Top 10 Posts of 2009

Have you gotten behind on your blog reading?  Do you wish you’d had time to read EVERY SINGLE POST here at Classroom as Microcosm this past year?  Or are you a new reader who doesn’t know how to get caught up on all this teacherly goodness?

Never fear – I’ve put together a handy list to help you get up to speed.  I checked out my stats meter for 2009 and compiled the posts that received the most hits in the last twelve months.  I don’t know for sure that these are the best posts I’ve published this year – maybe you can tell me! – but they’re the ones that made people take notice, for better or for worse.

1. Top 10 Student Excuses for Missing Class:

This post’s popularity is due in large part to Sarah Ebner at School Gate, who came across it and generously promoted it more than once to her TimeOnline readers.  It remains one of my favourite posts, because it reminds me each time I read it that my students are complex and interesting people, and that not all excuses are sneaky fictional attempts to avoid consequences!

2. 10 Reasons I Hate Grading Your Assignment:

A rising stat meter usually makes a blogger very happy: people are reading my post!  Hurrah!  In the case of this post, however, the rising meter eventually triggered a full-blown panic attack.  A lot of people were made very angry by this rant, in which I wax furious on green printer ink, 1-and-1/2 spacing, sloppy proofreading and unauthorized email submissions.  I also received some very nice comments and emails congratulating me on my uncompromising standards, but this post marks the first time, ever, in my life, that I wished people were paying a little less attention to me.

A follow-up post, in which I examine the effects of the negative feedback on my state of mind, was also high on the list of top posts.

3. Sulk and the 17-year-old Girl:

The saga of Mary, Melanie, and especially Marta begins here, and the anxiety of dealing with these difficult but interesting girls was more than offset by the pleasure I got from writing about them.  Later posts on the trio that also received lots of hits are part two of “Sulk…“, my wrap-up of several of the winter semester’s top stories, and a one-act screenplay of my final meeting with the three girls.

4. Who Says You Have To Go To College?:

The question of whether college is the best path for everyone has been on the table a lot in the past year, and this probably accounts for the popularity of this post.

5. Holden Caulfield Has Left the Building:

Have teenagers really had it with Holden Caulfield?  My classroom experience says yes and no.

6. Yannick’s debts:

I was surprised to see this post near the top, as it’s relatively recent, but the story of Yannick’s troubles and my refusal to baby him seems to have resonated with a lot of readers.

7. There Are Worse Things Than Dropping Out of School:

Another post that asks whether school is really for everyone.

8. If You Use This Phrase in Your Essay, You Will Fail:

Top 10 lists seem to always be a hit.  In this one, I enumerate some word choices that I’d be happy never to read again.

9. What I Did On My Summer “Vacation”:

This one came out in August, just as everyone was ready to start thinking about teaching again; maybe that’s why it received a lot of visits.  It’s a response to the 2009 Professional Development Meme; I had previously listed my professional development goals for the summer, and in this post I examine whether I met them.

10.  One Minute of Solitude:

After reading this post about how I implemented my friend Lorri’s “one minute of silence” exercise in my classroom, a lot of readers wrote to say that they were going to try it, too.  I didn’t maintain this exercise throughout the semester, but I may do it again sometime and stick with it to observe the results.

And, because I do love a good, justified rant, a bonus post…

11. Now You’ve Made Me Mad:

This one is worth it for the “angry kitty” photo alone.

Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and making my blogging so rewarding!

Image by Owais Khan

The New Semester: 10 Resolutions

Classes start again in less than two weeks.  (Primary, secondary and university teachers who are already back at work, I know what you’re thinking: “Shut up.”  Believe me, I know how good I’ve got it.)

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  However, one theme that presents itself frequently in my Buddhist meditation practice and my yoga classes is that of “setting an intention.”  Why am I doing this?  What do I want from it?  Where will I place my effort?

So before the kicks to the head begin, I thought I’d “set some intentions” for the semester.  What am I going to focus on when the going gets rough?

1. I will work hard.

Teachers will look at #1 and say, “Like you’ll have a choice.”  Fair enough.  However, one of my greatest struggles is that I resist work and resent it.  What will happen if I decide that I want to work hard?  What if I look at every stack of papers and every test that needs to be prepared and I think, “Here’s another chance to work hard, just like I wanted”?

2. I will not count the days until the end of the semester.

I need to stop wishing my life away.  I need to see my work life for what it is: the place where I learn and grow more than I do anywhere else.

