Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category



June 15, 2008

I am returned

There’s much to tell and much to talk about.  I am to Junior High, and should the stars align, I should be back here next year as well.

It’s been a particularly busy and eventful time for myself, and rather than having become tired with writing, exactly the opposite.  I have been outlining a new book.  Tentatively entitled “A Year in the Life of a Middle School Teacher“, it will look at a year in the life of a typical middle school teacher.  Me.

This site may (or may not) act as my sounding board.  At the very least, I want to keep it as a repository of some of my experiences that may (or may not) make it into the book.

But in the meantime, some housekeeping.  About a year ago, I wrote about having had enough, and looking to make the switch to senior high school.  I wrote about my frustrations, and of new challenges I might meet in senior high, and even shared some of these with my principal.

This passage might have set some people off.  Well, I know it did judging by the comments.

On the other hand, junior high kids, day in, day out, do leave their mark.  I’m tired of the fuckheads who should be in jail, who don’t want to be in school, or who love nothing more than to interrupt the learning of their classmates.

To which Posh replied (via commentary):

You obviously don’t belong teaching. This is EXACTLY why I sent my kid to private her whole life. To avoid losers like you who take up teaching and don’t belong.

I realize in hindsight that I might not have been as clear as I might have been.

I very much love the idea of teaching.  But in today’s society, we are very rarely teachers.  We have over the years, and through a process that I call mission creep, become parents, counselers, social workers, parole officers, and prison guards.   And that is not what I signed up for.

I am a teacher.  I think I am a very good one; I motivate, I know my stuff, I know multiple ways to describe and explain things, I have a great amount of patience, and I like (genuinely like !) young people, their energy, and their enthusiasm

What I don’t like, and what gets in the way sometimes, is dealing with kids who don’t want to be at school, who refuse to show a willingness to learn, and who would rather be somewhere else than at school.

Now, far from suggesting we abandon these kids, what I suggest is that we create appropriate settings and classrooms for such.  And separate them from the earnest, the willing, the enthusiastic, the excited.

We live in a dumbed down world, a world mimicked  (or perhaps even encouraged) by the public education system.  Education is not a one-size-fits-all kind of institution, but the politically correct powers that be have made it so.  Integration of high needs or learning disabled students (without support, of course), social promotion, and the promotion of inept pedagogy are all responsible.

There are other reasons, of course.  These ones sounded like a good start to begin railing against.

And so, dear Posh (author of the above comment): I have been misunderstood.  That’s okay, my fault entirely.  I hope to make it better.

And to begin writing more.  Cheers!



September 24, 2007

Hot off the press; Teacher fired for telling students that the Bible isn’t literal.

A community college instructor in Red Oak claims he was fired after he told his students that the biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be literally interpreted.

Steve Bitterman, 60, said officials at Southwestern Community College sided with a handful of students who threatened legal action over his remarks in a western civilization class Tuesday. He said he was fired Thursday.

I wonder if the CBE would fire me if it knew that I’ve said the very same thing. I’ve even said worse, like “humas and ape are descended from a common ancestor”. Or that we share 98% of the DNA of some common mammals.

Couldn’t happen in Canada, eh?

And this, from This Modern World:

Mind you… as a scientist, I’m rather partial to theories.


Held to a standard

March 30, 2007

Teacher Dan, over at Dy/Dan, has called me out for assigning “the little fuckers” an extra dose when they screw around. For the record, it was a throw-away line. Not everyone may appreciate my humour.

I sure as shit don’t.

But in exploring his site, I found an earlier posting of his that challenges the homework mythos. As I told Dan in a comment, I want to believe that the homework thang is largely mythical and without merit. But I also know form personal experience that in some cases it’s necessary.

Grade nine, absolutely. Grade four, perhaps not so much.


I’ve had enough

March 29, 2007

Well, it’s not as though I’ve really had enough – I’d have quit by now – but I have made the decision to transfer to senior high school.  While it’s by no means a sure thing, I remain hopeful.  My colleagues tell me it’s difficult to transfer between divisions like this.

I guess we’ll see how many people I’ve pissed off.

But I am of conflicted mind about the move.  On the one hand, junior high is way so less stressful. I know the subject matter backwards, and in two languages.  I can plan an off the cuff lesson (say, after an all nighter, during which I might have lesson prepped) in real time, and put together a lab activity in ten minutes. And the kids don’t even have a clue. And those junior high behaviours… well, lets just say that I behave much like they do, so we have an understanding.

It’s not so tough as long as you understand where adolescents are coming from.

On the other hand, junior high kids, day in, day out, do leave their mark.  I’m tired of the fuckheads who should be in jail, who don’t want to be in school, or who love nothing more than to interrupt the learning of their classmates.

Senior high will be a challenge.  I’ll no doubt have to get up to speed with the various programs of study and deal with more demanding students and parents.  But hey! I know my science.  Before teaching I was a research biolchemist.  Shared a lab, an NSERC grant, and some nominally cutting edge research.

Unfortunately, there was no money in that. So I became a teacher.  I know, stupid move.

So there you go.  I’ll let you know what happens.


Special is as special does

March 5, 2007

I have a sign on the bulletin board next to the front door. Actually, I have quite a few snippets of inspiration for the kidlets, but this one is germaine to the conversation at hand:

You are special. Just like everyone else.

Yes they are.

Problem is, some of my colleagues are taking this attitude to extremes. A memo that’s been going around our community (teachers are divided into grade level “communities” for administrative purposes) is meant to get us thinking about end of school awards. Basically, every single student gets a “certificate of achievement” at the end of the year, along with their report card. It’s printed in-house on that cheesy awards type paper you can buy at Staples.

Yeh, like that makes sense.

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