What Does It Mean to Be Special?

Did ‘Fox and Friends’ Call Fred Rogers an ‘Evil, Evil Man’?

Okay, so first of all, yes, they did, and yes, it’s so incredibly wrong and horrid and shameful. Let’s get THAT out of the way first.

However, in addition, I have a fair number of thoughts on the opposing mindsets shown. Buckle up, friends; I have some general idea of where I’m headed but I’m not sure how I’m getting there, so this may be a long, meandering ride.

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Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

The end of the school year usually means a lot of hustle and bustle early in the day as teachers scurry to turn in keys and badges, count and store textbooks, finalize grades and contact students/parents about summer school if needed, return materials to the library, and of course, document everything.

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It’s Okay to Dislike a Book

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I finally finished The God of Small Things. Spoiler alert: I did NOT like it. I tried to be very gentle in what is a strongly negative review, because apparently, a lot of people really, really like this book.

Since I’m an English teacher, there’s often this assumption that I like books and I like reading. Well… it’s kind of like music. I like some music. I would guess that I might even like most music. But there’s some that’s repetitive or dissonant and I just don’t like it.

And that’s okay.

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Purpose, Depression, and Self-Care

Teaching remotely has been challenging. That sounds like a bad thing, but challenges are opportunities, despite often being unpleasant to go through. Some of that opportunity is the freedom to explore what I think should be accomplished in the courses I teach and why I think those things matter.

But at the same time, there’s a bit of resentment that comes with that, because I know that freedom isn’t going to last. A lot of the online programs that I’m getting to try out are offering access only for this school year. After that it’ll be proposals and purchase orders and budgets. It’s exhausting. Just thinking about all of the hoops teachers have to jump through to get to do something new or different is discouraging. I understand that it’s important to consider decisions like that carefully; I definitely support wanting to make informed decisions. But it’s also an awful lot of work for something that may not even happen.

And that then chips away at my sense of purpose. Why should I bust my tail developing plans and activities for something that’s so temporary? I have curricular materials that work well; anything new that I develop will have to take the place of something else. Moreover, the learning environment will be different, so I’ll need to adjust the plans for that as well.

Why bother?

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Classroom Anarchy

“You can’t make me!”

One of the defining moments of my youth was when I told my mother I wasn’t going to try out for track again my sophomore year. I’d run cross country and track as a freshman, and cross country in the fall of my sophomore year. And I hadn’t liked any of it. So I hadn’t planned on signing up again.

She pushed a bit, urging me to change my mind. Now, she was very reasonable about it, pointing out that I didn’t have physical education as a class and that physical activity is an important element to maintaining optimum health. Both very good points.

Didn’t matter. I didn’t want to do it. And maybe this is imagination painting details into memory, but I distinctly remember using the phrase, “and you can’t make me.”

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‘Friending’ Students

Social media is a very nearly unavoidable part of life for many of us. I keep in touch with family and friends via Facebook, and I’ve recently started using Twitter to connect with other teachers. Many teachers avoid connecting with students because they are worried about violating expectations for ethical professional behavior. However, the reasons to refuse students’ “friend” requests on social media are incredibly exaggerated. Involvement on social media should not be a concern for teachers who are otherwise capable of interacting with students in a professional manner.

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