3. I will approach my students as people, not problems.

Registration is in progress, and today I checked my student lists, which are about half complete.  So far, two familiar names caused my heart to sink a little.

Am I going to walk in anticipating difficulties?  Or am I going to walk in with the attitude that these students are complex, evolving beings who are bound to surprise me in one way or another?  If I can truly be present with my students, I can help them more and they, in turn, can teach me something.

4. I will meditate.  Every morning, if possible.

Meditation keeps me grounded and sane. It gives me perspective and helps me to stop working myself into a lather.  I have an early schedule this semester – my classes often begin at 8 a.m. – and I prefer to meditate in the mornings, so it will be tricky.  But even 10 minutes a day makes a big difference, so I need to work it in somehow.

5. I will take care of my body.

Exercise is the first thing to go when I get busy.  I love my yoga classes, but I often skip them when there are too many other things on my plate.  I also love to ski and to jog, and doing these things makes me feel better about everything.  Besides, I’m getting married in September, and I’d like shopping for a dress to be something other than a continuous pounding of my self-esteem.  So I need to exercise, if not every day (that might be asking too much), then at least as regularly as I can manage.

6. I will not forget about my friends.

I find it very difficult, during the semester, to maintain a social life outside of work.  I’m too stressed to enjoy parties, and even scheduling coffee or dinner feels like a chore rather than a break.  I need to change my perspective on this.  My obligations to my work community are important, but so are my connections to my larger community. Spending time with friends gives me distance from whatever’s going on at work.

7. I will find enjoyment in even difficult or tedious tasks.

There are things about teaching that I hate.  It is possible to hate them less by taking joy in small or big things.

I hate grading essays, but I do like playing with different coloured pens, Post-Its, rubber stamps and other stationery bits.  I also enjoy methodical tasks like grading MLA formatting, where I don’t need to think, but can just turn on some fun music and check things off a checklist.

I hate dealing with conflict.  However, a conflict with a student is an opportunity to examine myself more closely and learn something.  If I’m stressed about dealing with a difficult person, I often reconnect with my meditation practice, do more exercise, write more blog posts, and generally invest in activities that help me work through the problem.  Difficult people can be seen as “enemies” or as “gurus.” If I can stop fighting the problem and instead sink into it fully and be curious about it, I can actually take some pleasure in the process.

8. I will take care of my environment.

My offices, both at work and at home, need to be cleaned and reorganized.  My apartment also needs to be thoroughly scrubbed – I’m actually considering hiring someone to do this.  I detest cleaning, but I also detest living in grubby conditions.  I need to set the world around me in order.  It helps me feel better.

9. I will be grateful.

I have a great job and a great life. I need to actively remind myself of that, again and again.

I recently made a half-hearted attempt at a “gratitude journal.”  Every evening, I made a list of ten things (or more) that had happened that day that I was grateful for.  It was never difficult to come up with ten things; my list often extended to twenty items and beyond, and doing it made me feel great.

Last night, The Fiancé and I watched a segment of Dan Gilbert’s “This Emotional Life” in which he presents some of the techniques of “positive psychology.”  Taking time each day to note down things that went well is one practice that positive psychology teaches.  So it’s not just me – there’s some scientific backing for this.  One way or another, it improves my outlook.

10. I will set an intention every morning.

There are going to be problems.  Teaching is hard, and teaching well is especially hard, because it involves real engagement with real people, and real people are challenging.  There will be days when my stomach will be knotted with dread from the moment I wake up.  Setting an intention for the day – What do I want to learn?  How will I set that learning in motion? – can untie that knot and allow it to blossom into useful energy.

In the evening I can then examine my intention and how it shaped my day.  If I carried it out in some way, I can feel glad; if I avoided it altogether, I can feel glad that I have the insight to recognize that.  Buddhists call this daily activity of setting and examining intentions “one at the beginning, one at the end.”

I need to post this list up somewhere, and add to it.  A fifteen-week semester equals seventy-five school days.  If I can engage in each day with mindfulness, curiosity and effort, instead of just allowing the days to happen to me, I may be able to love what I do all the time.

Even when I feel like punching someone.  Which is bound to happen.

Image by Chutiporn Chaitachawong

Education and the Meaning of “Growth”

Is education primarily about growth?  What exactly is “growth,” and does it always equal “education”?

