Monthly Archives: December 2008

Day 72/73 AIM: See you after the holiday.

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Day 71 AIM: Why should I be glad I take public transportation?

Do Now: Watch the following video, and think of it every time you are impatiently waiting for the six train to come.

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Day 70 AIM: What should I do if I’m having a bad hair day?

Do Now: You’re running late and your hair is simply not agreeing with you. It’s sticking up and out and simply will not bend to your will. You are frustrated with the lack of control over your own body (or an appendage, depending on what we define hair as). Well, look Flock of Seagulls, you’re a teacher, and your obligation is to your students and not your mane. So run to school and forget it. Or better yet, use it in your lesson to demonstrate something. If you teach physics, explain that you spend the morning sticking a fork in an electric socket and have your students describe the painful effects on the human body and the frizzed hair. If you’re a history teacher, explain that you’re Albert Einstein, busy thinking of the Theory of Relativity. If you’re an English teacher, you’re Mark Twain, recounting Huck Finn’s journey with Jim down the Mississippi. Either way, your students will be so bored that they probably won’t even notice your hair anymore. And for those who do, tell them you’re not bothered by it. There’s a method to this madness, you say, pointing to your hair as you walk away. And as you do, glance over your shoulder at the now-confused look your student has, wondering if you were referring to the mop on top of your head or the class you are trying to teach.

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In Support of Arne Duncan

Yesterday President-Elect Obama selected Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan as his new education secretary. Many had speculated that Obama would choose Joel Klein, the NY Public Schools Chancellor/Overlord who has increased both the achievement and tension within the public school system. Others speculated that Michelle Rhee, DC chancellor, would have represented the change of the neo-educational reform movement. Rhee, the product of Teach for America, represented the no-nonsense achievement minded reformers who fought to increase the power of the administration and reduce the power of the union. Other scholars proposed Linda Darling-Hammond, the anti-TFA crusader who proposed more long-term reforms to the school system. Somewhere Wendy Kopp felt a tremor in the force, and she’s didn’t quite know why.

Look, while many of the education secretaries have their political baggage (albeit perceived or fabricated), all would probably agree that major issues face our system today and the position must be filled by someone able to reach across the political aisles for support. In the end, achievement is not a partisan issue; it’s something that all Americans are in favor of and support. K-12 education—which Mr. Duncan has advocated for—is the top priority of the Obama administration. It is obvious with these changes and the selection of Mr. Duncan that substantial changes are imminent in the educational system. The question is, will they be effective?

If Mr. Duncan wants to make the most of his position, he should start by analyzing what his competition has accomplished in their respective fields and the problems each faced. Klein and Rhee have had to combat militant members of the union, some of whom are so focused on teacher tenure that they forget the students lost in translation. And while Wendy Kopp and Linda Darling-Hammond might battle over pedagogical concerns, both agree that there is an achievement gap in America, and something must be done to mitigate it’s detrimental factors.

In the end, this isn’t an endorsement, but rather a recognition of a step in the right direction. Mr. Duncan is neither deeply-politically rooted nor brash. He seems to be the voice of reason, with the seems being the underlying idea of the former clause. Ultimately Mr. Duncan must consider that, in the end, his position as education secretary is unfortunately highly politicized, and it would behoove him to become settled right away in Washington and map out the strategy of teacher retention, student achievement, and dealings with that omnipresent teacher union. I mean, there’s no rush really: After all, it’s only our childrens’ futures at stake.

–Eugene Lee

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Day 69 AIM: How do I get out of bed when it’s almost winter break and there is snow on the ground?

Do Now: First, make sure that you wake up in time for an extended shower. You need that time to start the furnace in your body. Second, a good breakfast is key. We here at the ULOT recommend instant oatmeal. It’s fast, hot, and sticks to your ribs. Next, overdress for the walk to the bus/subway. Remember, you can always take articles of clothing off but you can’t add clothing once you’ve left your apartment. Finally, take heart in the fact that if there is snow on the ground, you won’t have many students in your class. It is a safety hazard afterall.

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Day 68 AIM: What do I do if a student throws a shoe at me?

Do Now: Watch the video below, where President Bush models the proper procedure.

The procedure should commence as follows:

Step 1: Duck

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Day 67 AIM: How can I inspire myself to get through this long week?

Do Now: Watch this video, and try to avoid jumping in the air with your fists pumping.

Unless, of course, you’re by yourself.

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