Talking School

I didn’t intend my books to be textbooks—I think of them as cheeky guides to writing. Maybe that’s why students like them! I’ve been thrilled to learn that they are used by teachers eager to infuse their wards with a love of language as well as a love of getting things right. All teachers are welcome to join my mailing list (“Miss Thistlebottom? Not!”), where I share lesson plans and some ideas about teaching grammar, usage, and literary style. Of course, teachers in the trenches have their own tips and tricks—not to mention war stories. So this area belongs to those teaching students how to explore ideas, express feelings, and expand inchoate thoughts into intelligible essays and articles. If you’d like to share thoughts with colleagues, please send short essays or just lists of suggestions to me (connie [at] sinandsyntax.com). Perhaps I should rename this area “talking out of school”—it’s meant as a place for unvarnished conversation. Please join in by posting comments.

Designing lessons with dictionaries

I recently sent a letter to teachers who subscribe to my “Miss Thistlebottom? Not!” newsletter. It included a link to a recent blog post on digital dictionaries. In the letter, I asked teachers how they use dictionaries in the classroom, and whether there are activities or exercises they use to help students engage with word books.

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Nick Ripatrazone’s “Thoughts for English Teachers”

I usually use this section of the Web site for guest posts by teachers, but I’m doing a little cheat here. Nick Ripatrazone recently wrote an essay called “55 Thoughts for English Teachers,” for The Millions, an online magazine offering coverage on books, arts, and culture since 2003. (The New York Times called it an “indispensable literary site.”)

Ripatrazone has written six books of fiction and poetry. Despite his delicious Italian name, he teaches English, and has for 10 years. In the essay he shares his inspiring reflections on the profession.

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Kate Brubeck on breathing life into language

The first day of Fundamentals of Grammar for Academic Writers has met. No chalk in our room (or any others on the same floor). No administrative assistant in the office to get some from. And a pedant in the front row trying to engage me in discourse about the display of well-worn style manuals, which he has fanned before him like certificates of pedigree. (“I write reviews,” he tells me, “for Amazon.”)

But, all things considered, the day has gone well.

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Thomas Roddy on “looking for loveliness”

To recharge from a rough day of teaching, I read poetry. There, I can wrestle with something provocative, but concise. In “St. Francis and the Sow,” Galway Kinnell, imagines an exchange between St. Francis of Assisi and a sow whose fourteen piglets deplete her energy and esteem. St. Francis helps the pig to see that in her obligations as a mother, she fulfills her purpose. St. Francis is the sort of teacher I once strove to be—kind, unflappable, and gentle. However, the beneficent teacher I hoped would thrive has not survived; a crankier part of my persona has emerged.

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Greg Westberry in homage to a kid on a plane

A few years ago I was on a plane, flying home to Arizona, when I noticed a Mexican teen and two burly white guys that seemed to be his escort. Coming from Arizona, I found this picture all too familiar. I was watching an undocumented immigrant on the first leg of a deportation to Mexico, escorted by two ICE agents.

When the seat belt light went off, I got up, walked over and asked the ICE guys if I might talk to the young man. They allowed it. The 18-year-old had been brought here by his parents when he was three. America was his home, he was a good student with good grades, and he never broke the law.

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Ebony Haywood on her own grammar journey

I teach ninth grade English at Dominguez High School in Compton, California. In June, I completed my first year as an English teacher, and it was no small feat. Prior to my English gig, I taught music for nine years. The leap from music to English, from elective to compulsory, frightened me. My fear morphed to frustration as I tried teaching my students how to write. I didn’t know how to help them improve their writing. Then the rookie English teacher gods knocked some sense into my head and said, “Ebony, you have to teach them grammar—explicitly.”

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Thomas Roddy: letter to a young teacher

Not long ago a family friend asked me, “What is it that allows you to do what you do?” Without hesitating I told her that I felt teaching was my calling. Shortly after I started working at the inner-city school where I have taught for the last ten years, I realized that my love of literature alone would not be enough to sustain me. My students struggle to maintain basic skills; sustained critical reading happens sporadically in my classroom. To prevent quitting altogether, I needed something else to keep me curious. So I asked myself another question: “How can I help my students grow into their best selves?”

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An English teacher reflects on the value of being present


Buy Clomid Without Prescription, Not long ago a family friend asked me, "What is it that allows you to do what you do?" Without hesitating I told her that I felt teaching was my calling. This approach may not appeal to you, Clomid blogs, but shortly after I started working at the inner-city school where I have taught for the last ten years, I realized that my love of literature alone would not be enough to sustain me. My students struggle to maintain basic skills; sustained critical reading happens sporadically in my classroom, Clomid reviews. To prevent quitting altogether, Clomid no prescription, I needed something else to keep me curious.


So I asked myself another question: "How can I help my students grow into their best selves?" I also began attending a very progressive church, which has social justice as one of its central pillars. In one sermon, where to buy Clomid, the rector offered four precepts, Clomid from canada, borrowed from multiple wisdom traditions, for a path to joy. They have become my personal professional teaching standards.


I measure how successful I am against the precepts and not my students' test scores, which remain in the regions of below basic and far below basic, Clomid no rx. I offer these ideas to you now because they allow cultivation of a very valuable tool that is at the core of good teaching, Buy Clomid Without Prescription. They are show up, Taking Clomid, pay attention, tell the truth, and, Clomid pharmacy, do not hold onto results.


Showing up means you are in your classroom, Clomid interactions, prepared and ready to go before that first bell rings.