The philosopher John Dewey defined education as an accumulation of experiences that stimulate both growth and the capacity for further growth. In Experience and Education, Dewey tells us, “…the educative experience can be identified with growth,” and further clarifies that we must understand “growth…in terms of the active participle, growing.” However, he specifies that not all experience is educative: “Any experience is mis-educative that has the effect of arresting or distorting the growth of further experience.”  He goes on to say, “…when and only when development in a particular line conduces to continuing growth does it answer to the criterion of education as growing.”

According to Dewey, growth is a process of change or evolution, but it is not, in and of itself, a positive thing.  We can grow in negative ways, and such growth can limit our ability to grow in the future.  Such growth is not educative.

As a student, for example, I can have experiences that lead me to be dependent on others for my learning.  If my early teachers teach me that “learning” involves parroting material I learn in textbooks, then I will grow in that direction, and when I leave formal schooling behind, I may have difficulty learning in other contexts; I will have a limited capacity to think independently and to learn creatively from non-textbook-generated experiences.

When our students arrive in our CEGEP classrooms, they have each had a unique set of experiences.  Some have had many experiences that have been conducive to growth.  Even if they are not yet cognitively ready to be thoroughly “independent” thinkers (and Baxter Magolda would say that most of them are not), some have nevertheless been well prepared to become such independent thinkers, because they have been asked to grapple with challenging, open-ended tasks in the past, and have received some sort of satisfaction or reward for their efforts.  They may also have models – parents, older siblings, teachers, coaches – who have demonstrated for them how to be learners, who have modeled curiosity, hard work, creativity, and excitement about new knowledge.  These students arrive already knowing how to learn.

Some of our students, however, have been stunted in their growth; they have grown in directions that have cut them off from further evolution.  They are easily frustrated and angered by difficult questions and tasks.  They want to be told what to think, or else they are infuriated when their ideas are challenged.  Some shut down, and stop coming to class, or to school altogether.  Perhaps this is because “growth” is a frightening prospect for some of them – growth inevitably involves leaving old ways and knowledge behind, and for some students this may seem daunting or impossible.  Or is it, in some cases, because their previous experiences have not equipped them for the kinds of analysis and critical thinking we ask of them, and we are not providing them with new experiences that will help bridge that gap?

Let’s imagine, for example, that I return a student’s first paper, and that student has failed.  Let’s imagine that the student becomes frustrated and angry, and accuses me of “grading too hard.”  I’m likely to become irritable and defensive in such a situation, but if I step back, I may be able to surmise that this student has never learned how to deal productively with failure – his past growth in this area has led him to an impasse.

It is my job, as his teacher, to teach him how to learn from failure – to provide him with an experience of failure that leads to learning.  What can I say to him that will turn this experience from a negative to a positive one?  That is, how can I transform this experience from a blow to his self-esteem into an opportunity for growth?

How can failure help us grow?  For one thing, it can give us the impetus to ask important questions.  If I understand this, I can communicate this to the student.  I can ask him, “Why do you think this paper should pass?  Why do you think it failed?  What comments have I made that you don’t understand?  Look over the first page of the paper, and then ask me three questions.”  It’s possible that this student has never been given the opportunity to ask sincere questions about his failures, nor has he received sincere answers.  Students who learn from failure almost always have this skill, and it’s a skill that is fairly easy to demonstrate, if not always easy to absorb.

Other qualities – the willingness to take risks, an openness to new ideas, an ability to identify what one doesn’t know, a talent for organization – may seem like innate characteristics, but it would be interesting to analyze the degree to which these qualities are in fact skills that are learned through appropriate experience, and to consider ways that students might be able to learn such skills even if they arrive in CEGEP without them.

If we see an effective education as a series of experiences that induce growth and that lead to further growth, then our role as educators, along with every moment we spend in the classroom, becomes transformed.  We are not just teaching students a pile of material; we are teaching them how to learn, and how to continue to be learners.

Image by Kym McLeod

This post was adapted from a reflection I originally wrote  for a Philosophy of Education course.

Arrows Into Blossoms

I’ve just finished reading Pema Chodron’s Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears. If you’re not familiar with Chodron, she is perhaps the world’s most famous Tibetan Buddhist American nun, and her works are meant to help Westerners understand the basic precepts of Tibetan Buddhism and apply them usefully in their own lives.  I found Taking the Leap, like all her books, inspiring, reassuring, and helpful.

