Happy Martin Luther King Day

When I do a mediocre job at instruction, it isn’t intentional, but  Arizona is doing it deliberately:

In a meeting this week, administrators informed Mexican-American studies teachers to stay away from any units where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes,” including the teaching of Shakespeare’s classic in Mexican-American literature courses.

Read the depressing article at:



January 17, 2012. Education. Leave a comment.

I hope you Know This Will Go On Your Permanent Record

About a year ago I applied online  to one of the wealthiest school districts around. After filling out the usual work history and essay questions, I was asked to complete a timed Teacher Style Profile Builder. It was late at night and I thought it was an interesting twist on the application process. I assumed there were no right answers, since different types of teaching often demand a different set of skills. I was wrong. I went ahead and quickly completed the multiple choice questions, most dealing with hypothetical situations.

Now, a year later, I started filling out an online application for another desirable district. The Teacher Style Profile popped up again. This time I thought I should investigate a little before completing the questions. Possibly the questions favored a particular approach or philosophy. A quick search revealed very little information about the actual content about the questions, but several other teachers seeking employment also had some anxiety about it. One conservative teacher thought the essay questions and profile reflected a liberal, multicultural bias. A few more wondered why they couldn’t see the results. I searched further and found the Style Profiler’s purpose is to screen the hundreds of applications received by districts in order to select about 45, saving the district time and money. The district I had applied to apparently had over 3,000 applications on file. Individuals whose responses matched those of the district’s best teachers would make the cut and be considered for an interview.

Armed with this new knowledge, I went back to take the Profile and complete my application for the second district, paying a bit more attention to my choices. Unfortunately, a message popped up saying that my previous results were on file, and would be for two years. If I didn’t want to share the results with the district, I would have to contact them directly, since I wasn’t allowed to retake the profle.

You can find out more about the dreaded Profile Builder at:


May 8, 2011. Education, mediocre teacher, teacher pre-screening. Leave a comment.


I hate calling student’s parents. Last week I called several and tried to give a little praise mixed in with the reports of defiance and failure to turn in homework. The next day a parent showed up during reading. I invited her to sit down, but she said she wasn’t parked legally. She walked behind her son and BAM! smacked him in the head, told him to pay attention and left. Of course I had to call her that night and explain that even parents shouldn’t strike their kids when in school.

A feral third grader recently added to one of my reading groups has been verbally threatening the other kids, rapping, thumping and rolling around on the floor, among other things. I wanted to phone his house, but every number listed on the emergency contact sheet is disconnected. At the end of the day I saw him crying and stumbling backward into the hallway from his homeroom, followed by a formidably large woman who stepped forward and shoved him again.

February 28, 2010. Education. Leave a comment.

Stupid Things I’ve Said #1

I had a group of fifth and sixth graders crammed around a “kidney” table struggling with the SRA Corrective Reading text. A young man with ADHD plopped his feet on the table and started rolling up his trouser legs, to which I bellowed “Pull your pants down!”

February 21, 2010. Education. Leave a comment.

I got a “C”

My #1 son attends an “accelerated” second grade class. I helped him with his weather station science project during Saturnalia break and had a heavy hand in writing his 5 page word processed report that accompanied his presentation board. His teacher recently posted the grades on the school website. We got a C. Forty years ago when I was in second grade I was still writing on enormous sheets of paper with a third of the page devoted to drawing space at the top. Now second graders have to write research papers.

February 2, 2010. Education. Leave a comment.

My state without a Union

I’ve been spoiled by working too many union teaching jobs. When I was told report card pick up day was this week, I asked “When do we come in?”  In my old union jobs we would work 6- 8 hours as usual for parent conferences, but at my charter school we stay 11 1/2 hours without overtime pay.

January 29, 2010. Education. Leave a comment.

New Job, Same Issues

I shouted again at my students more than once today. It’s only my fourth day as a special education resource teacher at a charter school in an urban district. I’m a balding, middle aged, bespectled white male. My students are energetic African American 4th-6th graders with various disabilities. The school has hours of testing on Fridays (Thanks NCLB!) so at one point before lunch I had all of my restless students show up in my room-some with tests I was supposed to adapt or proctor, others with no work, all with attitudes.

While the morning was OK, the afternoon was horrible. I probably am burned out, but with a family of seven I don’t have the luxury of pursuing a mid-life career change. Instead I plod along being a mediocre teacher for students who may need more than I can give-even if it were my best.

January 23, 2010. Education. Leave a comment.