duty-free lunches, by politicians who don't understand education telling them what good work they're doing...so they take the money and create the forms and hold "Professional Development Opportunities" that just showcase how far gone they are from real teaching.
And those who could make change, who really see what the problems are and where change needs to happen, are too busy grading papers and emailing parents and opening milk cartons and adapting homework assignments for 10 different students who need individualized lesson plans in order to reach their potential to do anything about it, except for recognizing that if they leave the classroom for long, their soul will lose its spark and they'll no longer be a part of the solution, but rather a part of the problem.
Friday, June 19, 2015
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
I'm teaching a new class next year, and it's kind of groundbreaking. Which is super exciting and inspiring, and also means that lots of people care, and apparently that newspapers and magazines want to write about it!
It's strange to be the voice of this, because there are so many people who have worked so hard for so long to make this kind of thing happen (if you know me, you know what kind of thing, and what kind of class, I'm talking about), and in many ways, this just fell into my lap. And now people are asking me to speak about it!
I'm going to do my damnedest to do it justice, though. I have so many ideas, none of which have to do with standards or alignment or anything else that curricular specialists would say I should focus on - it's a revolutionary class, so why shouldn't the approach to education be a little revolutionary?
I'm going to bring in podcasts and speakers and teach activism and infuse art into every nook and cranny of this learning that I can. We'll read primary documents and create context and compare intense hypotheticals because they've got enough focus on literacy going on. Skills are great and all, but if you're not inspired to do anything with them, then what's the point?
I didn't talk about that in the interviews so much though. Instead, I talked about how amazing the community I teach in is. There aren't many places that would allow this kind of class, and even fewer that would be celebrating it. I feel so blessed. And the pressure's on! This has to be good.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Still, I waited to actually do anything about it. Because once you pee on that stick, it's either real, and your suspicions are confirmed and then holy crap, you're pregnant, or...or you're not, and you've been hallucinating and fantasizing for a week. Also, you've now got this tennis ball thing to get checked out. And who wants to write "tennis ball uterus" as her chief complaint when checking in at the doctor's office? Both options terrified me. So I waited, and waited, until almost a week past when every other logical person would have thought back to 10th grade health class, and then gone to the damn Walgreens, bought a First Response, and done something useful with her pee for once.
The night came and went, and before the cobwebs cleared my head, I went for it. The minute in between peeing on that stick and watching first one, then two, blue lines appear, seemed to last at least an hour. I'm not sure I breathed. I definitely didn't move. And none of my selves said a thing. I just sat for a moment, pants around my ankles, staring into the mirror across from the toilet at this new version of me. First one tear, then two rolled silently down my cheek, dropping onto my thigh. And finally, when I breathed again, a big gulping gasp of air, my strangled voice, and every other part of me, shouted "thank you" to the universe, in the very quietest voice, so I could hold my secret for just a little bit longer.
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Ross had an artist's reception for another show today! He had 5 pieces in the show, all some of the best works there.
Friday, May 8, 2015
I can't be more specific about it yet, because not everyone who is involved knows about it yet, but if you know me and my work, especially where I began my teaching career, you might know what this is.
I'm so excited to see this change happen, and so glad I didn't give up.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Nope. This kind of junk is part of what keeps us underpaid. My students are not a mercy project, they are people who need me to do my work well for their benefit, not in order to feel like a superior person. My craft is not built out of good intentions, and good intentions aren't where learning comes from. Teaching IS a job. It takes talent, work, study, and it should be paid like the profession it is. We don't say this about doctors or firefighters or politicians. And you know what? We pay them properly. I wish my district and my union would stop perpetuating this crummy myth that teaching is done out of goodness, rather than out of passion and talent and desire for career.
I hate this narrative about my profession. It's damaging to me, my students, education as a whole.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
But...why are we conflating these two things? Why do professors have to be full time teachers AND researchers? Where did we get the idea that subject matter experts are the best teachers? Clearly, some professors don't really get the work that goes into teaching:
Teaching college, especially if you’re good at it, isn’t particularly hard. But it does take time—and those 75 minutes in the classroom are the least of it. There are the office hours (which most students eschew for for professor as 24-hour email concierge); there’s the prep (anywhere from two to 10 hours for one class meeting); and then, of course, there are the hours upon hours—upon godforsaken hours—of grading. Four (or five!) courses, even with the shortcuts afforded by a teaching assistant here and there (which most people don’t get), are a full-time job in and of themselves.
You know what happens when true subject matter experts (the kind who just get it from the start) teach? They can't explain things. They understand so intrinsically that they are easily frustrated when students don't. And they can't see why their classes don't understand the steps to solve a problem, in large part because they don't see all the steps clearly themselves.
Education reformers, especially those who haven't spent time in the classroom, think it's all about making sure teachers know things and are infallible sources of information. But we're not that. We're problem solvers, explainers, writers, activity designers. Teaching is not easy. It's not simple. And it's definitely not something that should be done while also conducting huge research projects.
Why don't we separate the research from the teaching? I would love to be a college lecturer, but I would not like to be a researcher. And I definitely would not like to do both.
North Carolina education bill: It would require public university professors to teach eight courses per year.
When EtheFirst is all grown up and taking care of my infirm self, I will tell him I want oatmeal for breakfast even though I really don't. Then, when he brings me oatmeal, I'll throw it on the floor and cry until he brings me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Toasted, but not crunchy. After that I'll berate him for not being able to put my oatmeal back together.
And both times, I'll laugh my ass off, then shout "look what I'm doing" and show them how good I am at sitting on non-chairs. Because they should know!
Monday, April 13, 2015
A reminder to myself - do what is good, not always what is expected.
I've been feeling in a rut about my teaching. Frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted; all my creativity is being used on getting children at home to sleep and feel secure. I'm stuck in a pattern of Lecture, Reading, Quiz, Video, Repeat. Not my best work, but simple.
I'm about to embark with my sophomores on a month long research project, and I'm kind of dreading it. It's a wonderful project, full of deep learning, research, and self-directed investigation, but it's also messy, confusing, and consuming. And since I won't be teaching sophomores next year, it's hard to approach the project with the same sense of refinement and reflection that I have in the past.
But it's worth it. I'm happier with myself when I do good work, and that colors the rest of my world. So I'm hopeful that I will remember the information here:
-Memorization is pointless; students quickly forget
-Students learn better when they're interested in the topic
-If they know I care, they're more likely to do better.
I will not let myself be dragged down by the temptations of easy work, of low expectations from society, or the pressures from "reformers" to deliver reductive, linear education.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
First thing in the morning: "Ma! My head is a gas giant, like Jupiter!"
Just before bed, as Ross is sciencesplaining how eyes work to him: "No, daddy, those aren't tear ducts! They're cry drips!"
I hope with all my heart that he stays this insightful, cause this stuff is too funny!
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Women at Work: We're Doing All the 'Office Housework,' Too
Question: Who brings the cupcakes at your office, is more likely to toss the moldy leftovers from the communal fridge, or gets stuck organizing the office b-day shindig? Answer: Hey guys, I can make reservations at the bar for today's post-work drinks. It's no problem, really!
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Sunday, January 18, 2015
Here Are the 36 Questions That Will Allegedly Make You Fall in Love
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Saturday, January 17, 2015
And then I just stand there awkwardly, like, dammit. Hope that person is cool enough to not think I'm a total freak now.
So here's hoping I don't replay that in my head for the next week, thinking of all the smart cool things I could have said, rather than what I did say.