Five Daily Questions for Teachers: My Answers

February 12, 2015 by Bill Ivey

In her “Work in Progress” blog at Education Week Teacher, Starr Sackstein noted “5 Questions Educators Must Ask Themselves Every Day.” They are compelling questions, so as part of #loveteaching week, I thought I would have a go at them.

Am I excited about going to school every day?

Filed Under: On Education, The Faculty Perspective

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

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

Trans 101.5

November 18, 2014 by Bill Ivey

Transgender Awareness Month comes right on the heels of National Bullying Prevention Month, and in many ways that makes sense, as transgender people are disproportionately affected by bullying (as with street violence). GLSEN reports that fully 82% of LGBT kids have had problems with bullying, 44% specifically due to gender identification (reported on the nobullying.com website). GLSEN’s 2013 National Climate survey is available by download for anyone who might be interested.

In an age where definitions of different genders are becoming as fluid as some people’s sense of gender itself, it can be hard to keep up with the latest terms. For starters, (biological) sex is not the same as (social) gender, and 1-2% of people are born neither female nor male but rather intersex. Additionally, even though “transgender” refers to someone whose gender identity differs from that assigned to them at birth, not everyone who might fit that definition automatically chooses to identify as transgender. Moreover, though some transgender people (such as noted teen activist Jazz Jennings, here in an interview with Katie Couric) feel they were always girls trapped in a boy’s body or boys trapped in a girl’s body, not all transgender people feel that way or even identify within the gender binary. Partially blurring the binary are bigender people and androgynes, and within the Native American tradition, two-spirit people. But other transgender people might identify as polygender, agender, genderqueer, or just plain nonbinary, and still others avoid terminology altogether. Some may have a stable gender identity while others might be more fluid. Facebook, as many people know by now, offers a menu of over 50 gender choices, and even then, it is not 100% comprehensive.

Filed Under: gender, LGBT Support, gender stereotypes, social justice, gender equity, Transgender Awareness Month, community, Acceptance, diversity, Feminism, The Faculty Perspective, Education, transgender

Why I Came, Why I Stay

November 13, 2014 by Bill Ivey

The other day at Open House, one of the attendees, a public school teacher, asked each of us present on a faculty panel to talk about how we ended up at Stoneleigh-Burnham, and why we stay. Our stories were as individual as we are. My own begins the summer I was getting married…

It was the summer of 2004, and my fiancée and I had just graduated from the M.A.T. program in the French and Italian Department of the University of Massachusetts. Each of us had completed all the requirements for Massachusetts State certification except for the French proficiency exam. My fiancée called up to find out details, and was told that there was a non-refundable fee of $75 and it would be given on one of three possible Saturdays in August, one of which was to be our wedding day. The exact date, she was told, would not be given out until no more than three weeks ahead of time, “for security reasons.” We were about to spend a year living in France anyway, so we elected not to register for the exam. That meant, when it came time to apply for teaching positions, we had no choice but to apply at independent schools. And that’s how I ended up at Stoneleigh-Burnham.

Filed Under: Teaching, gender, All-Girls, On Education, Girls Schools, All Girls Education, Feminism, The Faculty Perspective, girls' school, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education, Admissions

Preventing Bullying

October 31, 2014 by Bill Ivey

“You’re not wearing a blue shirt.” The comment, coming from a Junior in her own blue shirt, was something of a test, and I got partial credit by cringing and saying, “Oh, no! I totally forgot!” At least my response showed I knew that wearing a blue shirt on that particular Monday was meant to draw attention to National Bullying Prevention Month. I did manage to wear purple on GLAAD Spirit Day to take “a stand against bullying and show [my] support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth” (GLAAD), and kept a blue pinky for a week in response to a tweet by @beinggirl; my photo even earned a retweet from the “Secret Mean Stinks” campaign, among others.

For the Humanities 7 unit on “Why do people judge other people and themselves?” one of my students did her individual Focus Question work on bullying. She designed her presentation as much to stimulate conversation as to present information, and she succeeded admirably: the discussion lasted over 45 minutes and might have continued even longer if class hadn’t ended. The students were not without empathy for bullies, coming quickly to general agreement that often, they simply didn’t know better because that was how they were treated, or perhaps they had deep-seated issues of their own and the bullying had nothing to do with the actual victims.

Filed Under: Teaching, LGBT Support, On Education, Parenting, On Parenting, community, Acceptance, bullying, The Faculty Perspective, Anti-Bullying, Education, National Bullying Prevention Month

#WriteMyCommunity (National Day on Writing 2014)

October 20, 2014 by Bill Ivey

Last night, Ben Kuhlman and José Vilson co-facilitated a Twitter chat on the National Day on Writing for the National Council of Teachers of English. You can search for it using the hashtag #NCTEchat and looking back in time to Sunday night, Oct. 19, from 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET. They very kindly shared their questions ahead of time. Here, then, in somewhat more than 140 characters (!) are my own answers to their questions.

Q1 - Do you write outside your job? What? Why? Does your writing contribute to explaining/defining a specific community? #NCTEChat

Filed Under: Teaching, On Education, social justice, community, The Faculty Perspective, 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

A Conversation with Spanish Teacher Jess Durfey

September 23, 2014 by Guest Faculty Bloggers

(A conversation between Shawn Durrett, Dean of Faculty, and Spanish teacher Jessica Durfey)

Filed Under: faculty, The Faculty Perspective, Stoneleigh-Burnham School

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