One look at my hair situation could’ve told you why.
Paduuk, Noekie (yes, sounds like nookie, shut up), Snoek. I’m the original Snookie, apparently. I don’t even know. These were all things my mom called me. I have no idea where she came up with…
Sunshine, BK (Dad still calls me this—he doesn’t remember why but thinks I had a pair of British Knight tennis shoes at some point when I was tiny), Sissy (after my little brother was born, no one called me by my name for years), Pooh (as in Winnie-the-Pooh), and my grandma calls me Lamb
“Want to carry a concealed handgun to a crowded movie theater? The Republican Party will defend your right to do so. But credentialed journalists traversing a random block in downtown Tampa several blocks from the GOP convention, with scores of police officers and tons of concrete barriers still separating them from the delegates? Apparently that’s too much of a security risk.”—Conor Friedersdorf (via azspot)
“We were happy, studying hard. Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time. The stock came from Mitt’s father. When he took over American Motors, the stock was worth nothing. But he invested Mitt’s birthday money year to year — it wasn’t much, a few thousand, but he put it into American Motors because he believed in himself. Five years later, stock that had been $6 a share was $96 and Mitt cashed it so we could live and pay for education…
‘Another son came along 18 months later, although we waited four years to have the third, because Mitt was still in school and we had no income except the stock we were chipping away at. We were living on the edge, not entertaining. No, I did not work. Mitt thought it was important for me to stay home with the children, and I was delighted.”—
Oh my god, Ann! This sounds JUST LIKE my parents’ story! You know, the one where they were so poor that they had to work three low-wage jobs apiece, collect cans and newspapers out of trash bins, and raise my sister and I in the projects in order to fight their way out of poverty.
You know, the story, Ann! It’s the one where a business environment forged by hundreds of years of institutionalized racism made it impossible for my father to get a white collar job despite his education because who could trust a young black man back then? And remember how institutionalized the racism was that businesses would actually say that to his face? He ended up taking three jobs — at a deli counter, at a Burger King, and as a stock boy — oh yeah, he worked all those jobs at once. Didn’t he know that all he had to do was have his impoverished coal miner father believe in himself more? Lol!
That’s awesome that you got to stay home to raise your children. I mean *I* can relate to that seeing as I had to raise my little sister — if only my parents could afford to be stay at home parents — or afford child care for that matter! As a eight year old, staying up until midnight each night just so that I could wake my mother up in time so that we could pile in the car to pick my father up from his night job was so much fun! Of course, she was sleepy because she had to work multiple jobs too!
Since my mom was the only one who could get an above-minimum wage job on account of her being an “Oriental”, she worked as a secretary, at a printing press, and as a waitress in a Chinese restaurant six days a week. I wish she had just listened to Mitt!
Remember how the minimum wage was just $2.90/hr…. (Sorry, Ann. I meant “half a share of Mitt’s stock per hour”.) Remember how the low minimum wage meant that you could barely cover your government assisted rent, no-frills groceries, expensive utilities, and your barely working used car (made by Romney’s American Motors! How ironic!) just to keep up let alone put anything into savings? I mean, who has time to entertain when you can’t afford cable television or a home phone?
One thing that was different, though, Ann, was that my parents weren’t happy where you and Mitt clearly were. I mean, they loved each other and they loved us kids, but boy, could they argue! They’d get into arguments about things like how to spend the extra $1 they’d have left over at the end of each week. Do they buy an extra loaf of bread so the kids wouldn’t be as hungry? Fresh milk instead of watering down the can of condensed milk? Gas for the car so that they’d make it to the third job on time. Such silly arguments! They should have learned to struggle like you did. It sounds like you and Mitt clearly did have all the best days! Now that’s a real marriage! (unlike their silly interracial marriage — remember how people used to treat the interracial couples then like we do gay couples now? That was awesome for kids like me!)
When I see you on television talking about how you got by, in your basement apartment with your ironing board dinner table (how Bohemian!) I can’t help but think of my parents. I mean, it’s like you’re fucking twinsies. You should all go ride your Olympic show horses together. I’m sure they’d identify with your struggle 100%. You’d have so much to talk about!
Just in general. I don’t know about this school year. I was really excited about it up until last week. But my schedule is challenging and I already feel stuck-in-a-rut.
