Teaching Challenges

Are You a Nice Teacher? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

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

Three Successes and Three Areas to Improve: Reflections on Teaching My First Online Course to Undergraduates

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In Fall 2018, I designed a new course I called “Reading Social Media,” which is intended to explore the ways in which social media shapes and reshapes public discourse and those who engage in it. The course was taught in a fully-online environment, meaning that the students and I never met in person. We functioned… Read More »Three Successes and Three Areas to Improve: Reflections on Teaching My First Online Course to Undergraduates

Don’t Teach against Plagiarism, Teach for Academic Honesty

I asked a first-year college class recently, “What can you tell me about academic honesty?” All the students could talk about was how bad plagiarism is and that they should avoid it or they would get in serious trouble. When I said, “I didn’t ask about plagiarism, I asked about academic honesty,” they were completely… Read More »Don’t Teach against Plagiarism, Teach for Academic Honesty

Two Books All (White) English Teachers Should Read

The events in Charlottesville, VA have rightly begun crucially important discussions about politics, race, and racism in the classroom. I am still thinking through my own thoughts about this topic, though I am (and have been) firmly of the opinion that responsible discussion of political issues absolutely must be taken up in English classes. A… Read More »Two Books All (White) English Teachers Should Read

My Top 10 Early-Career Teaching Fails, and What New Teachers Can Learn From Them, Part II (6-10)

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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)

My Top 10 Early-Career Teaching Fails, and What New Teachers Can Learn From Them Part I (1-5)

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)

A Statement for Educators on the 2016 Presidential Election

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Below is a statement I sent on the morning after the US Presidential election to my colleagues at Stony Brook University.  Perhaps other educators might find it useful. As always, my views do not necessarily represent Stony Brook University or any of its agents or subsidiaries. Dear  Colleagues, Last night the nation spoke and elected… Read More »A Statement for Educators on the 2016 Presidential Election