In a democracy, the real goal of education is to help students develop themselves into knowledgeable, critically thoughtful, and action-oriented citizens. That means it is our job as teachers to educate our students to live their best futures for themselves and those around them. Good teachers know that we don’t have all the answers to… Read More »Are You Educating Citizens for a Democratic Future, or Preparing Livestock for Slaughter?
No one can deny the United States is in transition. We are moving either toward an autocracy or toward a renewed democracy. While most of us in education probably hope for the later, most of us acknowledge the momentum of the former. What I’m not sure most teachers realize is that some of this is… Read More »Why Personal Politics Belong in the Classroom: 3 Reasons and a Caution
For quite a few years, I have been hosting guest speakers in my classes via Zoom. These guest speakers have generally been friends of mine from the profession, generally fellow English teachers at the high school or college levels. Arranging visits with friends is very easy and fun, and usually the people I invite are… Read More »Tips for Hosting Guest Speakers on Zoom in Your Class
Traditional colleges/universities are conservative, even risk-averse institutions desperately preserving their prestige (and market share). The open market of for-profit education is a risk-fueled financial orgy desperately trying to be taken seriously. Both have ethical and organizational problems, which is why neither is succeeding in truly innovating the practices of higher education. What real innovation requires… Read More »Innovating the Traditional College, University Right Now
Adolescents are funny creatures. They aren’t all alike, but many of them share features. Knowing those shared features can help teachers to do their jobs better. Adolescents, and even young adults (up to 23 or so), are in a process of forming their bodies, their minds/brains, and their identities. As a result, they are filled… Read More »Why Are Some Students So Mean to Teachers They Like?
I like almost all students. Pretty much naturally. After decades of teaching, I have found that virtually every student I encounter just wants to make the best of their situation, whether they are privileged to the point of being spoiled or face such unreasonable hardships that they are angry at the world (with legitimacy), or–like… Read More »The Time I Taught at Gunpoint. Literally.
I remember distinctly the first time I took over a class as a student teacher. I was excited and extremely nervous. I was dressed in my slightly too-tight dress shirt and my awkwardly-tied tie, as I stood at the front of the room like a child about to lecture to a small circle of stuffed… Read More »3 Things to Do to Get Your Students to Respect You
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