Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Teach Episode 1 Review

Watch the first episode of Teach below.

Tony Danza and I made the same mistake. The first day I took over a class as student teacher, I did all the talking. I was hoarse at the end of the day. My mentor teacher never said anything directly to me. She quietly put a cough drop in my hand. The message couldn’t have been clearer. It made me wonder how common that mistake is. Did you do it, too?

One of the things I like about this show so far is the respect Danza shows toward teachers and teaching. It is a hard job. I like his principal. I like the fact that she feels strongly about her students’ education and leveled with Danza from the get-go. One of the things you don’t see in a series like this, however, is that as hard as teaching just one class is, or having one prep is, having five or more is that much more difficult. I have five different preps right now, five different classes. I have always had at least two preps when I have taught high school (I had one prep when I taught middle school). I do like that this program shows how difficult teaching is. I will keep watching, I think. It seems to be one of the more interesting, honest programs about teaching that I’ve seen.

Some Questions

sensitive noise / obvious 2I work in a private school and don’t have any plans to change that—certainly not anytime soon. I feel like I am on the sidelines in this great education debate. I see the comments on Twitter and read the blogs. But I have some questions.

If teachers’ unions are horrible organizations who protect bad teachers from being fired, why don’t all the students without teachers’ unions, including my own, outperform states with unions? One would think that if the unions are the problem, then states without them would have the best teachers in place, and therefore would have the highest test scores.

Why are we doing this to kids?

Why does everyone think charter schools are the answer? One where I interviewed some years ago wanted to pay me about $7,000 a year less than I was making at the time. Surely they’re not going to attract the best teachers if they will not pay the teachers a wage commensurate with what they could make elsewhere… right?

If testing kids is the answer for teacher accountability, why is it that my school’s students have managed to be as successful in college and work as students with this testing background when we only administer the PSAT and AP tests? (We encourage SAT and/or ACT.) I mean, shouldn’t it follow that my colleagues and I aren’t really being held accountable enough and that our students might somehow be slipping through the cracks?

What am I missing?

Creative Commons License photo credit: milos milosevic

Georgia DOE Excellence Recognition Program

The Georgia DOE recognized me for being the Georgia Council of Teachers of English High School Teacher of the Year.

State Superintendent Brad Bryant, me, and Sixth Congressional District Board Member Robert "Buzz" Law

It was a nice ceremony, mainly because the announcers took time to tell the audience all about the people being recognized. Often it seems these kinds of things are a blitz of names, and you don’t really have an understanding why anyone is being recognized. You can view other pictures from the event here. You should have seen the student writers being recognized for being state winners of the Georgia Young Authors Writing Competition. The young ones were especially cute. I liked hearing about the stories they wrote.

The DOE also recognized two other English teachers, winners of USDA awards for school nutrition, the School Bus Technician of the Year, and winners of Georgia Association of Educational Leaders awards. I was honored to be in such company, especially the student writers.

My Life as a Reader

Thriller readerI have been a terrible blogger lately. I’m sorry—grad school, work, and home responsibilities don’t leave me much time, it’s true, but if I am honest, blogging feels a lot like work lately. Unless I’m blogging about my reading, that is.

Melanie Holtsman has come to my rescue. Dedicated to becoming a more frequent blogger, she has provided a list of topics for participants to use on their own blogs. It’s the 11th, so I’m one day off from the first topic, but I’m writing about it anyway.

What is your life as a reader like? Do you read for work, pleasure, instructions or emails? What is your favorite author and/or genre? What is your favorite reading spot? What did you like to read when you were the age of your students?

You want to know what my reading life is really like? Check out my book blog. I have an RSS feed in the right-hand sidebar if you want to see a teaser of the last five posts. I have enjoyed the heck out of writing about my reading, especially over the last few months. I try to read a little bit every single day. The grouchiest I’ve ever been was during a long period of time when the professional development courses, work responsibilities, and other intrusions prevented me from reading anything for pleasure for a couple of months. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me until I remembered I hadn’t been able to read. Reading feeds my soul. I certainly read for professional growth, but I have to read fiction and nonfiction regularly. My favorite writing comfort food is Jane Austen. I know if I read her books, everything will be all right in the end. However, it’s hard for me to say I have a favorite writer. I love so many books and so many authors. I love the written word. I like many different genres, but I don’t read much mystery, horror, or romance. I love historical fiction. My favorite place to read is in my bed, curled up under the blanket. When I was in high school, I liked to read YA fiction, mostly. Favorites included Judy Blume and Lois Duncan. I also liked to read poetry quite a lot more then than I do now. Shelley was my favorite. I have had a bit of a crush on Shelley for about 21 years now. I read books required for school when I could finish them on time—which wasn’t often the case. I try to remember that when I assign reading in my own classes.

Creative Commons License photo credit: notfrancois

Risha Mullins and Censorship

Banned Books Week 2010 PosterDrop everything and go read this post at Risha Mullins’s blog.

It is amazing to me that with the evidence in their hands that what Mullins was doing was working, the principal and superintendent—and even department members—railroaded Mullins into quitting. She is a brave person, and I admire her grace under fire. If I were a school administrator, her willingness to stand up for her kids and their learning would make we want to hire her.

I have never been in her shoes, and I pray I never will be. Donalyn Miller said last week on Twitter that she noticed it seems to be parents who don’t read who challenge books, and I think it’s very true. The parents at my school are very literate and supportive of their children reading. I am grateful every day for the place where I teach, the students I teach, and the parents that support my students’ learning.

Creative Commons License photo credit: ALA – The American Library Association

Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.