The Buddhist nun Pema Chodron suggests that looking at the sky in moments of anxiety allows us to keep our focus away from ourselves and on the world around us. More than anything such as a packaged lesson plan, or video, fast shipping Clomid, or treat (a-k.a. Buy cheap Clomid no rx, bribe) you might buy for your students, you have to work from the part of you that is as vast and generous as the sky. This sense of openness and optimism has been essential to my survival as a teacher in an overcrowded urban school, where can i buy Clomid online, where the average reading level of my students, Clomid coupon, even the upperclassmen, is the fourth grade.


Last fall, a student named Angel carved his name into six of my computers, buy no prescription Clomid online. Buy Clomid Without Prescription, To use the words of my students, I tripped. I called security and three deans and Angel's mother. Clomid mg, I repeated the story to anyone who would listen.  Inevitably, they confirmed how right I was to demand this child be fined and expelled and sent to jail. Over time, purchase Clomid, the story got faster and faster and I added more and more detail and before I knew it, Buy Clomid online no prescription, I had a libretto of a three act opera on my hands, but no solution to help this boy, who in a moment of madness made a stupid and destructive decision, buy Clomid without prescription. Meditating on the sky helped to access my inner expansiveness so I could welcome Angel back to the classroom, Where can i order Clomid without prescription, where he would have fewer opportunities for mischief.


Showing up means trusting that what you have to offer is enough. When I started teaching, I convinced myself that the marketplace, real and virtual, offered the bluebird-of-happiness lesson plan or the perfect book that would entertain my students and teach them at the same time, Buy Clomid Without Prescription. This is a fallacy. While it is true that some materials will be more accessible to students than others, japan, craiglist, ebay, overseas, paypal, there is no perfect book, Buy cheap Clomid, film, or lesson plan. If you bring your whole generous self to your classroom, Clomid brand name, you will become a fine teacher, About Clomid, but it will not happen instantly. The best way to assure becoming the teacher you hope to be is to have a mentor in your classroom to help you do it. Buy Clomid Without Prescription, A mentor will prove invaluable as that person can catch your behaviors and show how they are running counter to what you are trying to achieve. Once I did this, Clomid samples, I was forced to move my concentration away from myself to my students and the millions of ways in which they were avoiding the work I was giving.


The next precept is pay attention. Clomid maximum dosage, To pay attention you have to get out of your seat and walk among your flock. Many inexperienced teachers think that students avoid doing their work because they are bored and their material is not challenging; however, I have not observed this, buying Clomid online over the counter. Students avoid their work because they lack basic skills. Check your students' work, Buy Clomid Without Prescription. No prescription Clomid online, This means you have to pick up what you ask them to write, read it, and correct it, Clomid photos. If you want them to discuss something, Comprar en línea Clomid, comprar Clomid baratos, spy on their discussions, take notes, and share your observations, Clomid dose. Give quizzes after a lesson. Buy Clomid from canada, When you give instructions, ask one of your students to repeat your instructions to the rest of the class. Buy Clomid Without Prescription, Then ask another student to say the same thing in a different way. Repeat the process.


I am embarrassed to say how often I ignored obvious errors and glaring avoidances because I was concerned about violating students' needs for expression, Clomid forum. To prevent that, Low dose Clomid, follow the third precept, which is to tell the truth. To illustrate the third precept, Clomid treatment, I would like to tell a story.


Once, Generic Clomid, a student came to me because he was dismayed that he had failed a progress report. "Mister," he said plaintively, buy generic Clomid, "I do my work." I said to him, Discount Clomid, "Andrew, I can say this to you because you are not overweight, but for the moment, Clomid over the counter, I would like to imagine that I am your doctor, Buy Clomid from mexico, and you are my patient. You have come to me because you are not feeling well, and yes, you weigh 350 pounds, Buy Clomid Without Prescription. What do you expect me to say?" Andrew thought for a moment and said, "You'd tell me to lose weight." "Right, Clomid schedule," I said, "and if I did not I would be remiss as your physician to have ignored this fact. Since I am your teacher, I have to be honest and say that while you are handing in your work, what you are handing in looks as though someone much younger than you wrote it." Andrew giggled and shrugged, which were typical reactions for him. We finished our conversation by agreeing on what was necessary for him to improve, but he did not follow up on what we discussed and he failed at the end of the semester.


Three years later, he has returned to my class, a junior now, and his skills are better, but Andrew has still much maturing to do. However, his presence in my classroom is a gift because he has taught me much about the fourth precept, which is not to be attached to results. Buy Clomid Without Prescription, The best I can do is to be fully present for each of my students, and offer what I know in interesting way. The rest is up to my students. I have to accept the fact that they may not be ready to hear what I have to say, even if I think it is valuable.


Over the weekend I read a newspaper editorial that outlined, according to some think tank, what makes a great teacher. In short, the editorial claimed that the optimal candidate must have great intellectual prowess. The piece mentioned nothing, however, of what I have come to believe is equally important as a well-honed mind: a well-honed heart. The precepts I offer you here are leading me to that every day, Buy Clomid Without Prescription. The vulnerability of a well-honed heart has shown me in ways I never could have imagined the boundless capacity of others for decency and love and humor inside and outside of my classroom. I cannot think of a better way to spend a life than growing towards that sort of excellence.


I hope you have a great first year. Good luck and by all means, contact me if I can provide some assistance.


{Thomas Roddy, Jr. (tpr0741@lausd.net) teaches English and Journalism at Manual Arts High School in South Los Angeles.  He divides his time between the classroom, kitchen, and garden —when not working on perfecting his flip turns at the Rose Bowl.  This article first appeared in June 2010 in California English Volume 15, No. 5, pages 10-11. California English is a publication of the California Association of Teachers of English.}


 


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