My first period class in on level biology, mostly sophomores with a junior or two and a couple of seniors. They’re mostly all right, behavior wise, but the ones that aren’t really really are not. I am struggling to develop a rapport with the older kids and to get them to do the kinds of things I want them to do. They wear me out, and I’m really worried that the class is going to devolve into just worksheets and drills because I can’t figure out how to engage them in better stuff. I don’t have any ideas, and it’s frustrating, and I have at my fingertips a bunch of stuff for biology (from colleagues) that I wouldn’t have to make. Too bad none of it is consistent with my teaching philosophy.
My ecology classes have almost no behavior problems at all. They’re wonderful kids! But they are really needy. The students are bright and eager, but the skills are really lacking, they have emotional needs, their English proficiency is low, and some have more significant disabilities. I enjoy working with them, but the preparation and delivery are very demanding.
And then there’s gifted, which I am totally skating by in right now. It’s the last class I teach, I’m exhausted by my other three classes by the time gifted shows up, and I have barely even made an attempt at their names yet. They’re fine only because gifted really got the majority of my energy last year, so I am mostly happy with a lot of the stuff I used from last year and don’t feel compelled to rewrite everything.
I don’t feel excited about going to school, though I don’t dread it. I feel way more detached than I did last year, although I really like knowing kids in the school (unlike last year). Is this normal? Am I far too cyncial? Where is the fall energy I love so much? Is it because my room is 8 billion degrees? Do I need a football game and apple cider? I’m investing the time, as usual, but somehow my heart is not in the classroom right now and I don’t know why.
“I remembered the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
The scar that renewed our woe.”—James Russell Lowell, “The First Snowfall” (Unitarian, poet, reformer)
I’ve been thinking all evening about what I can do to establish rigor in my “regular” (couldn’t we please call it something else?!) biology class (10-12 graders). Today in class they had a scaffolded writing assignment. Most did fine, some did very well, others didn’t do it/didn’t follow directions/etc.
Tomorrow I’m going to hand back the ones that were incomplete or did not follow instructions and tell the students that they have one day to revise/complete/re-do it and turn it again, but that I am not going to accept work that doesn’t meet the minimum criteria (i.e., “list three things” and they list one or two). I know some English teachers who give feedback on papers and just will not enter a grade for a student until the student has documented extensive revision and has addressed the feedback, and they’ve had success with that.
Well, I’m back (Tumblr brownie points for the first person to get the reference).
—Day with kids
—Realizing that I am in fact pretty damn good at kids’ names
—Writing assignment to grade
—Phone calls home
—Student question via e-mail
—“Stupid tired” feeling
—Post school “I’m only going to lay down for a half hour!” hour long nap
—Procrastination of grading
—I had a THREE HOUR LONG first period. Elementary teachers, you are saints—those kids and I needed our space after the first hour and a half. Another extended period tomorrow, though it is significantly shorter than it was today. I understand why my school does it that way, but I hate it. It makes it tough to set norms for that first period when you have the spend the first two hours handing out bureaucratic forms and your kids are in and out for class meetings and guidance appointments.
—I am SORE. I wore terribly uncomfortable shoes because I am still supposed to be wearing open-toed shoes and the only presentable open-toed flats I have have no support at all. My toe feels fine and looks more or less healed so I am going to try open toed (small!) heels tomorrow to see if that’s any better.
—I am in LOVE with teaching gifted biology during our hour and a half block. It flew by, and the kids were engaged the whole time with my activities. I never had to pull teeth for participation.
—I really like having my ecology classes in the morning. The kids are a little calmer, and I am much more alert and patient. They seem like a wonderful group of kids, and I’m excited to work with them all.
—I am a teacher of freshmen. I was much less comfortable with my class of sophomores/juniors than I am with the freshmen. I’ll get there; my only experience so far is with freshmen, so of course there is going to be a bit of a learning curve for me.
—Not a huge fan of having planning at the very end of the day, but we’ll see. Once we have a normal daily schedule and things really get off the ground it might get better.
—Because our biology class sizes are so ridiculous they created a new section of biology this afternoon. Although I am in favor of this decision, I feel like they might have done this last week instead after the first day of school. We are going to have at least 60 confused kids when we have to completely rearrange all of those schedules to accommodate one teacher changing her course load.
