Test Gatekeeping

This was written sometime between March and April of 2009. As part of our practicum, we have to do an observation of a fellow student, write up an observation, and then write a reflective response to each other’s observation. My fellow student observed me give an exam to my students and was surprised, but highly […]

When Schools Get Political, What Should Teachers Do?

Rick Hess: Politically, nothing is more potent or poignant than the picture of a child’s face at a hearing or protest. Which is why adults in the system must wield their influence with great care. Hess’s cautionary tale of schools involving students in their political agendas reminded me of my own experience with this institutional […]

Classroom Alchemy

“Hey, how was Philadelphia?” asked Darius*, as I checked his work (“Sketch a parabola in which b=0”). “Pittsburgh,” I said, pleased and taken aback. It was Wednesday, first day back after our 4-day Veterans Day weekend. Sometime on the previous Thursday, I’d mentioned casually I was going back east for my uncle’s 70th birthday. Six […]

On Sarcasm, Irony, and Teaching

Recently, Grant Wiggins posted a heartfelt post by his daughter who was totally gobsmacked by spending two days shadowing students. Apparently, they lead a life filled with boredom and pain, tortured by constant immobility and sarcastic teachers. I was unmoved. It was, clearly, a minority opinion; Wiggins’ post went everywhere, and all sorts of teachers […]

Kyle, and What I Learned about College Admissions

In the fall of his senior year, Kyle Evans1, one of my top pre-calc students last spring, came to me for advice on his Questbridge scholarship application essay. I was scribbling edits, making comments, emphasizing a strong narrative, when I suddenly realized that the point of his essay was the struggles he’d faced freshman year […]