Blog

My Students Told Me That My Classroom “Lacked Soul.” Here’s What I Did

How a teacher who arrived a week before school began started making genuine connections with her kids. The office supply store Staples was my virtual shopping buddy during my first year of teaching. I had arrived in New York City in 2004,  a week before the school year began, to teach 8th grade English Language… Continue reading My Students Told Me That My Classroom “Lacked Soul.” Here’s What I Did

Blog

Day At The Museum? This Teacher Turns Boredom To Excitement

“Museums are boring!”  And, “at least we get to go to the park for lunch.” These are the refrains I have heard over the years from students before going on a field trip to a museum. While the middle school where I teach is in Manhattan and most of the students reside there, many have… Continue reading Day At The Museum? This Teacher Turns Boredom To Excitement

Blog

What Does Culturally Relevant Pedagogy Mean and Where Can I Get Some?

Education always has a buzz word or phrase of the hour. Differentiation. Rigor. Common Core. State Standards. Restorative Justice. Educational Equity. These buzz words and phrases flit out just as quickly as they flit in. Right now I’m noticing that “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy” is a term floating around the education community. But what does culturally… Continue reading What Does Culturally Relevant Pedagogy Mean and Where Can I Get Some?

Blog

To Give Homework, Or Not to Give Homework: That is the Question

Today was the day before Winter Break and the big question on many of my students’ minds was, “Are you giving us a packet to do over the break?” Students will be out for a week and when they return a few days before the end of February they have four weeks before they take… Continue reading To Give Homework, Or Not to Give Homework: That is the Question

Blog

Valentine’s Day: The Day After in the Classroom

We celebrated a day dedicated to love in our country yesterday. Everyone was buying chocolates, candies, doughnuts, and cards in a desire to show those closest to them how much they love them. On my way to school I stopped by a local doughnut shop and bought some goodies for my students’ delight – but… Continue reading Valentine’s Day: The Day After in the Classroom

Blog

How Do Teachers Decide What Students Learn Each Day And How Can We Do Better?

One of my central responsibilities as an educator is to perform a task called “curriculum mapping.” Over the years this practice has made me aware of the lack of academic continuity that occurs when students leave NYC middle schools for NYC high schools. According to a 2001 article published by the Association for Supervision and… Continue reading How Do Teachers Decide What Students Learn Each Day And How Can We Do Better?

Blog

Is it MY fault that I Hold My Students to High Standards?

Today I was asked why so many of my students, previously “rock stars” in English class with grades of 90% and above, now have much lower averages.  Correction:  the question wasn’t even posed to me. It was asked of one of my colleagues after some of my students and their parents complained about the lower… Continue reading Is it MY fault that I Hold My Students to High Standards?

Blog

Classroom Collaboration Turned Catastrophe

I overheard a student in the high school talking on and on about a love triangle between her, her current boyfriend, and her ex-boyfriend. I couldn’t help but stop, introduce myself, and advise her, no matter what, to remain honest and classy because a damaged reputation can sometimes be irreparable. She and her friends were… Continue reading Classroom Collaboration Turned Catastrophe

Blog

This Is What Mrs. D Taught Me About Building Relationships With Students

Thinking back on my first few years as a teacher, I don’t think I was as good as I thought as I was.  Sure, I was prepared and didn’t have issues with my administrators but, given what I know now, I made a mistake by not prioritizing relationships with kids. Everyday I would come to… Continue reading This Is What Mrs. D Taught Me About Building Relationships With Students

Blog

New York Schools and Prisons Are In Dire Need of Support Staff

In one of my recent blog posts from our “Letters from John” series, my husband, who is incarcerated, mentioned that he recognizes more and more that inmates have an increased need to be heard. It’s like they are fighting against the invisibility of self that is taking place between them and their community. Many require… Continue reading New York Schools and Prisons Are In Dire Need of Support Staff