Thursday, October 29, 2009

an open letter

No offense, r180, but I'm pretty much done with you. Your curriculum and expectations of rote practice and limited teaching move-ability is confining at the very least. If you were a vegetable, you would be the one shriveled one in the bag that I'd rather throw away than eat. If you were a pet, I would never be your owner.

To be frank, you have squashed my dreams of being happy. You and, in conjunction with my administration, have ruined my first year of teaching by strict rules that adhere only to quality process and never to actual quality products. Because of my administration's obsession with going with previous year's plans for ease's sake, as opposed to updating old projects and making much more interesting, my ability to create an actual holistic experience in the classroom is floating terribly down like Icarus. Because of your unwavering attitude toward process and only teacher-student-whiteboard relationships, the ability for our students to experience the kind of guidance and human development research has felt necessary to include.

If you need answer, please tell me this: where do we, as R180 teachers, enter creative use of instruction within this systemic trap?

All in all, R180, I've learned that in the school I'm currently employed under, it is best to just follow the status quo, and never speak out. Best to just leave our work where it is, and push aside innovation, adolescent development and critical thinking in order to stick with the process.

Sirs & madames, I am sorely disappointed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


To play, or not to play. That is the question!

I love playing music, and, in fact, back at Duggan, I found myself playing lots of music. In fact, my usual course of tunes was a CD of pure Yo Yo Ma (which featured both down-tempo and uptempo music) as well as some select pieces on Now, Pandora is accessible at school--it wasn't back in Massachusetts--and that lights up my life. Mostly because that means I can dilly-dally (read: prep) while listening to my favorite stations, and then, when the teaching gets going, I can head over to the station and ask for my "Artur Rubenstein" station, which plays only the best of classical music with a twinge of the moderne, as they say.

Now, the problem I have with Pandora is that it's so freaking amazing that I can't quite concentrate on what I should be working on. In fact, this is my problem with the internet in general, but let's not make this an intervention. (Hi my name is RtD, and I have a problem) Anyways, I have so many things that could be done in a short amount of time (correcting my quizzes for instance, or prepping for portfolio presentations that are coming up in, oh, a week) that I don't do. I blame it on the internet. That oh so lovely, sumptuous, dreamy internet.

Friday, October 9, 2009

after the firings (update)

I should've been reading the blogs I love more often. I suppose I should learn that empathy-building thing that everyone's talking about. Anyway, there's more to this than I know, and I think it's because, in general, I haven't been following the news via the DCTblogs. That's unfortunate, but that's the way it happened.

It's strange, reflecting on the whole experience, that this hasn't impacted me. It just seems to me that it should have, or that I should've been more upset or more aware about it than usual. It just felt like most teachers weren't talking about it much--or maybe they were, and I was just locked up in my room working, or something. Yikes, it's like I'm early 19th century Japan or something! (right? history teachers? anyone?)

So, in general, I still say that it hasn't affected me as much, except that my class size increased, and that I kept getting these ridiculous, curious, and obscure letters in my room detailing the happenings of the RIF (as people're callin it these days). I never bothered handing those letters out to my kids (that's what we were supposed to do)...because I forgot...but also because it just didn't seem like something important at the time. Obviously I was wrong, duh.

Maybe Mr. Potter's right: maybe there's racism in the school district. Isn't that pretty typical of most cities? Aren't we supposed to be teaching kids not to be racist (i hate it when those freakin kids call my Chinese and Vietnamese kids makes me wicked mad...and I hate not being consistent in my detention rules of no racial slurs or judgements), though? And also, is there a larger proportion of principals in schools like Kelly Miller or Cardozo or Roosevelt that are white? Because as I understand it, racism is about people in position of social power (not economic power, like principal vs. staff) beating down on those in the minority as it were, or those with less social power. I dunno...does that make the city or the DCPS itself racist?

Thursday, October 8, 2009


My blogging nerdiness is apparent: I feel honored and fantastic: I'm on the links list of one of my favorite DC bloggers. I can definitely say that a several lot of DC teaching bloggers have influenced me greatly in my decision to come to DC.

Despite all the strife they experience, it's apparent that they are committed to their students, and will go through what they need to in order to advocate for and teach their kids. It's great to see that, and I have to say that's one of things that made me curious and excited to teach here.


after the firings

So, it's been a while (as usual), and my usual apologies.

Oh, the firings. I can't quite tell, to be honest, who has gotten fired, as our administration was pretty tight-lipped about it. Which is good, actually, because it keeps the integrity and privacy of the people who were fired at my school. So, the question is: should I really feel terrible? I'm fortunate enough to be in a school where only 7 teachers were fired (fortunate in that in schools like Cardozo, 40 teachers got fired). We're all still doing our jobs, and of course some of our students were affected and disappointed and all...but honestly, I just didn't feel it. One of my classes rose from 12 to 17...that made a bit of a difference, sure, but besides that?

So, let me ask: is it bad that I don't feel as up in arms as I should be? I'm not a huge union fan (I must've driven away tons of readers by saying that!), at least not a huge old/established/bureaucratic/entrenched union fan. Don't get me wrong--I love popular movements (I did live in Latin America for a little while)

Also, should I go to SE on Tues to see a student of mine's football game, or wait til the next one that's closer?