As a teacher educator–that is, someone who teaches would-be teachers at the college level and leads teacher certification programs–I have always been leery of students who become teachers because they like imposing rules. I’ve had would-be teachers say, in front of an entire class, that they enjoy correcting people’s grammar and pointing out errors on… Read More »If Teachers Are Natural Rule-Followers, That’s a Problem
As a teacher, your job is extremely clear. There is a bottom line. It’s student learning. Period. That’s it, that’s all, and there ain’t no more. However, as every decent teacher knows, there’s a hell of a lot to student learning. It’s vaster and far more complicated than most people other than good teachers know.… Read More »Bored Students are the Teacher’s Responsibility: What Can You Do About It?
When I was a student teacher, way back before the Internet and just after TV Dinners moved from 40 minutes in the oven to 4 minutes in the microwave–really! Where did we find the time?!–I learned a few lessons from some veteran teachers that I had to unlearn later. One teacher in particular, a crusty… Read More »“Students Have a Right To Fail” and Other Stupid Lessons I Had to Unlearn
I love social media. Not all of it. I’ve been off Facebook for just about a year, and I have enjoyed the time away. But I love Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. I like these platforms better because they are more public facing than Facebook, which tends to narrow to people I know personally. I like… Read More »2 Fast, Easy Ways to Keep Social Media from Driving Your Students (and YOU) to Distraction
Every teacher has been there. You are trying to get your lesson done. You might even be leading up to something that most of the students will enjoy, but you have that one student who will not allow you to teach. They have influence over the other students, they distract you, and they are able… Read More »3 Things to Know If You Have A Student Who Keeps Acting Out In Class, Refusing To Do Work?
Students, particularly young students, will often praise the teachers they like as “nice.” In my career, I have often been called “nice,” but I’m not sure it was always accurate. And, more often–when I was actually being nice–I wasn’t always considered nice. Especially not at the time. So what does it mean to be a… Read More »Are You a Nice Teacher? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself
Two years ago I taught a course for first-year college students that was focused on social media. It was called, “The Language of Social Justice,” and we looked at how social justice was fought for and against on social media. I required all the students to sign up for some social media, including Twitter, which… Read More »Teachers, What’s Your Social Media Policy?
It is my job as a teacher to create the conditions such that each student learns all they can from the English language arts to survive and thrive in the future. That mandate, which is entirely about student learning, is the only thing that does or should guide me as a teacher. Within reason, of… Read More »Fairness in the Classroom: It May Not Be What You Think
Read Part I First. Teaching Fail #6: Being a Pedantic Hard Ass The Story: This story goes way back to when I was student teaching in East Hampton, New York in 1988. My cooperating teacher had a speech class that he asked me to take over. I used his assignment for the students, which required a speech of between… Read More »My Top 10 Early-Career Teaching Fails, and What New Teachers Can Learn From Them, Part II (6-10)
Teaching Fail #1: Oversleeping During my first year of teaching high school English full-time, I had a few recurring fears. Oddly enough, one was that I would be incapacitated by a 15-25-sneeze-long sneezing fit and completely lose control of a class. This didn’t happen in my early years of teaching (although it since has, and was fine).… Read More »My Top 10 Early-Career Teaching Fails, and What New Teachers Can Learn From Them Part I (1-5)