Handling a case of (far- from-) collegial one-upmanship

I work with some very complicated individuals. It’s a about the nicest thing I can say under the circumstances described hereafter.

The account is not to elevate myself over others or be haughty; it is simply a practical way to wisely apply the dictum “But speak with a fool according to your wisdom lest he think in his soul that he is wise” from the Hebrew scripture in its book of Proverbs in the Aramaic Bible in Plain English . It is imperative to address such matters effectively as it tells of an unhealthy work environment that destroys collegiality and undermines the purported positive goals of any organization; in particular, schools

Upon returning to work after a bout with a nasty case of sinusitis, and, still recuperating, I was asked why I knew so much about two different topics and if that was the result of having to stay up late to study matters. I started laughing uncontrollably, forgetting for a moment about my headache and cough. First, it was an admission by this colleague that while, I may seem quiet, I am a keen observer. The colleague in question tried to one-up me for what is likely insecurity or unfounded competitiveness. As a result, I deemed it necessary to usher myself into an impromptu history class ; one my colleague thought was a mastered domain, but in which there were very obvious gaps. Also, it concerned the history of my birth land Aruba of which I had to know a lot for my history classes  and which was part of my final thesis in high school ( yes, I had to hand over 15 pages *and* defend them at the age of 18) Second, the laughter came about as a reminder that I do not “make extra time” for learning , questioning and discovering; instead I breathe, eat and drink education — in the fullest sense of the word– as a way of life. My background and some really dedicated teachers are responsible for this product and shows that things can be different. My thanks to them is eternal.

Fresh start

problem-solving team

“There are three facets of a classroom and school environment: 1) the physical environment, 2) the emotional environment, and, 3) the academic environment. Each facet must be intentionally designed and maintained throughout the school year. To establish a positive classroom climate, safe emotional environment, and to begin building community immediately requires deliberate, conscious planning and strategies.”


Curious bumper things

bumper things



There they were. I had been told about them, but wanted to postpone looking at them for as long as I could. I am scheduled to use them one day in the week.The dreaded moment comes on a Friday and that during the last half of the workday after the dreaded energy boost recess provides. They are trendy, versatile, even stylish; all in an effort to appeal to the incessant need for novelty by a wired, fly by the seat of your pants, fast-moving and boundary-crossing generation. A mouthful! And my mouth fell open when I saw them: flexible chair-desk combos on wheels….. in a classroom.My customary structured approach would be seriously dented being , ordinarily, not as pliable as these contraptions I was looking upon with great trepidation.

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I’m not an outstanding teacher. Nor is anyone.

Great reflection on the woes teachers face. While the blog post and the article cited therein tackle the bureaucratic demands placed on teachers in general and the resulting fallout , it might be sensible to devote some time to practical solutions. As stated by the blogger, teachers have a mix of good and not-so-good lessons and that is a good place to start thinking on how bureaucratic mandates can change to truly allow good classroom skills– if such a word does not exists, it should. Elizabeth Green in her recent book, “Building A Better Teacher” examines just that aspect. Here is a quote from a recent interview with NPR:

“We don’t treat teaching as something that people need help learning how to do. So we say this great idea, but we just mandate it. We say, ‘Do this tomorrow and figure it out on your own.’ That is really ludicrous once you understand how complicated the science of teaching is.”


Disappointed Idealist

Guardian Link

This article appeared in the Guardian this morning. There’s much in it I agree with.

 School leaders [] have been informed that this country’s teachers are failing, and that they must take charge of a lazy and unprofessional teaching staff, leading to suspicion within our schools. [] I often found that by 9:30am (by which point I had been at school for two hours) I felt I had been reprimanded five or six times in emails to all staff, or in departmental meetings, or staff briefings – all a direct result of current education policies.

This had me nodding along, and at some point in the future I’ll probably have a full spleen vent about the adoption of Cult of The Leader enforcement nonsense by rather too many SLTs. However, this is only a quick piece, and I want to focus on this :

I am an outstanding teacher.

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Swords into Ploughshares

A piece that encourages pause, reflection and perspective in light of the recent tumult in the world. Thanks to Wesley Hill for the post (http://bit.ly/1oyZJS9)

Swords into plowshares, literally

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A chap and his tapestry

If a chap can’t compose an epic poem while he is weaving a tapestry, he had better shut up –William Morris

© Radu Razvan Gheorghe | Dreamstime Stock Photos

I spotted in a quaint bookstore in a relatively inconspicuous alley in downtown Boston. Blink at the right moment and you might just miss it. Commonwealth Bookstore carries everything from the newest edition of a classic to a largely unknown treatise tracing the efforts of the British Empire to stave of the start of World War 1. At any rate, the following gem was found taped to a wooden box containing sundry reading material. I  thought it  apropos as an introduction to the eclecticism in which I revel and whose contours I hope will become more apparent on this tenuous venture into the blogosphere