Posted on

The core.

core of apple


Whereby I confess my most egregious professional sins and meditate, lighting candles to Grant, Wiggins, and Burke, in order to get my head back on right. And a favor: please do not make assumptions about where I’m going with this, and be honest with yourself–it is a rare human who’s never experienced a pang of professional jealousy, or ‘me-too-itis.’ 

This may be my new favorite teacher-writer:

And yes, she takes a great headshot. 

Dang, I am jealous. Straight up. Confessing. Green monster. Yuck.

But…this is when I get things moving forward again.

Jennifer Gonzalez writes the blog, Cult of Pedagogy and I’m having one of those ‘where has this been all my life?’ moments. Writes posts that I wish I had written, says the difficult things I wish I was brave enough to discuss. But now I’m going to lay it out on the table – one of her posts resonated so deeply for me this year, it is a mental grout of my brain tiles. (Oof- that is a horrible metaphor. Sorry. Told you I was off my game.) In her article, Gut-Level Teacher Reflection, she asks five intense questions that dig deeply into our constructs of what and who we are. 

1. Look around your classroom (or picture it in your mind). What parts of the room make you feel tense, anxious, or exhausted? What parts make you feel calm, happy, or proud?

2. Open up your plan book (or spreadsheet, or wherever you keep your lesson plans from the year) and just start browsing, paying attention to how you’re feeling as your eyes meet certain events. What days and weeks give you a lift when you see them, a feeling of pride or satisfaction? Which ones make you feel disappointed, irritated or embarrassed?

3. Take a look at your student roster. What do you feel when you see each name? Which names make you feel relaxed, satisfied and proud, which ones make your chest tighten with regret, and which ones make your stomach tense?

4. Mentally travel from classroom to classroom, picturing each teacher in the building. What are your feelings as you approach each one? Which coworkers give you a generally positive feeling, which ones are neutral, and which ones make you feel nervous, angry, or annoyed?

5. Look at the following professional practice “buzzwords.” As you read each one, do you have positive, negative, or mixed feelings? What other words have you heard a lot this year that give you a strong feeling one way or the other?

  • technology
  • differentiation
  • data
  • research-based strategies
  • Common Core
  • higher-level thinking
  • flip

Okay, let’s see: No. 1 – yes, my room needs some deep purging. I can do that. I may even go in this afternoon. Many best laid plans of conferencing areas, writing nooks, and comfortable reading and discussion areas fell by the wayside.

No. 2: With the directives I was given this year I learned some tough lessons. Be careful of other’s visions if the vision is embedded in negativity. Never again will I miss the subtext of someone who is inherently a doomsayer and offers little or no insight or collaborative, positive steps forward. I know and have proven I know time and again what engages students, how to embed purpose, relevance, and authentic self-esteem in constructing knowledge.

Moving on.

No. 3: What causes me anxiety is when I know, with clarity and dismay, that many of my students don’t receive the services they require, even though I pound loudly at the admin door. There is a lot of rhetoric, but not much action, and occasionally I feel I end up mocked for my efforts to try to get children real and true help. Recognizing this is one of my core values serves my efforts to continue to make as many connections with parents as possible. That’s the only way when leadership isn’t available.

No. 4: Ah, coworkers. Yes, there is one or two that cause me anxiety, but overall, my colleagues are amazing, supportive, intelligent and wise, and I know they feel the same about me. I only feel anxiety when I think I’m being compared unfairly to a new rock star on the block, and not being seen for who I am. This, to me, is one of the sins of administration –playing favorites. It was said to me, “Why don’t you teach like so and so? ” this year. That is the mark of a dysfunctional leader.

No. 5: Buzzwords? Not a problem.

There is another fuzzy-monster I need to squash. I have been honored to know John Spencer for approximately 6 or 7 years in a virtual collegial dialogue. He recently announced he’s leaving the classroom to become a professor, a trajectory I thought I might be able to do years ago.

Here’s the thing: he is amazing, creative, and has gotten out there and made it happen. He created lectures, presentations, blogs, websites, books: created and produced his dreams with the love of his family and friends. That is how it’s supposed to work. Now I am doing some hard thinking about my own trajectory, and what I want, need, and where I can provide the greatest service for students with my strengths. 