At one point, almost obliquely, she describes a famous Buddhist image that I hadn’t heard of before.  Before mentioning the image specifically, she brings up a part of the story of the Buddha that many people are familiar with.  Most of us know that when the Buddha sat under the bodhi tree (where he eventually attained enlightenment), Mara, “the evil one,” came along and tempted him with beautiful women, delicious food, insults, and all other sorts of distracting objects.  In discussing this part of the Buddha’s story, Chodron says

In traditional versions of the story, it’s said that no matter what appeared, whether it was demons or soldiers with weapons or alluring women, he had no reaction to it at all.  I’ve always thought, however, that perhaps the Buddha did experience emotions during that long night, but recognized them as simply dynamic energy moving through.  The feelings and sensations came up and passed away, came up and passed away.  They didn’t set off a chain reaction.

This state of being – the ability to experience emotion without being “hooked” by it, without being dragged into a whole self-feeding narrative of, say, anger, self-righteousness, and more anger – is the subject of Taking the Leap and some of Chodron’s other works.  It’s also a state of mind that I am profoundly interested in, and one that I’d be willing to spend the rest of my life working toward.

For example, I’ve been seething because the students in my most difficult class absolutely refused to cooperate with an activity I asked them to do last week, an activity that is essential in preparing them to do their next assignment.  They talked when I asked them to work alone and quietly.  They insisted that they “had to leave class now” and that they should be allowed to finish the assignment at home, even though I had clearly explained that this activity was practice for an essay they would have to write entirely in class.  They refused to press themselves beyond the simple declaration that “I don’t understand this story.”

I couldn’t seem to calm my irritated feelings about this, my sense that their stubborn resistance was a personal attack.  There is, of course, room to explore whether the assignment I gave them was too difficult, whether they haven’t had adequate preparation, whether I am expecting something they can’t deliver.  But the deeper problem is that I was angry with them, and couldn’t seem to shake it.

It is possible to see any difficult situation in our lives as an attack from Mara.  We are under threat, and we can react angrily or with panic or self-loathing.  But there is another possible approach.  We can see the attack as food for our growth, as an opportunity for us to develop loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity.  Difficulties are fertile soil for training our minds, and can therefore be greeted with eagerness and gratitide.

A situation like mine, for example, is an opportunity to develop compassion.  The day after this frustrating lesson, my Philosophy of Education teacher returned an assignment to me, and I didn’t do as well on it as I always expect to do on my coursework.  In reading through his comments, it became clear to me that I simply hadn’t understood the criteria he was evaluating me on, and didn’t understand the process of philosophical inquiry he wanted me to go through – in fact, I realized that I didn’t have a clear idea of what a “philosophical approach” entailed, and so had no way of engaging in it.  At first, I was furious and defensive.

And then I remembered my class from the previous day.  This is exactly what they were feeling, I realized.  They were feeling it for a number of different reasons, and the fact that they don’t understand is due to a number of factors that they could have controlled – by showing up to class more often, for example – but the feeling is the same.  I get it.  And understanding where they’re coming from, and why, can relieve some of my feelings of helplessness and irritation.

After Chodron retells the above snippet of the story of the Buddha, she mentions the image I’ve taken all this time to get to.  She says

This process is often depicted in paintings as weapons transforming into flowers – warriors shooting thousands of flaming arrows at the Buddha as he sits under the bodhi tree but the arrows becoming blossoms.

Immediately after reading these lines, I put the book down and ran to Google Images to find a depiction of this moment.  At first, I was less than satisfied with the images I found; none of them captured the beautiful scene in my imagination, the blazing arrows morphing into a shower of soft flowers and cascading around the Buddha like snow.  If I could even hold a pencil steady I would try to draw or paint it myself, but that isn’t possible.  Finally, though, I found this image, by the artist Austin Kleon:

buddhaflowersarrows

He describes the process of creating this image, a tattoo for a friend, here.  If I someday decide to get a tattoo, I may ask permission to use this.  In the meantime, I may have to post it on the cover of my course binder, to remind myself that every challenge can be transformed into flowers if I can only see it, not as a battle to be fought, but as an opportunity for growth and for deeper understanding of the human mind and the human condition.

This doesn’t mean I can make my students do what I want.  But maybe it means I can suffer less as I try to help them.

Grammar Grief

boredwithgrammarWhat do you do with a problem like grammar?

I’m teaching two sections of a Preparation for College English course.  These courses are designed for students whose first language is not English, and whose level of written English is too poor for them to manage in a 101 course.

At the end of the course, in addition to other assessments, they need to complete a grammar test involving mostly error correction.  We therefore need to spend time doing grammar exercises.

