The Gift of Tears

April 14, 2015 by Bill Ivey

"Hey, Bill's crying." I nodded quietly as the student reading her poem looked over at me and then continued.

The Humanities 7 class had just finished reading Part Four of I Am Malala and I had been at something of a loss for how to run the discussion. It's a short, painful section that begins immediately after the Taliban shot her for her advocacy of Western values (such as girls' education) and continues through her hopitalization in Pakistan to her being airlifted to England. I arrived in class prepared with several ideas for how to handle it, but it was only at the moment of truth that I decided to ask the students to write a poem in reaction to the section, telling them they would read their poem to the class but would not need to share it with me electronically. They set immediately to work, and eventually it was down to two students waiting for the last line of their poems to come to them. The others were already working independently on other things while waiting, so I could hope these students would not feel the pressure to stop before they genuinely felt ready.

Filed Under: Poetry, girls' education, In the Classroom, Malala Yousafzai

A Very Good Place to Start: On Teaching for Respect

December 01, 2014 by Bill Ivey

“Excuse me, ma’am?” I turned to see a woman approaching me as I sat working at Rao's coffee shop. “Yes?” I said. “Can you please give me directions to (we’ll say it was La Veracruzana)?” I did, and she thanked me, acknowledged my “You’re welcome,” and turned and left. Clearly, she was either open or oblivious to the contrast between whatever it was about my appearance (hair? clothing? something else?) that had caused her to “ma’am” me and my baritone voice. Myself, at this point in my life, I respond naturally to either “ma’am” or “sir,” reasoning that in either case, someone is addressing me respectfully.

Respect is the key word here. It’s what underlies most successful human interactions, and what is most often missing when dysfunction takes over. It’s a firm underlying principle in each of my classes. I expect respect not only for each other (which they almost invariably show anyway) but also for fictional characters, reasoning that if we are generally talking about them as if they were real, we might as well carry it to the logical extreme.

Filed Under: gender, LGBT Support, gender stereotypes, Transgender Day of Remembrance, anti-racism, social justice, gender equity, TDOR, Acceptance, diversity, In the Classroom, The Faculty Perspective, transgender

Ending Well, part 2

November 28, 2014 by Bill Ivey

On the last of classes in the middle school, I made the following post to Facebook:

Filed Under: Teaching, All-Girls, On Education, Beautifully different, Girls Schools, community, All Girls Education, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, girls' school, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education

Ending well

November 28, 2014 by Bill Ivey

written Wednesday evening, Nov. 19, 2014, the night before the last day of Fall Trimester classes in the middle school.

Filed Under: School Happenings, community, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, The Faculty Perspective, Education

No One: Reflections on Ferguson

November 25, 2014 by Bill Ivey

It’s about an hour since the grand jury’s decision in the Darren Wilson case in Ferguson was announced, and I’m still feeling sucker punched despite being among the millions who had anticipated the decision and the millions more who could tell it was coming once prosecutor Robert McCulloch began his bizarre preamble to the announcement. Besides sharing their own anger, anguish, sadness, or frustration, teachers on my Twitter and Facebook timelines have also been wondering what on Earth they’re going to tell their students tomorrow.

We’re on Thanksgiving vacation, so I don’t have that immediate worry, but I do need to think about what we might do upon our return in December. As it happens, one of the six students in my Humanities 7 class who still has to present on her second Focus Question after break wrote her essay on racism and white supremacy. She had been unafraid to tackle difficult questions, including white privilege. And her essay included a powerful moment when the white resident of a predominantly black neighborhood, made the statement that “There’s no need to be careful if you treat people as human beings.” At that point, she saw a black woman emerge from a nearby house and added, loudly, “As long as you don’t have a gun in your hand, I’m okay with you.” (Huber)

Filed Under: anti-racism, social justice, diversity, In the Classroom, Current Events, racism

At the Heart of It

November 24, 2014 by Bill Ivey

Alfie Kohn is most definitely one of my educational heroes. Controversial as he may be, the controversy often stems from his relentless focus on what research tells us about what is best for students even when it flies in the face of common sense. And anyone who is all about figuring out what is best for students, and who has the courage to follow through on those principles (even if they differ from my own), earns my respect.

Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, On Education, social justice, alfie kohn, classroom management, community, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, Education

Nuance Matters

October 13, 2014 by Bill Ivey

(an address to the school on Columbus Day)

Filed Under: Columbus Day, anti-racism, social justice, diversity, In the Classroom, The Faculty Perspective, Current Events, racism

Sick Day

September 29, 2014 by Bill Ivey

(written Tuesday, September 23, 2014)

Filed Under: Teaching, All-Girls, gender stereotypes, The Girls School Advantage, social justice, gender equity, Girls Schools, diversity, All Girls Education, Feminism, In the Classroom, girls' school, Education

One Mind at a Time

September 15, 2014 by Bill Ivey

I try to be on the lookout for chances to react to blogs, knowing (as Bill Ferriter has pointed out on more than one occasion) that one of the highest compliments I can pay a blogger is to leave a comment or even write a whole new blog in reaction, thus showing how much of an impression they’ve left on me. So when Brianna Crowley opened one of her blogs at the Center for Teaching Quality with a writing prompt from a 30-day blogging challenge for teachers, the temptation to write my own blog based on the same prompt was strong.

Until I really absorbed the prompt: “Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).”

Filed Under: Teaching, gender, On Education, social justice, Parenting, gender equity, Girls Schools, On Parenting, Feminism, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, Education

NENTS 2.0

September 10, 2014 by Guest Faculty Bloggers

by Charlotte Hogan, EL Teacher

Filed Under: On Education, In the Classroom, The Faculty Perspective