What derails us, and how do we get back on track? Well, perhaps, for me, when I am not brave or honest, or forgive myself, with grace, when life events take precedence over the perfectly-planned lesson or the standing ovation observation. I give a lot of myself to my husband, sons, and students. I am greatly looking forward to this summer when I can nourish my own creativity and purge the unnecessary or cumbersome. Funny, ‘cumbersome’ does not come in the form of too much paper or outdated files, but in emotions: it’s time to clean up any residual mental mold, and be proud and happy I know such wonderful colleagues, and they know me. 

ripe red apple with green leaf isolated on white

To summer!

PS Next post: my reading list…

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on

Seventh-Inning Stretch


Sunday we went to a Mariner’s game. It was organized by a colleague, and I brought my husband and two boys. Well, they’re not really boys anymore. Where did the time go? Just yesterday we were planning summers that involved trips to Target for sun/water toys, and me desperately trying to think of ways to entertain two energetic and inquisitive sons. It would seem a day at the ballpark would entertain a 17 and 20 year old, but, as the kids say, “meh.” However, I was happy: I love going to baseball games. The zen of the whole thing, it reminded me of the old George Carlin bit about baseball versus football.

While there, of course I may have glanced, once or twice, at Facebook, or my other educational/interest feeds, and saw this article questioning if the last ten years have been a waste.  My friend looked up at me and asked if I ever stop: stop reading, researching, thinking: nope. I wanted to give this some thought. Even at a baseball game. And what I’ve come to is, no, it has not all been a waste, not at all. It’s been painful, and destructive, and a lot of truth to power kind of stuff, but no, not all a waste. Many of the Common Core standards are refreshing and challenging. The refocus on literacy is enlightening. And, if we have all been pushed harder in our professions, then so much the better. (Many have been pushed over the edge, and we’re still working on that.) Overall, it opened up a dialogue between policy makers and educators that has been raucous, at times contentious, but worthy. I believe more parents have gotten involved in a deeper, effectual way, and more voices are heard.

Every year during testing time a student will inevitably ask me if school is ‘over’ after testing, that somehow the last 20-30 days will find us all in a stasis, as if hermetically sealed until unwrapped in August. No, young sir, this is when the real fun begins!

A former student stopped by the other day (as they do from time to time). She confessed she felt she slacked off in 8th grade, and then this year, her freshman year, she started in Core Language Arts, and then moved to Honors, and is thriving. She credited directly what I taught in 8th grade prepared her to make this leap, even if she felt disengaged at the time. Her pride was evident, and justified.

We’re in this for the long stretch, not just a burst of speed. Nothing is a waste if we learn, talk, and reflect. Grab a snack, check the stats, and enjoy the game.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on

Understanding Inclusion: Insights Welcome

Wipe your differentiation at the door.

Note: This is my attempt to understand the inclusion model. I am humbly requesting any anecdotal or quantitative data you may have.

Least restrictive environment. Absolutely. Check.

And, from Inclusion: What is Inclusion?

Two Models

There are generally two models for inclusion: push in or full inclusion.

“Push In” has the special education teacherenter the classroom to provide instruction and support to children. The push in teacher will bring materials into the classroom. The teacher may work with the child on math during the math period, or perhaps reading during the literacy block. The push in teacher also often provides instructional support to the general education teacher, perhaps helping with differentiation of instruction.

“Full Inclusion” places a special education teacher as a full partner in a classroom with a general education teacher. The general education teacher is the teacher of record, and is responsible for the child, even though the child may have an IEP. There are strategies to help children with IEPs succeed, but there are also many challenges. No doubt not all teachers are well suited to partner in full inclusion, but skills for collaboration can be learned.

Differentiation is an incredibly important tool to help children with disabilities succeed in an inclusive classroom. Differentiation involves providing a range of activities and using a variety of strategies for children with different abilities, from learning disabled to gifted, to successfully learn in the same classroom.

About four or five years ago, the inclusion model was brought to the middle school where I work. There was never any training, professional development, conversation, or guidance on how this new model would look, what benefits and perhaps pitfalls may be. We as a staff have had to try to make sense of it through three administrative staffs, (and now going on the next, who’s starting next fall). I have never had a set or regular para-educator. The special education teachers in my building are some of the superlative educators I am honored to know: their voices and contributions to the inclusion model, from what I have observed, has been hamstrung from the beginning. The students are no longer in their classrooms, but in general education, so now their time and insight is diced and parsed thin. The IEPs are kept in school district drives, and unless there is an IEP meeting and a diligent review of the special education needs students on one’s roster, often these students get lost. We have no more Honors classes, so students who are seeking a faster paced class are made to scramble through the stew of differentiation. And, those in the ‘middle’ seem to push both sides further to the edge and marginalize them. The core kids tend to bully both groups, the honors and special education students, to establish their own dominance and try to hide or save face academically.

