Thursday, April 17, 2014


Is not differentiating an essay test, as a final means of seeing what the kids know about discovering theme, organization, and analysis ok? I gave them a possible guide for a body paragraph. It's not much. It's small. There are some who need the differentiation. But I want to test it. I'm conflicted.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

2014: The Year of the Job?

Crazy that I'm doing this, but I felt like it's time to get back into the hang of talking about things, getting interested in what I'm doing, and also playing around with ideas to whomever sees them.

I've been at my new job for now three years (or will have completed three years), and I'm getting antsy for more money. The private sector is interesting, or at least the private Catholic sector is interesting--I don't know how much one gets in other schools, but I haven't seen much advancement in mine because we don't have a lot of money. I'm afraid to ask for a raise because I don't want to a) get disappointed and b) be forced to say well, I think I need to leave the school, which will mean an aggressive job search and quite possibly disappointing results, depending upon whatever happens, right?

So, I'm in this strange place now: updating my resume (having forgotten, in the first place, how long or how short a resume should be, and what it should include now that I'm no longer a new-new teacher), in dire need of putting together a portfolio (which means giving myself a deadlines), getting all of my packets for MD, VA and DC certification (my MA license expires this summer--gulp!!), and working up the chutzpah to talk to my boss about a raise. All of these things are happening at once, and they are nerve-wracking as hell.

I was glancing at a job at a private school and it said to submit a cover letter and a short description of my philosophy of education. I had to do exactly that in graduate school. To borrow a phrase from Robert Hayden, what did I know? What did I know of teaching's austere and lonely offices? Or, to be a little less dramatic: I was so young, uninhibited, uninformed (save what I learned from year-long, wonderful experience and grad school), and uninitiated. But now I'm not. So what is my philosophy of education?

Here are some notes: over the past five years I've realized that without a plan, I feel out of place and stuck. You have to know where your kids are going, and what you want to get out of them, (e.g., a skill set, or a standard or what have you) because if you don't--if I don't--you lose yourself in not understanding your text and floundering around with "the paper." I believe that student achievement is a mixture of a lot of things: that success is incremental, that it should be tracked holistically and on spreadsheets (though a focus on holistic has been my way, i.e., I see patterns of behavior and poor/mediocre results as opposed to formal data-driven instruction as the trend is) and looked at consistently, that you gotta know your kid's limits socially and emotionally before you can even pretend to try and force them to do something they're uncomfortable with. Hitting on that last point again, it's impossible for me to go forward with any school year without building a relationship with my students--the importance I put on person-to-person relationships, as a way to build classroom management and for general empathy, is the utmost. I feel that English is just as skills-based as Math or Science, and that it's all about steps and questions when you get down to the nitty gritty, but a flood of emotions when it comes to entering into a text and falling in love with language. It's a balance of love and mechanics, as is everything. Reading is a difficult process of metacognition and self-monitoring, and writing is about seeing models over and over to learn the rules, the break them.  A teacher's worth a ton. A student is worth a ton.

That was a good exercise. Now, Spring Break, I will attempt the impossible: get out of my house, go to the gym and do some physical exercise.