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The black fog arrived early this year. In years past, it had begun swirling above my head some time in May. But here it was, a month before Spring Break, and it was already hovering over me with its tendrils reaching menacingly toward my skull. In but a few moments, it had invaded my brain, darkened my heart, and smothered my soul.

It was only February.

Anxiety awoke me nightly and filled me with self-doubt, worry, and fear. Adrenaline coursed through my bloodstream, jolting every single cell from its slumber. My pulse raced and despair left me exhausted and sweating despite the fact that I was rendered motionless, unable to flee.

Every thought in my head was about school:

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Posted by on in General


Micah was the last to leave my reading class this morning at the college. He is one of twenty high school juniors taking my class for dual credit.

I had written an online compliment for one of his assignments, letting him know that his writing was fantastic and definitely superior to the work of the other students in class. He waited until the rest had left and then quietly thanked me for the positive feedback.

For the next twenty minutes we dove into a conversation about writing - about things that anyone who does not spend their every waking minute playing with words - would not understand.

It was like I was talking to my sixteen-year-old self.

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teacher with gun 2 opinionatedmale com

Here is a wild idea! Let’s arm teachers! Just give them a few hours of training and tack onto their paychecks a few hundred dollars as a “bonus” to do the job of someone else who is actually qualified to protect the public. Just think of how much money we can save!

Why not? Our teachers have a pretty easy work schedule - seven hours in a classroom a day, lots of half-days and holidays, and summer vacation to boot. What exactly DO they do for their money anyway?

I’ll tell you what they do. A little bit of everything. All...at...once...

Making sure the kids get their breakfast. Making sure they get their lunch as well. Lesson planning. Creating meaningful activities from scratch. Modifying those activities to meet the needs of all kids. Disciplining kids. Counseling kids. Assessing kids. Calling parents. Attending meetings. Breaking up fights. Directing traffic. Cleaning up messes. Bandaging cuts from recess. Handing out mints to a child with a sore throat. Holding a trash can while a child pukes. Buying pencils and paper and glue sticks and scissors and books and anything else that the school budget cannot support. Smiling all the while a child talks back and then again as his parent yells that you are picking on her baby. Staying late to tutor struggling readers. Going home with only a few hours left to spend with your own family before they all go to bed and leave you working on tomorrow’s plans until you start to fall asleep at the computer.

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Posted by on in General


The new year is but 47 days old and, in that time, there have been multiple school shootings in the United States. The most recent slaughter occurred on Valentine’s Day at a Florida high school. Students and staff were tricked by the shooter into responding to a fire alarm and then senselessly sprayed with bullets as they streamed into the hallways. Seventeen young lives were extinguished in mere moments. The lives of far more were assaulted and altered for eternity.

Condolences have been sent. Candlelight vigils have been planned. Memorials will be temporarily erected, and flowers will be strewn all around them.

And nothing will change.

The cries for change pour from the strained vocal cords of victim families and members of the law enforcement community and members of the education world. These are shouted down by those who want the status quo untouched, unchanged, unchallenged.

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Posted by on in General

Most of my seventh graders know who Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was, and most have heard at least portions of his “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963. Most know that he fought for the civil rights of African Americans. Most rejoice in the fact that they have no school on the man’s birthday in January.

However, most of my kids do not know much about the Civil Rights movement or any of the other events of the past century. My college students are not much better.

So this year, I took two weeks to delve into this topic. We learned of King - his life story, his ability to speak and to write and to lead change. We analyzed the “dream” speech and also his final “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. That led us to a discussion of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy who spoke to a group of mourners on the night of King’s assassination. That led us to the story of Kennedy’s presidential campaign and his own assassination immediately after thanking supporters for his California primary win. And this led us to an emotional story of Juan Romero, the 17-year-old Hispanic busboy who held Kennedy’s bleeding head from the cold floor of the reception room as pandemonium erupted all around him.

My school’s population is primarily Hispanic, but other groups are represented as well - Caucasian, African American, Arabic-American, Asian-American - they’re all Americans. Here in the twenty-first century, many are a mixture of two or more races.

I used to say that, as I look out on my classes, I don’t see color, but that is not true. I see the diversity before me, but it doesn’t affect how I see or treat the kids before me. To me, they’re just kids.

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