Now, I like grammar exercises.  To me, a grammar exercise is as much fun as a crossword puzzle, and much less cryptic.  During the years I studied French in university, I never resented having to do grammar work.

But I don’t really believe that doing grammar exercises is the best way to improve one’s writing.  I’d rather be integrating the grammar work less obtrusively into more holistic reading and writing activities. However, beyond doing writing exercises that apply the rules we’ve been studying, I’m not sure how to do this.  What’s more, the grammar test looms large, so they have to have practice doing exercises, because they will be tested on their exercise-completing skills later.

Regardless of how much I enjoyed studying grammar, I did have some terrible grammar teachers, and some good ones; when I first started teaching ESL years ago, I strove to be one of the good ones, and I thought I had succeeded.  I lectured energetically and humourously on grammatical rules.  I demanded active student participation and encouraged debate about complexities, exceptions and oddities.  In time, I had an enormous wealth of grammatical knowledge and was able to communicate it in ways that got through to students.  And we applied the principles by playing games and doing writing exercises that were not only enjoyable but effective.

This semester, it all seems to be falling flat.

One of my classes is quiet and diligent.  They always seem to have their homework done and they participate without hesitation as we work our way through the lectures and exercises.  All but the most polite, however, have glazed eyes.

In the other class, grammar time is snore time.  Half the students sleep openly on their desks as soon as I flick the lights off to show an overhead projection.  I literally have to wake them up to get them to read out a sentence or write on the board.  They make no bones about telling me that they haven’t done the homework and so “can’t write the answer;” I reply that if they know the material so well that they didn’t need to do the exercise, then surely they can just answer on the fly; they groan and write something, anything, in order to return to their seats.

Some of the students know some of the material pretty well already, and they do fine on the tests (although they don’t necessarily apply the principles well in their own writing).  But some of the students really need to do this work, because they’re struggling.  Some of these struggling students are attentive at grammar time, but some of them are not.

How can I make grammar, if not necessarily fun, at least engaging and challenging?

Image by sanja gjenero

One Minute of Solitude

solitude
Two of my three classes this term have been, so far, focused yet energetic, respectful yet lively. The third has been a bit of a pain in the ass.

This class meets from 4-6 in the afternoon – the worst possible time. They’re tired. I’m tired. Their brains are buzzing from a day’s worth of Red Bull and adolescent drama. They’re so done with learning.

What’s more, there’s a little gang of boys who seem to find a lot of stuff funny. I’m not sure, but from a couple of murmured, oblique exchanges that I’ve caught in passing, I’m beginning to think this has something to do with physical attributes of mine that they like.

Also: this is a remedial English class, and so far the work we’ve been doing has foundational (read: pretty easy.) Some of them are bored.

All this makes for a frenetic, nervous and silly atmosphere. After our second meeting, it became clear that this was going to be a continual problem if I didn’t do something to nip it in the bud.

What? I wondered. I stewed about it for a while. Should I throw people out? Should I give a speech? (Past experience suggests that speeches don’t work.) Should I separate the silly boys to the four corners of the room? Should I barrel through material that some students need to focus on so that other students won’t be bored?

And then I remembered something that my friend Lorri mentioned a while ago – I think she wrote it in a comment to a specific post, but I’ve searched and can’t find it. (Lorri, if you’re reading, and you remember, maybe you can point me to it…) Lorri said that begins her classes by allowing the students to shuffle around, chatter, etc. for about five minutes. Then she asks them to sit for one minute in complete silence before they take a deep breath and begin.

This, I thought, seems like a way to, if not eradicate the squirms and giggles, at least keep them more or less in check – to start on a calmer ground, so that escalation will be minimal.

So yesterday afternoon, when I was writing the class agenda on the board, I called the first item “One Minute of Solitude.” I then asked the students to make sure their desks were separated into rows and their cell phones were turned off and put out of sight.

“Last class,” I explained, “I was observing you. I noticed that there was a lot of very nervous energy in the room. It’s late in the day, people are tired , it’s hard to focus, people can’t stop laughing. So I want to do an exercise with you that I sometimes do with late classes. I want you to close your eyes. You can put your head down on your desk if you want. I’m going to turn out the light. And I want you to sit silently for 60 seconds. I’m going to time it, and if there are any distractions – if anyone speaks, if anyone’s cell phone goes off, if someone knocks on the door because they’re late – we’re going to start again.”

“Are we do this for a reason?” Khawar asked.

