Fads and Fetishes; Choices and Committments

"These people drop every ball they pick up." --A Beloved Former Colleague, speaking about our administration How many ideas do you think there are for improving the academic achievement of low-income, minority students? Nevermind...It's too many. Let's make it smaller. How many ideas do you think there are for doing vocabulary work before a difficult reading? (Then multiply these ideas by a differentiation factor.) How many ideas are there about the best student data to track and how to track Read more [...]

In Must We Trust

Sometimes I can't quite put my finger on it...why my school is such a crappy place to work. But most of the time it's easy. Here is a relatively subtle example from just today. Every Monday morning we get the [Your School Name Here] Bulletin in our boxes and in email. It's very small. One sheet of paper printed on front and back in black and white. I'm looking at it right now. Most of it is probably white space. Then there is a three-inch header, a couple of pictures, a couple of calendar sidebars, Read more [...]

Success: More Questions Than Answers

How do I think about what I do? How do I gauge my professional success? It seems like everything I do disappears...good or bad. I teach a lesson. It sucks. And it's gone. I teach a lesson. It's awesome. And it's gone. What is a successful teacher? One who has simply survived 5, 10 or 30 years? One who writes kick-ass lesson plans and turns them in on time, every time? One who has become a principal? One who executes appropriate interventions and is able to provide documentation of said interventions? Read more [...]

Teachbad Sings: I Hate Children

Hello, Everybody! Here's something new. It's a song I wrote about my first day as a teacher. I started as a frightened sub in a sixth grade class; hoping to do it for just one day, or maybe the week. I got my ass chewed up pretty bad. That was in 2003. And now here we are. Anyway, the song is called "I Hate Children". It's the only song I've ever written and I have learned just enough guitar to play it not so well. Plus, I don't really sing. So this should be good. In the video I am wearing a disguise Read more [...]

Teacher Fakes Bomb Threat To End Faculty Meeting

FAKE EDUCATION NEWS Louisville, KY Just off the grounds of Fairdale High School in Louisville, KY a makeshift banner has been hung in honor of 11th grade English teacher Jason Cooley. The banner reads simply: "Thank You". Flowers are strewn about, below and around the banner. An enormous heart has been constructed out of what appears to be PowerPoint handouts. A small group of teachers sits to one side in a circle with candles alight. They are singing. Mr. Cooley, 29, has been arrested and charged Read more [...]

Happy Holidays, Teachers!!

Just a quick note to wish all of you all the best during the season of Christmakwanzikah. Enjoy your break. I know you have earned it. I just finished grading a bunch of papers and I am ready to party a little bit. I've got family in town. My brother-in-law is into making up his own cocktails. Cheers to that. We are cooking up a turkey tonight (for some reason). Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, will be a traditional multi-course Polish meal (no meat, fish only) and opening of the presents. That night, Read more [...]

Arrogance and Education Reform

Here is what bugs me about education reform. It is arrogant, ahistorical, and willfully dishonest. Arrogant: Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, and any number of millionaires, billionaires, short-time former-teacher-reformers and really just about anybody at all now feels free to opine about what is wrong with American education and how to fix it. (Surprise! Turns out the problem is teachers in districts where hardly anybody knows who their dad is. Just by chance.) The arrogance of the movement is that Read more [...]

Principal Seeks to Replace Student Body, Improve Scores

FAKE EDUCATION NEWS --Kansas City, KS In a bold move sure to spark debate in political and education circles, Karen Herbst, principal of J.C. Harmon High School in Kansas City, KS, is making a most unusual request. Principal Herbst has asked the Kansas State Commissioner of Education, Dr. Diane DeBacker, to replace the entire student body at J.C. Harmon High School with students from another high school where test scores are higher. In a letter to the Commissioner, Principal Herbst writes: Standardized Read more [...]

Your Questions: Answered

Dear Mr. Teachbad, How do I make my students, on average 6 grade levels below standard, become on average 3 grade levels below standard, in one school year? I am being told this is my SMART goal (achievable being the operative word) so I am sure it can be easily done, but nobody seems to be able to tell me how. It must be common knowledge because they all insist this is my goal, even though I tried to explain that I was supposed to set my own SMART goal. Plus my district says they are data driven, Read more [...]

When Truth Sneaks Up On You

It was a Tuesday just like any other. It wasn't quite Wednesday, but at least it wasn't Monday anymore. I walk into the 8:00am small learning team community cluster group meeting and take my seat. I don't remember today specifically, but I probably sigh heavily as I sit down. The meeting has already started. Someone passes me the sign-in sheet. I sign in. Today we are talking about data. Everyone reports out how many A, B, C, D and Fs they gave in the first quarter. It turns out that a huge Read more [...]