Most of what I read describes the benefits and ethical correctness of allowing those with IEPs (Individual Educational Plans) or Special Education children mainstreamed with general education classes.

Anecdotally, I have seen:

1. Where there was a 50/50 blend of Honors and Special Education students, the classroom was lively and engaged

2. Where there were 1-3 Honors students, 1-5 Special Education students, and the rest Core, there is chaos and confusion.

The Honors kids stop taking academic risks, the special education students are left to be guided by the “honors” kids because of the misconception that the honors kids will be leaders, and the core kids bully the two extremes for being ‘smart’ or being ‘stupid.’ I have had to fight for the legally-required para-educator hours for the special education kids, because it’s assumed that they are needed elsewhere, or that any of the honors-level students will step in. Anyone who’s watched Susan Cain’s The Power of Introverts knows this is wholly unfair to many honors students.

No one wins.

Sixth period, yesterday, May 12:

Two female students wrote great ode poems about their friendship, but declined to share it. I understood: their poems were great examples of odes, (the learning target). Both students would normally be considered ‘honors,’ but are in a class of 31, with 10 ‘essentials’ students including 3 special education students. “Essentials” were those two hour long blocks of reading or math instruction, so ‘essentially’ they’ve come to hate math or reading by the time I see them.

Step in one young squire, who couldn’t care less about odes, recitation, and repeatedly said ‘he didn’t get it’ and even when I checked pre-and post for understanding, would not allow himself to admit to any new knowledge. At all. It was such a clear case of obstinance, he couldn’t even feign the weakest level of engagement, compliance. Was he so terrified of showing that he gained some modicum of education he could barely function? Appearance, staring at basketball shoes, and looking good seem to be his values, at least they are at this time in his life. But what is next for him?

Recently on an NPR report, “Students’ Work Ethic Affected by Peer Groups, Desire to Be Popular,”  (one of those stories/research projects I could have conducted!), the researcher concludes:

VEDANTAM: Well, I think, as you just said a second ago, Steve, teachers and parents need to be keenly aware of how much peers affect the choices that students make. Sometimes it’s not the best idea to say everyone who wants to go the extra mile in class put up your hand because sometimes it’s better to allow students to make those choices in private so they don’t feel ostracized by their peers.

I cannot find how to help those students who need faster pacing, who may be introverts, and now are not taking risks because of peer pressure. For students to be silenced is just as egregious as those who need extra help. Most articles discuss the benefits to special education students, which I wholeheartedly agree. But it makes the assumption the faster-paced students will lead. No. Please, just no.

From Seamless Teaching: Navigating the Inclusion Spectrum:

What General Education Teachers Should Know
The central legislative force behind education’s inclusion movement is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—the federal law that mandates that all children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education and that “to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities … [should be] educated with children who are not disabled.” The law also requires that each child be placed in the least restrictive environment—the educational space most like that of the child’s typically developing peers in which she can succeed academically.

Once a child is identified as having a disability (as defined by IDEA), an individualized education program (IEP) is crafted by a team of school professionals and the child’s parents or guardians. IEPs include information on academic performance, emotional and behavioral issues, and academic and behavioral goals. Teachers have a legal responsibility to implement the requirements outlined in the IEP.

• Invite the special education teacher or specialist to your classroom to see how the student does in a larger setting. “This is particularly important for students with behavior goals written into their IEPs.”

• Make sure the student who leaves your classroom for instruction is working with the same content as your students in general education. To achieve this goal, you must devote time to meeting and planning with the special education teacher.

But again: what about Honors, High-Cap, or Gifted students? Gifted students fall under the special education spectrum, too.

In a perfect world, all students would understand that there are all kinds of learners in the world. They would not feel insecurities when their learning is not on par with a peer’s, and would be confident that their paths would lead them to their own success. All students would congratulate and celebrate when every classmate does well, and not label others as “stupid” or “retarded,” or teacher’s pet – I don’t hear that colloquialism too often, but the sentiment is still there.

