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Teachers & opinions on language [Feb. 15th, 2008|11:11 am]

I am a phD student currently finishing my dissertation on what teachers think about different ways of speaking. If you are a US teacher, you could support my research by filling out a short questionnaire, available at http://questionnaire.source-lounge.de/questionnaire.php.

Last month, I already invited your participation in a questionnaire that helped me scale the questions used in my study. I would like to thank again all those who already volunteered their time!

The questionnaire that has been created now is pretty short, and it should be possible to answer it in no more than five minutes. The data collected will, of course, only be used for research purposes.

If you chose to enter your e-mail adresse, you will be kept posted on the progress of this research project. I’ll also post occasional updates on my livejournal.

Should you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact me at judith.buendgens-kosten@gmx.net, or to contact me through PM. Your input will be very much appreciated.

Thank you very much!


Judith Buendgens-Kosten

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Poor school choice, or poor career choice? [Jan. 14th, 2008|07:47 pm]

[Current Location |Hell]
[mood |scaredscared]

Hey all. I teach math at a high school in South Central LA, but maybe not for long. I'm not looking for a pep talk (or a guilt trip) but I'm honestly exploring my options and looking for some opinions.

My school is a mess. Its accreditation is constantly at risk and we're probably either going to be taken over soon, one way or another [politics deleted]. There is constant violence here, between students (fights every day, several times a day, in hallways, yards, and in classrooms) and also assaults on staff that result in big punishments like 2-day suspensions. The majority of our students don't live with either biological parent. The transiency rate is high and attendance is low: in some periods, I have less than half a dozen of the kids I had in September and it's not unusual to have fewer than 10 kids in class period during period 6. The administration can't enforce its own policies and the counselors' poor excuse for scheduling AND counseling helps nothing. My supposed mentor teacher is also burnt out and couldn't care less, and my department chair's best advice so far is that I need to have more sex.

Everyone tells me this school isn't so different from any other inner-city school but I know that's not true. I worked in another extremely low-performing (statewide API 1, many English learners, Title 1, super-high gang population) school for 3 years. Granted, I was a paraprofessional and not a teacher but I felt safe in that school and found the student issues to be much more about low skills and low motivation than aggression and off-the-chain behavior. I liked the students and only the most lax, apathetic teachers had serious classroom management problems. Fights in the street were common, but fights on campus were rare.

In the Los Angeles Unified School district, it's not uncommon (or not as uncommon as it should be) to transfer midyear. At least 5 teachers have left my school this year already, and they didn't wait until the end of a semester like I have. So I am putting in for a transfer because I feel that the situation at this school is hopeless for an inexperienced teacher. Plus, the students don't respect me and the school is small enough (less than 2000) that word is out. Also, it's no secret that the staff has formed its own reputation for me ("has issues," "dresses like a man," etc.) I feel like I have learned a lot about classroom management and school politics this semester and may do fine with a fresh start. Please don't make me feel guilty about leaving the kids because as I said most of the kids will be gone in a few months anyway if this year keeps up the way it's been going.

On the other hand, I worry that taking over another classroom midyear may be equally challenging. I'm also wondering if teaching isn't for me. I like instruction, but not discipline. I can do it, but I hate it and the best I will ever be at it is "effective," not awesome. None of the classroom management training I've received or reading I've done bears any resemblance to my situation, which probably doesn't help.

So, did I pick the wrong school, the wrong district (the LAUSD is notoriously broken) or the wrong career? I am crying several times a day and I don't even cry at funerals. I have never been so miserable and I find it hard to believe teaching will ever be more than tolerable. But I can't survive working two jobs making $11/hour as a paraprofessional anymore even though I loved that and hated this.

Can you ever recover from burnout like this? For the record, I'm 33 and this is my second career. I've had a lot of life experience including, as I said, 3 years working with kids in another "tough" school but I've never before felt this sh*tty about myself or the world.
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Question about Materials [Jan. 11th, 2008|10:53 am]
[mood |confusedconfused]

I've just heard from my principal for my student teaching placement. He wrote this, "Ms G. has 10 computers in her class and her kids are reading Zack and Whirligig." It's a middle school. I meet the principal and Ms. G. on Monday. What are Zack and Whirligig? (It's an Edison school). I'm going to Google, but I was hoping that you all had some insights. Thanks!
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Edison School? [Jan. 7th, 2008|04:43 pm]
I will begin student teaching on January 24th at an Edison school under the city school system. It's an urban middle school, and I'll be working with 7-8 graders. Does anyone have any experience to offer? How is it different?
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Help with a research project and support charities at the same time! [Jan. 3rd, 2008|10:36 am]
As part of my phD research project in English linguistics, I have developed a questionnaire.
I need quite a number of U.S. American teachers to answer it.

