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cafeteria cliques and middle school melodrama: adult culture in schools

For the last few months, I have had the opportunity of being on my school’s hiring committee. In countless interviews, this question has risen from the mouths of the candidates: “How is the culture in this building?” As well it should. Though the work we do is with students, often the fuel to be successful there comes from the environment in which we exist, from the adults with which we collaborate. As in any school, our adult culture is defined by both strengths and weaknesses. Typically, when I answer this question, I say something along the lines: “Each of us creates the Read More

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To the Class of 2014: On Fear

Today I watch my seniors check-out. And as they sit with me, over and over I hear: “Ms…I’m scared.” And if I could say anything, I would say… Well of course you’re scared. You are leaving all you’ve ever known. You are separating from a community of friends and teachers you have been with for the past six years. You are venturing out into the world that, though inaccurate, has repeatedly told you you’re not good enough. You are moving away from the family home in which you’ve been nestled. You are transitioning into the adult world of responsibility, dire consequences, Read More

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Tribute to Tammy, RN: My Person

This past weekend was a whirlwind of soul food and spirit joy. Dave and I hopped onto a jet plan to fly to Michigan to surprise my bestest friend in the whole wide world. This friend just finished one one more astounding adventure in her life–nursing school. What makes this graduation so special is that my dear friend is not straight out of high school. She is not the traditional college student. She is not 20. She’s not single. She is a Mom, a wife, a blogger, a homemaker, a career-changer, who went back to school to live a dream instead of just Read More

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Daggers, Drums, and Differentiation: Making Shakespeare Accessible to Emerging Bilinguals

When I went to Mexico for my Master’s program in Linguistic and Culturally Diverse Education, we planned and taught English as a Second Language through TPR (Total Physical Response). Every day in the classroom, we had the students singing, dancing, acting, and playing games in order to learn and apply new English vernacular and language structures. All I kept thinking while there, as well as the follow-up reflecting on my time there, was “how does this transfer to a high school classroom?” That question was answered when I participated in “Teaching Shakespeare through Performance” program at the Globe Theatre in Read More

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An Open Letter to my AP Students on Test Day

To my dearest students, on their test day, I sit up here thinking of you down there, testing. I sit up here, across from my teacher friend/soul sister, and I think about our year together. I am reflective. I wonder if I’ve done enough. I wonder if I pushed you hard enough. I wonder if your AP Lit class was like that of any other AP Lit class, in any school not plagued by poverty or criticized by class or neglected by neighborhood or hunted by haters. I wonder if I taught you how to analyze literature, to pay attention to shift, Read More

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God, The Anchor

My dear friend Pam, who is inspiring me with her courageous adventure of sailing the seas with her family, was kind enough to guest blog with me, a landlocked friend with no sea legs or sense, about anchors. (The bold font is my own emphasis.) What is the purpose of an anchor? The purpose of an anchor is to hold a boat/floating vehicle in a general area. It is used so that the boat does not float with the tidal or current motion of the water it is in. How does an anchor work? An anchor works by digging the pointy ends Read More