Posts by gtucker

  1. Day 79: Pam Findlay, Upper School science teacher

    [ By on January 25, 2013 ]

    I teach science to bright, motivated high school students. I feel  very, very fortunate to have such a wonderful job. I teach Marine Biology in particular, and I feel really lucky to be able to teach what I love. Today I learned that marine biology is so, so much more than learning about animals and habitats and water. I learned from my students that marine biology is about art, and swimming, and great American literature, and entrepreneurship. I learned that the sea is part of everything, and that if you taught a course with the sea as its center, you could teach a course that involved math, history, literature, art and music. The sea is truly all around us, as ...

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  2. Day 70: Claire, Middle School English teacher

    [ By on January 11, 2013 ]

    At the risk of pushing back against our RCS character strengths, I am beginning to wonder if my sixth and seventh grade English students possess too much grit. As readers, that is. Grit is essential to many academic and personal endeavors, but when it comes to developing their reading lives, I would like my students to feel more comfortable quitting. Upon our return from the winter vacation, my students presented 60-second book commercials, advertising a book they had read over the break. Each student had the choice to promote a book or discourage classmates from reading it. Most students created commercials in favor of the books they had read, but I was surprised by the number of students who had not ...

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  3. Day 62: Sarah, Spanish and Latin teacher, Middle and Upper School

    [ By on December 14, 2012 ]

    Tucked away in our classroom on the second floor of the Hackett building on this sunny day in December, thirteen 6th graders were using regular –AR verbs in complete sentences for the very first time. “¿Hablas español?” I asked. (Do you speak Spanish?) A confused look spread across the classroom as the meaning of the sentence sunk in. One student immediately voiced her concern about the predicament. “I don’t really speak Spanish completely yet, but how can I answer with no if I am answering in Spanish?” “So don’t you think you should answer with sí?” I asked in Spanish with a smile. The next few questions included other languages and other –AR verbs. “¿Hablas francés?” (Do you speak French?) ...

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  4. Day 57: Jeff, Math teacher, Upper School

    [ By on December 08, 2012 ]

    As a math teacher, I don't often get the opportunity to have the same kinds of open-ended arguments with my students that my colleagues in the English and History departments do. The nature of mathematical instruction at the high school level is such that, at the end of the day, there are right answers and wrong answers. We will often have lively debates in class -- Is a line longer than a ray? Can a polygon have equal sides without having equal angle measures? -- but students are not really asked to deal with ambiguity, as these questions ultimately have a correct answer. I suppose this is one of the appeals of mathematics and the hard sciences; solutions can always ...

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  5. Day 52: Melissa, English teacher, Middle and Upper School

    [ By on November 30, 2012 ]

    “It’s the kids, right?” folks chime in smiling as I flounder while trying to explain what I love about teaching. And, yes, of course, the kids are a significant part of it, but just saying “it’s the kids” doesn’t capture the reason. Today, while we, my ninth graders and I, prepared to start sinking our teeth into Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, I was able to put my finger on what had previously evaded me. Before leaping into O’Brien’s masterful work on war and storytelling, I wanted my students to reflect on why we tell stories in the first place. I asked them to ruminate during a few minutes of quiet writing at the beginning of class on the ...

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  6. Day 40: Scott, Latin Teacher in the Middle and Upper School

    [ By on November 09, 2012 ]

    Today I learned, or perhaps I should say I was forcefully reminded, that if I ask students to reflect on their own learning, even with minimal modeling but just with some questions to respond to—this was with high-school students—they can do a remarkable job. Here we are, at the end of the first quarter; I gave each student a sheet with questions (mainly passed to me by a colleague) such as, “What are some things that you think you have done well (skills, assignments, classroom behaviors or work, specific or general) so far this school year? Please consider character and behavior, involvement, contributions, etc., not just your work on assessments.” Also, “What are some things that you think you have ...

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  7. Day 35: Mike, Science Teacher in the Upper School

    [ By on October 26, 2012 ]

    Last night I had to cancel the evening observing I had scheduled for my astronomy class. This is a common occurrence when teaching astronomy during the rainy season. This time it made me think about how hard it is to see the stars, particularly in New York City. I talk about the stars every day and I have been trained as an astronomer, so I think I have a reasonably intimate relationship with the universe, but I find that I miss seeing the stars. I have lived in New Mexico and the mountains of California and became accustomed to being able to walk outside on a clear night and look around our neighborhood of the universe. When I taught in ...

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  8. Day 30: Cat, Mathematics Teacher, Middle and Upper School

    [ By on October 19, 2012 ]

    Today I learned that even though I might be good at something, I can also drop the ball once in a while. I usually bake really good banana bread. Tonight it was undercooked when the timer went off, so I popped it back in the oven and ended up burning the top. Normally, I wouldn’t mind so much but I am not sure that my 10th grade advisees will be so happy when they are hankering for some food during our gathering on Thursday. I shouldn’t worry so much, as I’m sure they will be grateful for my effort. Early on in my teaching career I was so intent on being a “good” teacher that I didn’t spend enough time focusing ...

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  9. Day 25: Derek, Education/Technology Coordinator, Upper School

    [ By on October 12, 2012 ]

    It is not just what you learn that’s important it is how you learn it. If you can defend the workings of your mind against any onslaught of ignorance and idiocy then you will have won. Better yet inculcate in some other mind the habits and pleasures of learning. To teach is to learn all over again. Derek is half-way to completing an MFA in Creative Writing at Manhattanville College. Although he loves writing in many different forms, he is most enamored of the poetic arts. As an education/technology coordinator, Derek works with the Student Support & Studies Offices, and provides technology support in the Upper School Library.

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  10. Day 21: Betsy, Middle and Upper School Art Teacher

    [ By on October 05, 2012 ]

     Today, I was struck by the growing cohesiveness in each of my classes. On the first day of school, there were individual students in the art room. A month later, each class has begun to exhibit an energy of its own. Students have met new people, formed new friendships, connected with old friends, and have begun to get to know me, and I them. In particular, one section of my eighth grade studio art class is coming together as a group. Today, during our closure (or critique) of their still life drawings, I noticed a comfort level, or an ease, that has developed. Students were willing to share some of the challenges in their work in a more serious and meaningful ...

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