—I have a few of my ecology kids from last year in my biology class, and although I genuinely love them, today I had a talk with them about moving up to Biology Honors. “Yes, I’ll try it,” said one after thinking for a minute. Then: “But Ms., if I move up to honors, does that mean I don’t get you as a teacher?” (It does indeed, sadly. Still! He needs to go. It’s the best place for him.)
This year has already thrown me a few curveballs, and I’ve hardly interacted with kids yet. In-service seemed to take FOREVER. I’m still getting my head around the fact that tomorrow the craziness begins and my thinking time is pretty much gone until winter break.
I have one student with multiple, significant disabilities in my ecology class and I’m pretty anxious about it. The IEP is basically a book. He is more or less non-verbal, as I understand it, and he also doesn’t write and isn’t able to read. The necessary modifications are going to take a lot of time and creative energy on my part, especially because the student is currently on the diploma track. It’s essentially a fourth prep for one student. I’m fortunate to have a fair amount of support—the student has a personal aide, and I have a special education para and an ESOL co-teacher that period. Still, neither the aide nor the special ed para can make modifications, and my ESOL co-teacher will have her hands full helping me accommodate our Level Ones and Twos in that class. My special ed para is good, but there are several other IEP students in that class he will also have to be worrying about. I wish I had a special ed co-teacher who could take on some of the planning responsibilities. But. So it goes. I’ll figure it out. I am genuinely interested in doing what I can to help this student access science—it all just seems a little overwhelming right now.
It wasn’t really until today that the whole “three preps” thing sunk in. Everything will be fine, though—we just need to get started.
I feel ready enough for tomorrow. I don’t think I feel ready for the rest of the week or the rest of the year. It doesn’t matter, though: in just a few short hours I will be talking about science with kids again. There’s nothing quite like the confidence and purpose I feel when I get really caught up in actively teaching a group of teenagers, and I am more than ready to feel that again.
So it seems like there is a good number of teachers out there who are interested in doing a fashionable teacher week. Those of you who are not back just yet are still welcome to throw some outfits out here!
Since the number of teachers so honored will inevitably be limited in any given year, the program will create a much larger pool of non-recipients, many of whom will be hard working, praise-worthy teachers, who will automatically be labeled, at best, “average,” and…
Tumblr, privilegedwhitegirl embarks on a new adventure today! This brilliant twenty-something has secured gainful employment in her field and will be diving into a busy and important campaign season. And I am real proud of this girl and so excited for her!
It’s always a little tough when a loved one’s opportunity takes them out of your reach for a while, but luckily we’ve got iPhones and the interwebz and employment that will keep us challenged and occupied.
“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”—From the family of Neil Armstrong, full statement here (via visceralconnection)
“Caucasian students receive more than three-quarters (76%) of all institutional merit-based scholarship and grant funding, even though they represent less than two-thirds (62%) of the student population.
Caucasian students are 40% more likely to win private scholarships than minority students. These statistics demonstrate that, as a whole, private sector scholarship programs tend to perpetuate historical inequities in the distribution of scholarships according to race.”—
Hi there! I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for taking your job so seriously. I'm about a year or so away from finishing up my PhD in molecular bio, and my goal is to teach cell biology at a liberal arts college. People like you are my saving grace. I've done eight semesters of TA work, and it is SO OBVIOUS which students came from a background of dedicated science teachers, and which ones...well...didn't. You're awesome!
Hey iamlittlei, I'm a soon to be second year high school bio teacher in NYC and I joined tumblr to follow teachers, mostly to see that others have the same issues as me, but also to see teachers who seem to be rocking at life. You post REALLY good lab/project ideas, I was wondering if you'd be willing to share some labs with me or give tips about how you go about designing your labs, resources you find helpful, etc... Thanks! Good luck at the start of your school year!
Welcome to tumblr, and happy Year Two!
I do share labs occasionally with other Tumblr teachers, but I’m wary of doing too much straight file-sharing. If you’d like to see a sample lab, or if there’s a specific concept you’re struggling to develop a lab for, anyone is welcome to e-mail me at email@example.com and we can go from there.
