Cathedral Building

Another Teaching Blog

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A student told me my class was boring and that we don’t do anything new.

Meanwhile, we do assorted activities at least 2-3 days a week. Twitters, diagrams, charts, writing.

I try to hold discussions but none of the students communicate in this class. My ninth grade standard kids can debate about character choices in Midsummer Night’s Dream, but this college prep course won’t even answer a question.

She said she wished she had the other 10th grade teacher.

How do I deal with this?

I’ve been working through something similar lately, and I’m not sure there’s an easy answer. It’s too simplistic to caution not to take offense — the craft of teaching is inherently personal, because everything that happens in our rooms from bell to bell is ours, of our time and mind and creation. I will not caution you not to take it personally; it is personal.

If you can find it within yourself to explore further, to expose further vulnerabilities, you might find the answers you need. Ask her questions. Something like, “I hear what you’re saying. It sounds to me like you don’t feel challenged. Is that what you meant? I feel that I am providing you opportunities, but I don’t want you to feel this way about my class. Do you have any ideas about how I can make it better?”

Let her think. If she doesn’t have any immediate answers, ask her to consider it over night and check back in the next day. Definitely check back in.

Because honestly? It sounds like she’s disengaged with her own learning and while the comments were personal, it might not be about you. This exploration of her intentions on your part wouldn’t just be to find the answer; it’s about relationship building. It’s about finding a way to connect to the student and allowing the student to find a way to connect to you and, through you, the content and the class itself. Maybe she just wants to know she’s heard, that someone is listening.

And also? Thank you. In responding to this question of yours, I’ve answered my own. I’ve struggled the last weeks, with finding a way to connect to my own student again, and I’ve just stumbled across it via the last paragraph I typed above.

[I just gave myself goosebumps.]

Ooooh that last paragraph.

I had a boy yesterday tell me that he hates art, my class sucks, and it doesn’t matter if he fails art because all he needs is ELA and math. 

You totally got me with the last paragraph. 
This. boy. is. angry. 

He needs somebody to let that anger out on. He’s most likely (based on his assessment scores in ELA and Math) going to fail the year. 

It really isn’t about me, but dayummm it still stings. Today, I stopped him on his usual laps around my room and told him explicitly that I didn’t take it personal, but he does have to be in art. He doesn’t need to enjoy the subject (that’s his choice), but he still has to do the work. 

If it makes you all feel any better (or add to the sense of camaraderie), I’ve had kids tell me that I’m useless, that I’m bad at what I do, that they hate me, that they don’t need or want me there, that I’m stupid, and that I should go [expletive] off/myself/other people.

Last week I also had a little friend tell me I should kill myself.

Granted I work with children with mental health and behavior disturbances and on some level expect at least some of this on a more regular basis, but more often than not I find that on some level it’s about everything else going on with the kids coming out sideways.

18,128 notes


According to People magazineOklahoma teens Katie Hill and Arin Andrews, who are transgender and were in a relationship with each other during their transitions, will share their stories in two memoirs to be published Sept. 30, 2014, by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. The book covers, revealed today, are above.

Katie Hill told People"I don’t want this book to just appeal to transgender people or their allies. I want people to understand that there really is no such thing as normal."

(via christina-in-alaska)

Filed under ya lit mental health lgbtq education gender trans*

52 notes


Check out our beautiful Latino Culture Collection - and check out the blog for a promotional code from Disney that makes each book available for even less!
(Please feel free to share this with any educators you know!)

I’m not sure whether it’s on here or not, but I fell madly in love with A Box Full of Kittens, by Sonia Manzano (Sesame Street’s Maria), which is also one of my favorite stories ever about a kid getting distracted.  And the illustrations are some of my favorite in any picture book I’ve ever read.


Check out our beautiful Latino Culture Collection - and check out the blog for a promotional code from Disney that makes each book available for even less!

(Please feel free to share this with any educators you know!)

I’m not sure whether it’s on here or not, but I fell madly in love with A Box Full of Kittens, by Sonia Manzano (Sesame Street’s Maria), which is also one of my favorite stories ever about a kid getting distracted. And the illustrations are some of my favorite in any picture book I’ve ever read.

1 note

Humpday Schedule:

Finish paperwork early for drop-off. Faxes, copies. Phone calls in car.

Mid-morning (9 is mid, right? It’s not early. I don’t think it’s late.) session half hour away.

Small chunk of time to get redressed from dryer in less kid-interaction, more professional clothing and maybe grab a snack or something car-edible.  Probably not enough time for a drive-through run.

Two hour drive for special meeting.

Meeting will likely be about an hour.  Or needs to be, because after the:

Two hour drive back.


Straight from there half hour to a late afternoon session.

Potentially from there half hour to an evening session.

Filed under Putting off sleeping but really need to be going to sleep two hours ago

94 notes



Heads up, #education





There a few teacher Facebook groups that follow the #education tag, apparently. We saw one about a year ago where all the promoted posts were re-posted onto that group. This week I came across another after seeing a post shared a few times where it eventually made its…

FYI y’all

Don’t forget that you still have the right to demand work be removed! 

Facebook’s legal terms clearly state in Section 5 parts 1 & 2 that they have the right to remove any content that infringes on someone else’s rights- Posting screenshots of someone else’s work may seem like a gray area… but Facebook tends to lean on the side of caution in that regard.

Any original writing is protected by copyright law. Period. 