Students at the beginning of this year shared this horrible Youtube video about a little boy whose uncle makes fun of him when he doesn’t get a math answer right. The repeated word is “21.” After awhile, I told students the next one to say “21” in that context would receive a lunch detention. Yes, their repetition of that meme got to that point. I explained to them carefully why I hated that video, and why it was not funny. They are more interested in laughing at others and establishing a pecking order than actually learning about their own learning style. The other terrible phrase that’s cropped up this year is “neck,” or ‘that’s neck.’ It means you verbally slap someone on the back of their neck to show how stupid they are. Right now I am really tired of the meanness, the lack of self-respect, and fear many of my students have. I feel we have done a terrible job of inclusion, and I’m not sure how to fix it. Lectures on kindness are meaningless. For middle school students, whom I am now labeling ‘in the trough’ (more on this theory later), they are unique creatures. Many don’t have the simple kindness and empathy they had in elementary school, and lack the maturity they will gain in high school: they are wholly concerned with how they will appear to their friends, as either too smart or dumb. Being “smart” is the greater sin. A student was surprised when I said many kids don’t want to appear ‘smart,’ or interested in what they’re learning, and when I gave him examples of what other students actually said, he understood. This is more than growth-mindset. This is truly their future.

What are we teaching our children to value? If we are to make inclusion successful, what will it take for the middle years?


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on

Mindset, Rigor and Grit: Oh my…

bored student
I am way too cute for this…

I am such a cheater sometimes, such a fraud. My deepest, most humble apologies to @cherylteaches for her amazing article on the Misconceptions about Mindset, Rigor, and Grit.  Please read it. Bookmark it. Read it again. Print it out and highlight it, and then repeat three times, “There’s no place like a jargon-free day!” And then tweet her and thank her for her wise perspectives on how these are misused.

Allow me to translate this article from a teacher’s perspective:


I saw Carol Dweck speak years ago, live, in person, not just a Youtube video, about growth mindset. It was transformative. However, never in my wildest dreams did I think administrations could possibly misinterpret mindset in their opinions/bias of teachers to mean, “Never bring up a lesson that worked in the past, or something you learned or tried while not under my reign.” The word ‘mindset’ may also be used a cudgel on evaluations to mean, “This is your grade – you are an unsatisfactory teacher/basic teacher, and nothing you do or say, no matter how much evidence you provide, will change my mind about this.”

In too many classrooms, an evaluator comes in during choppy times and sums up your 180 days with 60 minutes:


► Is not a now-or-never experience. In too many classrooms, something is taught and assessed once and if a student doesn’t get it, the teacher moves on anyway.

As Mizerny states, “[Mindset]does not thrive in a hostile environment.” When evaluators are looking for the target and criteria (two words I’ve grown to hate), nicely tied up and wrapped with a bow at the end of every class, I sense they are looking for compliance from me and the students. I see what my students need, prune and adjust accordingly, and know that growth requires various conditions for all of us. Instead of “learning TARGET,” (which sounds so aggressive and violent), how about “Learning Spectrum?”

Yes, happy rainbows, spring showers and sunshine. That would be nice.


This infographic could be made into a board game of teaching:


Pretty much sums it up:

Rigor does NOT mean:

So if you’re doing that, stop it, okay? Thanks.


This. THIS.


/lowers voice

I can’t say it any better than Mizerny. “Grit” is applied to teachers more than students from my experience. If we just worked harder, pushed harder, planned more entertaining lessons, hit every mark, 100% for 100% of students.

Misinterpretations of grit:

► If perseverance were all it took to be successful, we would all have the capacity to be Olympic athletes if we just put our minds to it. Not true. Yes, it is always possible to improve, but it is a lot easier to hit a home run if you begin life on third base (through special talent or special circumstances). For the rest of us starting at home plate, we may need a little more support and encouragement to round those bases.

I am not a first year teacher, but this is the first few years of working with new standards and the ever-changing revolving door of administration. It may take me time to learn your style and your values. I am willing to be patient with you, and appreciate reciprocity.

► Sometimes the studentsteachersare working at their peak capacity; the task is just beyond their realm. Meeting the individual where he/she is and working within their zone of proximal development is more likely to yield positive results. It is destructive to tell children anyone that if they only tried harder, they would be successful. Realistically, that may never happen for some.

