New York Teacher Archive: New Teacher

June 9, 2011

Yet, we test

Despite the great social and academic gains my students have made this year, they still wound up bruised and battered by the end of day three of testing. Several faces looked back at me from the tiny desks, big pencils in small hands, silently pleading for some kind of assistance in completing the tests’ tasks.

Making a connection

“Trying to keep 7th-graders interested in ‘Of Mice and Men’ can be difficult when what they’re really interested in is the girl walking by with a hall pass outside the classroom door,” says English teacher Mike Amari. Call it the Zen of teaching adolescents — trying to win their minds while their heads are all over the place — “It’s something you learn to work with,” Amari says.

May 26, 2011

Testing Miss Malarkey

Top 10 questions/comments made by my 3rd-graders during their first-ever set of English language arts and math state exams (aka “Why teaching in a testing grade may cause premature aging,” or “Why I have Band-Aids on all my fingers from nervously picking off the cuticles while proctoring”).

Things to do in June to keep your teaching career on track

As busy as you are at this time with grades, report cards and other classroom responsibilities, leave time in June to take care of items that could affect your professional and economic future.

May 12, 2011

'Get me out of 3rd grade'

Test prep in my 3rd-grade class has been extremely stressful. First of all, I’ve never taught “test prep” before, least of all to kids who have never taken “THE TEST” before. I’m convinced my co-teacher and I don’t know what we’re doing and if the children do poorly, it will be our fault for not adequately preparing them.

Hitting high notes in the classroom

His grandmother used to find him singing in front of the mirror, using a broomstick for a microphone. When he was 3 he started singing at church. Today, tenor opera singer Avid Williams, who has been making his living with his voice for 10 years, is making music at Brooklyn HS of the Arts. As director of the choir and the school’s vocal program, this second-year teacher has found his niche.

April 28, 2011

Toy story

I allow my 1st- and 2nd-grade special education students to bring small toys to school. The toys help keep them out of trouble at lunch with necessary imaginative diversions that they don’t get in school otherwise. They also lend a sense of security to the students, who know they have something genuinely their own in school with them.

Probationary teachers welcome UFT tenure workshops

Probationary teachers — those who have not yet achieved tenure — flocked to a series of workshops sponsored by the UFT to explain the Department of Education’s new tenure-granting process and what teachers can do to prepare for it.

April 14, 2011

What’s inside the mystery envelope?

A few weeks ago, I was struck with some inspiration before the kids arrived one morning and decided to create a “mystery envelope” to add some intrigue to my elementary special education classroom. After its debut, I hung it near our calendar as a reminder that “you never know what’s inside the mystery envelope!” and as a somewhat passive message that good things come to those who earn them.

March 24, 2011

Lesson from a former student

A former student came to visit me one recent Friday morning. I was taken by surprise when he walked in my door. “Carlos” was a student who had a hard time sitting still in the beginning of last year. He often needed help with things that other students could do independently. Yet he was one of the students I’d miss whenever he was absent.

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