Show Me Respect, Or Else!

A few weeks ago, two students showed up for English class a few minutes late–not the first time–and shuffled into their seats, smirking and tossing their backpacks to the floor. While I began to explain the lesson, a hand shot up from the back of the classroom.  “Mr. B, can I go to the bathroom?”…

Should High School Students Have Jobs?

Here’s a typical scenario that I’ve witnessed over and over again during the last several years as a high school teacher: JP is an average student, receiving mostly B’s and C’s in school.  He wants to save up for a used car–perhaps a Honda Civic Coupe–and be able to pay for his iPhone bill. He…

Don’t Overuse ‘Good Job!”

If you finish your homework, I’ll give you a candy bar.  But if you don’t finish your homework, you’ll get timeout. If you be quiet, you’ll get five extra minutes of kickball.  But if you don’t zip it, you’ll lose those five minutes of recess.   Last post, I wrote about the ineffectiveness of traditional…

The Great Discipline Conundrum

Retiring after 38 years in education, my coworker and friend recently described his school days attending Catholic Grade School in Southwest Louisville, an area then–and still–a working class and comparatively impoverished part of town.  If his bangs reached too far, they’d get clipped off on the spot.  If his tie wasn’t tight, shirt buttoned to the top–even…

Reflections: Is Grammar Worth Teaching?

I teach English and I write professionally, but I don’t remember how I learned grammar.  I’ve always been a reader, and my father is an excellent editor who helped me with many high school and college papers.  But as far as former classroom instruction goes, I have zero recollection of effective teachers and teaching methods…

To the Presidential Candidates: Q & A’s We Should Hear

I cringe when I watch the Presidential debates.  My heart rate elevates slightly.   I keep waiting for questions and answers that nobody wants to hear, questions and answers that we should hear, but they never come.  Below, I imagine some questions and answers that, unfortunately, we’ll never see or hear: While the 20th Century provided…