Do We Oversell SEL?

Yong Zhao’s “Another education war? The coming debates over social and emotional learning” is worth taking some time to read and reflect on. Zhao explores claims from champions and challengers of social emotional learning. For me, Zhao’s thoughtfully documented article basically shows that SEL has potential benefits when modestly and wisely used, but it can also distract educators from effective education by becoming a “nonacademic common core,” as one of his sources asserts. That sounds like just about every trend in education. I’d love to share more reflections on this important topic and its relevance to my current context, but I’m currently in the midst of trying to wrap up a course, so that’s it for this short take.

Isn’t Everything Rhetorical?

While rethinking my junior and senior English courses this year in a straight-block schedule context, I’ve been struggling with how to balance unity and diversity as well as breadth and depth in the curriculum, hopefully having an engaging, knowledge-rich impact on students that will aid their long-term flourishing. I’m finding my stockpile of varied sources on rhetoric helpful for these improvement endeavors.

With Apologies to Bob Carter: Apparently, Poor Planning on Someone Else’s Part Does Constitute an Emergency on My Part!

I used to have quite a bit of optimism that I could study time management, productivity strategies, leadership, and plenty of thoughtful resources to get better at working with the chronic crushing Chronos of my setting. (Unfortunately, I don’t have time to blog about Karios versus Chronos modes of time, and how well that distinction could fit with a more humane I-Thou versus I-It approach to time, leadership, and culture.) I’m finding that I can only try to get through it.

A Simple Intervention for Internal Chatter: Good Morning, [Your Name Here]…. Get to It.

Returning for my 28th year of teaching high school English, I’ve been struggling with internal and external conflicts about teaching that often drive me to unhealthy introspection and self-doubt. Psychologist and researcher Ethan Kross calls this inner noise “chatter.” It’s a hot mess of negative self-talk that can sabotage our mental and physical well-being. KrossContinue reading “A Simple Intervention for Internal Chatter: Good Morning, [Your Name Here]…. Get to It.”

These Six Paradoxes for Teaching, Relating, and Long-term Flourishing

Teaching is paradoxical in many ways, and I tend to do best when I work with Parker Palmer’s six teaching paradoxes in mind. (Actually, these six paradoxes can help with all sorts of relationships.) Palmer believes that the spaces in which he teaches need to have room for these six areas of paradox: 1. boundedContinue reading “These Six Paradoxes for Teaching, Relating, and Long-term Flourishing”

Marveling at Shakespeare’s Work: What If the Texts Were the Standards?

As a high school English teacher who has endured at least three rounds of educational standards reform in almost thirty years, I can’t help but think we should actually look to the great texts of the past as our educational standards. This summer, I’ve been purging, recycling, donating, and reorganizing my materials and books–at home and at school. The vast majority of disposables involve state standards and instructional strategies while the collectibles and keepsakes tend to include content-rich material as well as the rich content of thoughtful authors from times past. No doubt there are other authors and works beyond Shakespeare to include as part of those enduring standards, but three very good recent books about Shakespeare have me thinking about the Bard’s role in developing better education.

The Courage to Teach When You’re Losing Heart about Relationships

“Many of us became teachers for reasons of the heart, animated by a passion for some subject and for helping people learn. But many of us lose heart as the years of teaching go by. How can we take heart in teaching once more so that we can, as good teachers always do, give heartContinue reading “The Courage to Teach When You’re Losing Heart about Relationships”

The Courage to Teach Again

“After three decades of trying to learn my craft, every class comes down to this: my students and I, face to face, engaged in an ancient and exacting exchange called education. The techniques I have mastered do not disappear, but neither do they suffice. Face to face with my students, only one resource is atContinue reading “The Courage to Teach Again”

Being Amateur-Professional Liberal Arts Educators

There’s a lot packed into that title, and it invites consideration of the balancing work topic in my last posting. Other more competent writers and educators can cover the importance of professionalism and the liberal arts, but I wanted to take a little time to reflect on the importance of being an amateur educator. Here are are a few relevant and important points about being an amateur educator.