“Yes,” I said. “A nervous, agitated mind is not a good learning mind. Energy and enthusiasm are good; agitation is not. You’ve all been very busy all day, and your minds are busy too. This is a way to settle our minds so we can learn better.”

I turned out the light. I flicked my iPod stopwatch and said, “Go.”

60 seconds of silence is long. At about the 40 second mark, a couple of students shifted impatiently and looked around, but no one made any noise. And when the minute was up, I quietly said, “That’s it,” and turned the lights back on. They lifted their heads blurrily.

“How did that feel?” I asked.

“Calm,” Khawar said.

“Long,” Philippe said.

“We’re going to do this every class,” I said. “For some of you, it might be the only 60 seconds of calm you have all day. I hope maybe you’ll come to enjoy it.”

Did it help? I think it did, a bit. The major failing was that two of the boys who most needed this exercise came late, and so didn’t do it; as soon as they walked in, the energy in the room ramped up again. However, it never quite reached the height of foolishness that it had the class before, and overall, the work got done and the wasted time was minimal.

I’m a bit nervous about starting every class this way, but I’m hoping that, instead of becoming tedious, it really will be a tiny oasis of peace for some of them. And perhaps some of them will learn that if they can’t sit still and quiet for 60 seconds, it’s probably causing them some problems that they should really address…

Image by barunpatro

how I saved my teaching career part 7: meditate!

The penultimate post in my series “How I Saved My Teaching Career” appeared on School Gate this morning.  In this post, I describe how learning to meditate made me a better teacher.

changing the world one comment at a time

buildSome of my Twitter contacts (particularly Shelley S. Terrell, or @ShellTerrell, who keeps the great blog Teacher Reboot Camp) have been encouraging me to sign up for the “One Comment a Day” project.

This project was developed by Andrew Marcinek, who posts about it here. The premise: once a day, leave a constructive comment on an education blog and tweet about your comment, using the hashtag #ocp to signal that your comment is a part of the project.

When I first read Marcinek’s post, I thought, Well, that’s a great idea, but I already leave many comments on blogs, and tweet (and blog) about some of them; why should I sign on to systematize something I’m already doing?

My attention was called back to the project by a tweeter today, and my perspective has changed a little.

In particular, in rereading Marcinek’s post, I was struck by the emphasis on positivity. For example:

I read the post, processed the information and responded constructively. Simple. Painless. Helpful.

…pick one blog a day…and leave a positive, insightful comment for the blogger.

Post a comment that is insightful and constructive.

Last week I had a trying guest blogging experience with a load of commenters who, despite their intelligence, expertise, and genuinely interesting perspectives, were not constructive or positive in their comments.

It got me thinking about the methods of argument, criticism and interaction that I value and that I try to foster in my classroom. (A subsequent post tried to elucidate my views on those topics; coincidental, because that post had already been planned, but timely.)

So when I went back to Marcinek’s post today, it struck me that the One Comment Project is an invaluable exercise for teachers. After all, isn’t this what we try to do for our students – to give them feedback that opens them up to learning? Point out what they did right, and suggest ways that they could do even righter? Ask sincere questions about what we don’t understand or agree with, and listen, with attention and curiosity, to their answers?

So I’m going to participate in the One Comment Project, and I encourage other teacher bloggers out there to do the same. Think of it as warming up for the new school year.

My first comment will be on the One Comment Project post, and it will be to tell Andrew Marcinek what a great service he is asking us to do for one another.

Image by Carsten Schlipf

Dear Auntie Siobhan #7: Helicopter Parent. Help!

My final guest post at Change.org’s education blog went up this morning. Today: what do I do when my (college) student’s parent won’t leave me alone?

Big thanks to Clay Burell for inviting me to guest blog this week while he’s moving to Singapore and writing a (no doubt fabulous) book.

“Dear Auntie Siobhan” will be a continued, if irregular, feature here at Classroom at Microcosm, so if you have questions you’d like to see discussed, send them to me at siobhancurious@gmail.com.

And thanks so much for all your support, feedback and general participation!

Ask Auntie Siobhan #6: My Students are Passionate, but It Can Get Out of Hand

This morning at Change.org, Auntie Siobhan gives her thoughts on the question, “How can I encourage passionate engagement in my classroom without encouraging aggression?”

It’s been quite a ride! My stint at Change.org ends tomorrow, but if you have questions for Auntie Siobhan, feel free to send them along, and she will respond here in the coming weeks.