WeAreTeachers needs to learn some boundaries. 

Preach, msleah.  File under: things that are not cool.


I sent a fanmail to the account asking that they ask permission before screenshooting, with the explanation that some tumblr writers don’t have already nor do they want that size of readership.  Extending that courtesy would be easier than reporting the posts for copyright infringement. 

Jbizz, I don’t know if you gave the okay for your post to be on there but they’ve got a screenshot and linkback on March 7.

Itsssnix, March 5.

I don’t know wjrabosky, but there’s a repost that includes photos of their students in it, January 21, which I feel needs a shout out just in case they don’t want them on facebook even if faces aren’t showing.

Filed under jbizzle itsssnix wjrabosky education weareteachers inappropriate means of sharing information

80 notes





Do you regret that they have found you?
Naaaahhhhh. After 62K+ people it was bound to happen.
I actually had one student tell me my blog wasn’t that…

If you’d regret your students finding your tumblr, YOU SHOULDN’T BE POSTING THINGS ON THE INTERNET.

I’m looking at you, young teachers or teachers in training who post pictures of themselves drinking and/or drunk posting. It’s a really quick way of losing your job/never getting one.

::goes back through posts and privates all pictures and personal posts::

But then gets pissed about the double standard we have about teachers. Teacher aren’t human. Teachers do it for the kids so we bank on the kindness of their heart rather than supporting them. We expect the school marm from 100 years ago and reject the colorful lives that teachers can have. That’s not fair.

Yes, I’ll go back and private, but I’m doing nothing illegal. My job shouldn’t depend on my personal blog. WHICH, AT TIMES HIGHLIGHTS EDUCATION.

Is it terrible that I’m just not afraid?
If anybody wants my job that badly… go ahead, have it.

Let the older generation judge me.

Disagree, disagree, and disagree with the bolded above.  There are many reasons why students, parents, administration could react badly to something posted, and those things that are posted that could be reacted to are not confined to drunk-posting.  I believe that things are far more complicated than that.

Teachers and other youth-involved workers, but especially teachers, can be skewered and admonished for having opinions, for enjoying movies or tv shows that have content someone objects to, for being friends with someone who engages in activities that someone may view as unteacherly, for having or getting tattoos or piercings, for being in the same photo over a quiet dinner as an alcoholic beverage, for being remotely political, for being gender-variant or having a same-sex partner, for any number of things.  Just because a student or parent or administrator would react badly to something doesn’t mean that person has no business posting it on the internet.

I propose a modified warning: if you’d regret your students finding your tumblr, make sure it is absolutely untraceable back to you.

To tell a person that they aren’t allowed to have a personal life in public because they are in a certain is, I think, unfair to that person and demeaning of them as an individual with tastes and thoughts and opinions and beliefs.

Filed under education

5 notes

The Parent is Part of the…Equation.

Strengths-based.  Positive.  We try not to say “problem.”

But right no w part of the issue is a parent who is so passive they are actually veering more toward apathetic. It’s beyond not putting their foot down in terms of discipline — they don’t follow through with processes to get the household basic needs and assistance even when they have help for all but the last piece of the process, they have no desire to be involved with the school but at the same time will not say no to suggestions of going to parent-geared activities or connecting with seeing grades on the computer.  They just won’t say yes either.

Their entire demeanor could be reduced to a shrug, but they voice wanting to keep everyone together with strong feelings…sometimes. They say they feel they have no support system when other providers described to us how they have offered and given numerous supports in numerous circumstances.

Maybe part of this is learned helplessness.  Maybe part is depression, though we aren’t privy to the parent’s diagnoses — and maybe I should mention the possibility of need my team mate.  But what can we do to help this parent develop assertiveness when the parent is barely present while they’re there?

(If more information is needed, I can talk privately to give some more detail while still maintaining privacy of information.)

Anyone familiar with this challenge either in the school or therapy setting and have any suggestions?

Filed under social work therapy family therapy education assistance please advice needed assertiveness mental health family functioning family systems

4 notes

Another note on friends v strangers:

I’m going to compare this to different kinds of trauma work we do with in the community.

Some individuals and teams do crisis-specific work — they have someone in an intake appointment, evaluate the situation and whether the person can be safe, and go from there.  Chances are they will see that person minimally afterward. 

Their relationship with those people does not come with strings attached, with the “baggage” of knowing someone.  And I don’t mean baggage in a strictly negative sense — baggage is essential. Baggage is how we have the bare necessities for getting along in a place that isn’t home.  Sometimes it can be heavy, but it’s still something that we need in order to interact with the world.

So the individuals and teams who do work with clients on a long-term basis — whether that’s outpatient or in-home or in a residential program, as a therapist or caseworker or teacher or partner — they’ve spent time with these people.  They see them on a regular basis, and they’ve had the chance to pack their bags.  Obviously you can’t, or shouldn’t, treat your clients badly.  But sometimes alongside the favorite things and techniques that help them most are things like ‘this person’s personality makes me want to hit my head against a wall’ and ‘you’re going to get nowhere with this or that intervention because it’s never worked before’ or ‘don’t even try to reason with that relative’ or even ‘just being in the same room as this person stresses me the hell out.’

It isn’t all a negative relationship.  But because you have experiences you’ve built on, you might have a combination of perceptions that could lead to negative reactions or consequences that, say, someone who sees them once in a blue moon may not.

And it’s the same for friends, families, spouses.

Filed under relationships therapy mental health