In other words, I am an amazing Language Arts/Social Studies/Media teacher. I will never be a great math teacher. I am language, words, and beauty. I am esoteric and reflective. 

► Generally, repeated failure does not motivate one to work harder. Usually, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and the childperson believes himself/herself to be a failure. “That’ll teach ‘em to studylesson plan harder next time” doesn’t work.

► Now, if what we mean by grit is the ability to stick with an assignmentchange in curriculum or pay attention in class, a staff meeting, then we must be darn sure we are asking studentsteachers to do work worth doing and making classprofessional development engaging. Students Teachers who have creative, challenging work to do in a positive classroom environment do not need nearly as much “grit.”

► The need for grit is primarily useful when the task involves drudgery. Not every task is worth doing, and we need to be able to let go of the mind-numbing assignments of the past and move into the 21st century. Not that we still can’t teach the required material, we just need to do it in ways that we know engage their brains and work within a modern construct. The kidsteachers are already there and if you are not with them, you are against them.

► What teacherssome think is grit is often merely compliance. Creating an environment where students teachers do what the teacher superiors asks just to achieve a high gradeevaluation or get the work finished is a sure recipe to crush souls.

Ah, what do people want? Do you want teachers who look forward to doing one of the hardest jobs there is each day, or just run through young, new educators and hope they quit around five years so they don’t start costing districts money? And it’s not milk money money, but billions. I guess it costs a lot to buy buzzwords.

And grit is a four-letter word.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on

Dream Syllabus…

cat dream

Angela Skinner Orr published this on Medium. The blurb stated this was her syllabus she wanted to give before she quit teaching. I have not, nor plan to, quit teaching anytime soon.

If you don’t want to do it, don’t. Don’t waste your time or mine by coming to class if you don’t want to be here. My time is valuable and so is yours. I am not more important than you; we are equals. That said, I have time and I have knowledge. If you want access to either, you’ll have to give up something to get them: you’ll have to give up your apathy. You will have to stop not caring about how you’re wasting your time and money. Get engaged in your learning or get out.

Hack your education. Unless you plan to be a surgeon or some other, carefully-vetted specialist, you don’t absolutely need college. If you can find a debt-free way to learn what you need to know, do it. The statistical probability is that your education will leave you with too much debt for your income and not enough skills to be an attractive candidate for employment in your field. It is highly likely you will look back, ten years from now, and wonder why you chose your current course of studies because you’re doing something completely different than you ever thought you’d do. So I highly encourage you to hack your education. You’re a lot more likely to gain the skills employers are looking for by going outside of academia. (What kinds of skills are employers looking for? See “Skills To Develop A Learning Mindset,” for a start.)

Use your iPhone in class. There is a world full of digital knowledge at your fingertips; use it. Anyone can look up how far Earth is from the sun or what a carbon cycle diagram looks like. Don’t ask a question you can Google. You may use devices in class (laptops, tablets, smart phones, etc.), but know that if you’re reblogging cat pics on Tumblr during a group session, you’re not going to do well. (Try that during a work meeting and you may be fired from your job.) You will also need other kinds of help and mentoring to get you where you want to go. Knowing what to do with your knowledge, how to apply it, share it, or use it to your advantage — those skills are harder to learn and ten times more valuable. This is where I, and others like me, come in handy.

I have no idea what you’ll learn. That is up to you. I can teach until I’m blue in the face, but if you don’t want to learn what I’m trying to get you to know, you won’t. How will you learn new things when you leave college? Start figuring that out now. If you can’t change with the times, the times will move on without you.

You will fail. (Please, please fail.) Take risks. You will learn more from your failures than you will from your triumphs. Make it a positive experience and you will come out stronger for it. I’m not talking about failing because you didn’t try — that’s laziness, or maybe even a fear of success. I’m talking about trying something new and falling flat on your face. Even if you worked hard (or were lucky) and only a stubbed toe, keep moving — and watch your step, next time.

Make something. The world is full of people who talk a good game. Put what you know to work for you and make something tangible: a research paper, a blog, a video, a work of art, an app, a piece of original code, a presentation, a song. Anything. Before he died, Steve Jobs said, “It’s not all about you and your damn passion. You need to get out there and make a dent in the universe.” Do that.

Travel. Find a way to save up, crowd fund, couch surf, whatever it takes to get you away from home for a while. It will change you. I promise. If you want to start traveling during this semester, go for it. Give yourself an “A” on the way out.

