the ferrous wheel

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Jun 22 2010

My last day

Tomorrow’s my official last day as a teacher. Sure, I might drop by the building purely out of habit throughout the summer, but tomorrow is the day I say goodbye to my classroom, which has been my safe haven, my hell, my entire life for about 730 days. It’s strange. I don’t know what to…

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Jun 18 2010


I have this kid who is extremely chauvinist. It shows in his behavior toward other female students, and how disrespectful he is to some of his female teachers. Anyhow, he and I get along fairly well, though I don’t particularly like him that much because – there’s no better way to put it – he’s…

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Jun 17 2010

Crazy things heard during portfolios

“The middle passage was called the middle passage because it was in the summer time and it was hot.” – Student presenting her history project on letters from the perspective of a slave. “Ms. K can you sign my paper?” Then, while standing in front of us, to another student, “What the f—? F— that…

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Jun 15 2010

Fading away

One of my students made this comment earlier last week: “It seems like school is just fading away, doesn’t it?” This school year is dwindling to an end. It’s portfolio week, but the turnout has been abysmally low – I’ve got at least seven students on my roster to present today, and only three showed…

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Jun 11 2010

Learned helplessness

A quick recap of what just happened in my classroom ten minutes ago: One of my students, A, has a portfolio prep packet. It just so happens that she lost the physics version of the handout, so I ended up giving her a spare copy from my chemistry classes. One sentence starter reads, “I can…

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Jun 11 2010

Last day of classes…ever.

It is officially the last day of classes.  Portfolios start next week, which means that time will be largely unstructured – kids coming in, presenting their final projects for each class, and leaving when they finish.  Part of me always wishes that the end of the year were more structured, so that I could get…

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Jun 05 2010

Senior Banquet

Last night was the senior banquet, a night for seniors, parents, and teachers to reflect on their experience. Last year I didn’t attend, since I didn’t teach any seniors. This year, I teach or have taught the majority of the seniors, so it was an incredibly significant event for both me and them. First, a…

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May 19 2010

Why I do this

Today is parent teacher conferences. This means that I will see probably 10% of my students’ parents or family members, and they will be the ones I regularly email anyway, so it will just be a reiteration of everything I’ve been saying. But anyhow, today I was sitting in the lounge eating lunch when I…

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May 18 2010

Finally, some action

On Monday I miraculously managed to get myself to work. I thought I would be okay since it was the only instructional day this week, with testing and parent/teacher conferences going on. And I was…until I walked out of my room and saw the two kids who I accused of setting the fire just strolling…

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May 14 2010

Can I really make it?

Today, I was actually afraid for my life. Let me preface this with a little back story. Yesterday was an insane day at the school. Three false fire alarms, so by the end of the day nobody was evacuating the building anymore. Fire engine keeps screaming down the road, costing us hundreds of dollars and…

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May 12 2010

Thinking about Weibaoshan, China

This morning my friend whom I met on a study abroad trip in China randomly emailed me to ask if I remembered one of the places we visited. “Last night I was laying in bed listening to the traffic noise outside and I remembered that we had gone somewhere in China where it was absolutely…

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May 06 2010

I feel appreciated :)

Yesterday was the real deal. I knew my principal was planning something for teacher appreciation week, but I had no idea how extravagant it was going to be. First, I find out that she hired her personal masseuse to come give 10-minute massages to us in the teacher’s lounge. The lounge was converted into a…

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May 04 2010

Going Paperless!

ATTENTION ALL MATH & SCIENCE TEACHERS! I have fallen in love with paperless teaching and wanted to share some of the resources I have created over the past two years. Let me start with a caveat: you will need access to enough computers for your students. I’m lucky enough to have a computer lab that…

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May 04 2010

Teacher Appreciation Week

It is National Teacher Appreciation Week, which ideally shouldn’t be just a week but a prolonged sense of appreciation for teachers throughout the entire school year. Nah, scratch that — I just wish I could get some consistent respect. And that they would do most of their work when I give it to them instead…

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Apr 22 2010

Modifying the already-invented wheel

It’s strange, but one of the things I will hate most about leaving this job is the worry that all of the resources I’ve made for this job won’t be used by anyone. I’ve written three curricula for chemistry, physics, and music (funny thing – last summer when I was asking the new music teacher…

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Apr 22 2010

Success Stories from Year 2

This year has been rife with struggles with a new, very different group of students, a new schedule, and issues with some of my less than competent colleagues. But enough of that. It’s April, there are less than two months left in this year, which means I am less than two months away from ending…

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Feb 19 2010

Do schools kill curiosity, too?

Today I discovered the importance of changing the routine up every now and then, and opening the doors to my students’ curiosity. First, I announced the very first science fair at my school. I was cringing and waiting for the backlash (“Why we gotta do this? This school be doin’ too much!”), but what I…

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Feb 08 2010

Meager improvements

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, mostly because the year has been like it started with very little variation – the job has lost a lot of its novelty. Before winter break, I felt like I had lost some of my drive to improve. In some ways, I had, because after being in this…

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I’m angry with my students. It’s the end of the first quarter, and half of them are failing. It’s not that I’ve changed the way I teach (if anything I’m much better than I was at this point last year), it’s not that I’ve changed the way I grade, and it’s not that my tests…

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Oct 06 2009

I confused you for a student…

Today I stayed after a bit during tutoring to unpack some textbooks and break down some cardboard boxes (somehow, attacking cardboard boxes with a pair of scissors after a frustrating day is wonderful). Of course, the second bell rang for tutoring and kids were still wandering the halls. One kid – surprise, surprise, the brother…

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Sep 28 2009


I keep thinking back to how I felt around this time last year. I think I went home a couple of times in tears. I know that definitely happened when my cell phone was stolen in November, when I still felt like I was floundering. Third period used to give me the worst nightmares, and…

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Sep 24 2009

They live on my street

One of the best things about living close to my school (besides the short commute) is that I always see my kids walking around. Last year I found out one student who I didn’t teach lived across the street from me. I used to follow him home awkwardly, trying to stay a couple paces behind…

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Sep 24 2009

80% Target

I actually hit it on my first quiz of the year. 80% big goal. Done. Only two sections of chemistry fell around 75 – 79%, and that’s easily fixable. My two physics sections passed it with flying colors. Can I actually be teaching well? In the first few weeks of school? No way! I mean,…

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Sep 21 2009


I held three kids back in my class today after physics. While I was doing the closing and asking for key points from the day’s lesson, I quietly handed each of them a slip of paper that said, “Can I see you after class?” They sat there in suspense as the rest of the class…

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Sep 17 2009


It’s funny how now all of a sudden my old students love me. LOVE me. I see them in the hallways, during lunch, before and after school. They duck into my room whenever they can to say they miss me, give me hugs, tell me how much they don’t like their new teachers. I usually…

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teaching kids to love science

D.C. Region
High School

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