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Showing posts from 2018

It Takes a Faculty

I can distinctly remember the first time a student gigglingly told me I was her favorite teacher. Honestly, it came as a shock. I knew that she and I had a good relationship, but it had never occurred to me that I, struggling first-year Mr. K, might actually be a student's favorite.

I realize that being the "favorite" is not our job as teachers. But I think most of us will also admit that we like it when a student bestows us with this title. It's nice to have that confirmation of a good relationship, and it often seems as though the student feels he or she is giving you a gift by letting you in on the secret.

Sometimes, I'll have a student tell me I'm their "second favorite" teacher. Not bad. And on the last day of school last week, a student left a package of Skittles on my desk, along with a note that said she was getting candy for her four favorite teachers (she didn't say where I ranked within the four). It gave me a chuckle, but it also go…

Public School Teachers: It's Time to Speak Up

I'd like to make an argument that might sound self-serving, or even audacious, but which is actually quite defensible, and, I would argue, indisputable:

Public school teachers are the linchpin of the American Dream.

Your reaction to that statement probably has a lot to do with your background, your career, and maybe even your political beliefs. Some of you will zero in on the word "public," and notice that it excludes private school teachers. This is intentional, but not because private school teachers aren't important. It's intentionally exclusive because private schools aren't accessible to everyone, and universal accessibility is crucial to the American Dream.

Others of you might focus on the word "linchpin," and think I'm over-stating the case. You might agree that public school teachers play an important role, but you might disagree that their role is essential. Or, you might argue teaching is one of many professions that are important to t…

Failure-Friendly Classrooms Must Be Socially Safe, Too

"I didn't think this was going to work!"

Those were the words that came whispered out of my student's mouth as we both looked on at a group of her classmates exuberantly playing the game she had designed.

It was Tuesday, the day after a three-day weekend, and even though I wouldn't have put it in those terms, I had started the day with my own concerns about how exactly things were going to go.

At the start of each unit in my Ancient Civilizations class, I have the students brainstorm classroom decorations and activities that align with our subject matter for that unit. We vote on each idea, and the best ones become part of an end-of-unit celebration.

Originally, we'd planned to hold our Ancient Mesopotamia celebration just before the holiday break. But as December began to draw to a close it became clear that many students would be out of town and would miss the party. So I rescheduled it for after the break. As happens with 12-year-olds, many students heard …