Give back. Think hard about how you fit into the world. Make a lasting impact, even if it’s a small one. Share whatever knowledge you gain. Share your time, your money, your strength, whatever you have. Be an active, responsible citizen. Be kind. The world needs more kindness.

There are no exams. Charles S. Maier, Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard said, “Life is open book; it’s not closed book.” You will have to show what you can do with what you know. Did you learn something? Prove it. No one will give you a multiple choice test outside of school. (I take that back. Google might.)

Grade yourself. In the work world, you will often have to justify your usefulness to a company, save your job from budget cuts, or explain why you deserve a promotion. I am required to enter a grade for you at the end of the semester; you will tell me what grade you deserve and why. (Want an instant “A”? See “Travel,” above.) How would you grade yourself in Life? Hmm.

Document, document, document. Show the world what you have done, what you can do. Create a trail for others to follow. Set up a digital portfolio and keep adding to it. Try, for a start.

Start now. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda

Her content mirrors much of my own beliefs, and it further contrasts how far off the path we’ve gone. We know what works, we know how to engage students (because the best teachers understand themselves), and recognize everyone is engaged in a variety of ways. However, and this is a BIG however: at the root of the conflict and strife between teachers and their supervisors (including politicians, parents, and administration) is that compliance is being confused with engagement.

This is very dangerous.

The Science (and Practice) of Creativity by Diane Cadiergue  breaks down a taxonomy is a new way, the first step being Memorization. Recently I spoke with a colleague about the role of content in her curriculum area, and how we all feel like failures because we don’t cover nearly enough content, nor do we always have the energy to invent new and entertaining ways to present content, have students take ownership, be thoroughly engaged (see compliance v. engagement), and moreover, RETAIN knowledge. Every year, the teacher/educator in the next grade will shake their heads and wonder what the teacher in the year before actually taught. Even now, those who have been in my classroom a few times assume I’m “not teaching reading,” or assuming I’m not doing anything at all I think. My compliance isn’t noted, or something, I suppose. A quiet moment at my desk while two students are talking about a project is seen as me not doing my job. It’s lead to me wondering just what is my job exactly, and how do I continue to have both confidence and reflection work together to increase students’ knowledge and skills. I have been vocal about how none of us can swim ‘in the deep end of the pool all the time.’ It’s exhausting, and metaphorically, if you want to kill the joy of swimming, then fine, make kids be “deeeeeep thinkers” all the time. Like any trope, overused leads to diminishing returns.

This is not to say that compliance doesn’t play an important role. Just being in a frame of mind where we can receive information helps foster deeper thinking, but it isn’t everything. For example, the other day I was doing a very rigorous lesson on thesis development, evaluation, analysis and synthesis. A bit too much for a warm Friday afternoon in sixth period, methinks. One girl, who wants to do well, has a big, beautiful personality, put her head down on her desk. To the outside observer, she was disengaged. She was. And I don’t blame her. That day was not her day for this particular idea. But that’s where the art of teaching enters: I made a note of it, and will follow up with her during small conferences time to get her caught up. That’s why I post lessons, Smartnotebook files, etc. on e-learning, our district’s on line tool. If it’s important to know, it’s important to re-teach and re-introduce. And, say for example I’m in a bad mood, things aren’t going my way, and then someone surprises me and says something unexpected, and pleasant. I’ve gone from non-compliance to compliance, and moreover engagement, in a flash. (I’m thinking when someone offers to run to the store from some Americone Dream…)

Now one key thing I admit is an issue, is:

Passive Compliance – student is willing to expend whatever effort is necessary to avoid negative consequences, even though student sees little meaning or value in the task (Schlechty, 2001).

So many students are just tired, bored, and cheated out of basic knowledge, so when they come to middle school are fatigued from feeling so lost.

I have turned every every rock I see to try to get students engaged and take ownership, and I still feel like a failure. I have them think of what’s important to them, drawn them out as best I can, and offer multiple pathways to thinking, multiple readings, multiple styles and prompts. And still I get “I’m confused,” or worse, shrugs of disinterest. Granted, these are things that are NOT important to me necessarily, so I just don’t get it. Perhaps I’m trying to hard, perhaps students sometimes want the clear, steady beat of a fill-in-the-blank.

Rhetoric and jargon are not the answers.

But what is? What would be on your dream syllabus?



Print Friendly, PDF & Email