Monthly Archives: September 2010

Day 17 Aim: What do I do if my students request me on Facebook?

DENY DENY DENY! Especially if they are current students. I don’t care if Mark Zuckerberg says his privacy settings can protect you, if there is anything I’ve learned about privacy settings on Facebook its that the settings are similar to the immune system. They react to the most prevailing threat at the time and can prevent against it in the future, but then something mutates and all the sudden students are seeing pictures of another teacher at your school dancing with two women inappropriately, and like Lucy, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do. Bottom line, just don’t friend them, ever. I don’t care if they are in high school and you taught middle school. I teach high school, and I don’t want to hear, “Hey, I’m friends with your friend on Facebook”. The only way I’ll ever friend my former students on Facebook is if/when the graduate college. So the first batch is coming up this year. Congratulation Class of 2008, you are almost allowed to be my friend on Facebook.

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Day 16 Aim: How do I know my students are taking their reading seriously?

They look like this:

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Day 12 Aim: Where should I go for Friday Happy Hour?

As a teacher, the term happy hour takes on new meaning. As the week comes to an end, the time for fun and merriment begins. However, on a Friday, you’ve been through a number of challenges this week and you’re tired. So, when choosing a happy hour, I always recommend convenience above all else. Now is not the time to go to that shi-shi club in the Meatpacking District or the new hipster dive bar in Alphabet City. One choice is always the local watering hole near your school. The positives? It’s a great chance to make friends with your co-workers and in all likely hood, it’s cheap. The cons? Well, you ever ridden for thirty five minutes on the six train after a few beers? The bladder situation can become tenuous. The next option is bars near your apartment. Easy walk home so you can leave whenever, you can gather the usual gang of idiots to join you, and if you are good, you can find good deals. Just moving to the Upper East Side, I’ve found Stumble Inn to be a great deal with a half-off everything happy hour till 7 p.m. The Gin Mill on the West Side has the same deal till 8 p.m. The final option, go home and get some sleep. Hey, sleep can provide many happy hours.

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Day 11 Aim: How do I balance my life?

As a teacher, you consider the sun lazy. Most days of the year we’re up and out the door before it’s even cracked the horizon, and stay up long after it has gone over to another hemisphere.  The frightening thing for teachers is that despite this, we still can’t get everything done on a given day. Oh yeah, and we need to work out, keep up with friends, navigate the dating jungle, update your fantasy football team, write your blog, and maybe eat something here and there. How do you do it? All you have to do is think what your willing to sacrifice for everything else. Me, I sacrifice sleep. 5-6 hours a night is plenty. Anything more is just gravy.

This post was brought to you by the letter C–for Coffee.

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Day 10 Aim: How can i formulate clever regulations for the classroom?

That Hammurabi was onto something. Rules need to be about accountability. If you don’t have rules, you don’t have order. If you don’t have order, then you don’t have control. If you don’t have control, then you concede the lands to the barbarians. In this case, the students are the barbarians, lest the whole “barbaric” thing. Continue reading

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An Exceptional Class

Earlier today I had to have one of my first conferences with a student after class. For now, we’ll call him Axel. Over the course of the class I told Axel to stop having side conversations and listen to his peers when they are speaking four times. For me, I should only have to say it once; four times is clearly over the limit. So I calmly walked over—knowing that we are still in the honeymoon phase of the year—and politely told him that his behavior was unacceptable.  Axel seemed shocked that this happened. “What do you mean, I did my work.” This is a response I’ve heard countless times over my four years of teaching. Each time I hear this response, I cringe. Each time I think about what this response tells me about the state of values in the United States, I hang my head in shame. Continue reading

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Day 9 Aim: How do I respond to personal questions from students?

“Mr. Harlow, are you married?” At some point this year I’m going to be asked this question. When the kid drops this on you, you basically have three options. The first option is the simple dismissal. Tell the student that personal questions do not belong in a professional environment like your classroom. Your second choice is simply be honest with the student. If you choose this route, I also suggest a snarky addition such as, “No I’m not married because no woman would want to listen to me talk about students like you every day”. The final option, and most fun if you can pull it off, is to lie to your students.  To pull this off, you need a story, and you need to stick to it. There is a teacher who will go unnamed who has told his students he has eight kids for the past three years. He knows their names better than Antonio Cromartie knows his real kids names. He has Jerry, George, Elaine, Kramer, Delicious, Isosceles, Tangent, and Hero. Because he’s stuck to this story, some kids believe him. If they don’t, well then they don’t ask personal questions anymore. Why wasn’t there a daily aim the past two days? I was busy taking care of Delicious and Isosceles.

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