Writing in the Classroom

img_7513A new teacher friend of mine recently asked for some practical steps to increase writing in her classroom. She said she was experienced with teaching essays of the “academic” sort, but her students weren’t naturally engaged, and the curriculum didn’t provide much room for creative writing. She also wasn’t confident about how to begin.

It’s my belief that students need to do far more writing than their teachers can ever read, and we’re cheating them out of some real fun and growth if we don’t provide them with chances to… Continue reading

What’s Your Dream?

dream2I once asked my students what their dreams were for their futures. We were contemplating how the American Dream crosses through different works in American Literature (Gatsby: the green light, Of Mice and Men: rabbits/a farm, Streetcar Named Desire: safety/desire, Frederick Douglass: freedoms), and we realized how central dreaming was to us as individuals, quite aside from specific desires for nice cars, independence from parents, or saving the world. Dreaming lights us up inside and give us something to go for. It helps us feel… Continue reading

The Teachers vs. the Bean Counters

It’s a horror story.  I keep talking to teacher friends who are being crushed by the new system of legislature-mandated teacher evaluations here in CT.  They don’t talk about it publicly because they’re too exhausted and time-starved to peep, and besides, if you speak up from within the system, you sound like a whiner or an incompetent.  Teachers are already scared and demoralized, if not actually crying (and some are).  They’ve already been told point blank that by the end of the evaluations, no teacher will… Continue reading