As far as developing labs: I start with what I know. There are a series of “classic” biology labs that you do in high school and college biology. I tend to start with either labs I really loved OR labs I hated, and I revise based on the skills I think are important.
Example: There is this fairly terrible lab that many, many high school biology teachers use during the macromolecules unit. Students get food samples—anywhere between 3 and 12—and they “test” for protein, carbohydrates, simple sugars, and lipids.
I hate this lab. It’s a ton of prep work, and it’s a lot of procedure reading for the students, and they don’t get anything out of it. Oh look! That potato chip rubs off on that paper towel! It has oil! What a waste of my time. The students have gained no insight into the chemical structures or properties of the macromolecules, and they’ve not had to do any real critical thinking. I really detest this lab.
But I understand why teachers do it. It’s one of the most difficult units and it is an abstract unit and there really just isn’t a whole lot else you can do with this topic that is going to be accessible to high school students. I always swore I would never do it. Last year, my first year, the macromolecule unit approached and I spent a lot of time looking for ANY OTHER LAB and eventually I had to concede that there was no other lab and I had no ideas.
So I did a google search and I raided filing cabinets and I pulled together a version of the lab. I accepted that there was no “wet lab” I could do that would help my students engage with the chemical structure/function of the different macromolecules. I decided that I would use the lab as an exercise in scientific thinking rather than an exercise in pointless procedure following. I gave the students the food samples, all very straightforward ones, and the procedure for using each indicator. Their task was to tell me which indicator corresponded with which macromolecule. I created a puzzle that required the groups to pool their prior knowledge, use positive and negative controls, and carefully follow a procedure. I was then at least satisfied that they were doing something worthwhile. I’ve re-written the lab for this year to focus entirely on how to create and use controls, and I am actually really pleased with this year’s version.
My biggest piece of advice for lab design is to not reinvent the wheel. Someone somewhere has created a lab for every high school biology topic. Honestly, I just use google and I find a ton of stuff. Most of it is not usable in the form I find it, but I see a good lab idea or investigation and can the build a lab lesson around it. My textbook came with some good lab ideas that I was able to just revise a bit for my needs. I’ve taken labs from my colleagues and re-written them to make them more inquiry-oriented. Revision is easier than starting from scratch.
If you are trying to make a lab more inquiry-oriented, there are a couple of things you can do. The simplest end is to just make the students responsible for constructing their own data tables. You should model and scaffold as needed for your population, but if a student can make the data table, they really “get” what it is that they’re looking for. Speaking of looking, don’t tell them what to look for! Example: in the “classic” properties of water lab, students will read a little paragraph that says something like, “Water exhibits great surface tension because of the hydrogen bonding that forms between the molecules. This surface tension is visible when you drop water onto the surface of a penny.” Then the students drop water on a penny and then they all scribble “surface tension” in the post-lab and you all move on and no one has had to do any thinking. I make them drop water on the penny first, without giving them the vocabulary or telling them what to pay attention to—they just need to record their numbers and observations. They will ask really wonderful questions following this, and they’ll understand surface tension better because they won’t have just memorized it. I’m a fan of lab followed by lecture rather than lecture followed by lab. Students find it disconcerting at first, but they adapt and generally end up liking it better. It does take a little more cognitive work on the front end for the teacher, but it’s well worth the pay off.
nclark.net has good resources and ideas, though I find that the materials require a lot of revision. But it’s a good place to start. The site serendip.brynmawr.edu is pretty good too. learn.genetics.utah.edu has some good resources. http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/home.html is one of my favorite sites. These are mostly simulations or “dry labs,” but they’re already rigorous and inquiry-oriented. I tend to use their ideas and open source resources and scaffold down for my students.
In two days, inter-school calls (from the office, guidance, etc) have interrupted in the middle of class about fifteen times. I am not exaggerating. And it’s all the more irritating because they always start with, “I’m sorry to interrupt, I know you’re teaching, but..”
Is this normal?? This can’t be normal. It feels rude and unnecessary.
Ugh, this is THE WORST. I feel your pain. I despise getting phone calls while I’m teaching.
Marie Crous was a French mathematician who introduced the decimal system to France in the 17th century. She was an accomplished writer and teacher and by 1641, she published a study on the decimal system, although she was never cited by the academia of France during that time.