Now, this questionnaire does not actually ask for your personal opinions, it merely gives opinion statements and asks you which one sounds more positive. E.g. „I enjoy ice cream from time to time.“ vs. „Ice cream is the very best thing in the world.“ (The actual questionnaire, of course, has nothing to do with ice cream – that‘s just an example of the type of questions asked.)
I have decided to give an extra incentive for all volunteers. I cannot ‘pay’ you, but I offer to make a donation of 2$ for every completed questionnaire. And, the best thing: Every volunteer can decide to which organization his/her money will go! You can choose between
The American Red Cross,
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,
Teaching inc.
Additionally, if I get at least 20 completed questionnaires, I will add further 10 dollars to the donation sum of one of these institutions, and if I get 40, again, 10 more dollars. That’s, of course, only a small symbolic ‘thank you’ gesture to express my sincere gratitude for your time and effort!

Answering the complete questionnaire will take – based on how quick a reader you are – 5 to 10 minutes.

If you would like to participate, just send me a PM or E-mail (judith dot buendgens hyphen kosten at gmx dot net), and you will receive your username, a password and a URL. At the end of the questionnaire you have the option to enter your e-mail address. If you do so, you will receive updates on how the project progresses and how much money will be donated.

Thank you very much!

Judith Buendgens-Kosten
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Hi! [Dec. 26th, 2007|12:14 am]

Hello! I teach 6th grade ELA in Harlem, NYC.  I ... don't know if I'm doing very well (first year). I have an idea, though. Our next unit is Persuasive, and I am thinking of using the overarching theme of "What is Art?" - having students debate about controversies in the art world, such as "Is graffiti art?" I'm thinking of talking about modern art, propaganda art, offensive art (opening up the censorship question). Very welcome are suggestions as to related reading material. I have some nonfiction on movements and artists. I think bringing in some short fiction and poetry wouldliven things up. We use the workshop model and the ELA is coming. Gah.       
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Introduction [Dec. 22nd, 2007|10:37 pm]


I am a seventh year NYC teacher in Rockaway Beach.  I currently teach high school English and Public Speaking.  I finally stumbled upon a website that deals with urban issues and schools.  Thanks to those who started it.  

Not much to say now, but just hi and looking forward to talking with all of you.  
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cross-posted to several teaching communities [Dec. 20th, 2007|10:38 am]

The company I write for, Ignite Learning, makes some of our educational media available for free on youtube from time to time, and you may have seen my posts here, pointing you to this or that video. More recently, I've ranted about my disagreement with some bad press the company has gotten.

I've written another post on that subject and rather than spam this community with the post itself, I'll just invite you to visit my journal if you care to read it.
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teaching resume for 4th grade position [Nov. 7th, 2007|11:43 am]

[mood |excitedexcited]

What goes on a resume for a teaching position when you're not yet certified, still in school, and don't have a lot of experience in education?

I moved to New Orleans to become an elementary school teacher and I have since discovered that practically anyone can get a teaching position if they're up to the challenge, certified or not.  The situation is desperate because schools are reopening all the time and teachers burn out quickly, and many fellow students in my education classes have no more teaching experience than I do, which is to say no formal experience.  They're just willing and idealistic and want to rebuild New Orleans through education.  I heard about an open position in 4th grade at a nearby elementary school, and when I called to ask about it they asked me to bring in a resume tomorrow.  That means I need to write a resume today.  I am as qualified as any of the other students in my classes but I need to convince the school that I can do the job.

I do have a bachelor's degree in history (2005), a year of AmeriCorps service working with children, and a year of experience substitute teaching in elementary school.

Where do I start?
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Kids & Advertisers on LIVEbrary Week 4 [Nov. 6th, 2007|12:36 pm]
The LIVEbrary, an online educational program from children's book publisher Annick Press, welcomes guest author Shari Graydon for the fourth week of Media Awareness. The two-year program for middle school and junior high schools students, teachers, librarians and homeschoolers is funded by a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Graydon will be chatting about her book "Made You Look," which challenges kids to become aware of how advertisers try to manipulate them. Graydon was also the guest author during Week 2, in which she discussed her book dealing with society's conceptions about beauty, "In Your Face." You can view a transcript from that live chat at the LIVEbrary blog:


Live chats are every Thursday afternoon from 2-3 p.m. ET. The chats are put on with assistance from Skype Technologies <http://www.skype.com>.

The LIVEbrary blog also features lesson plans, instructions for using the chats in the classroom, and registration information. Teachers, librarians, parents and homeschoolers must register in advance to participate in the LIVEbrary.

For more information, please contact LIVEbrary@annickpress.com
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