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Silent Sustained Reading (SSR) is a staple of many classrooms. At my school it lives in Advisory, a 50-minute mixed-grade class that balances literacy development with study hall and school-culture building. The goal of SSR is simple: For 30 minutes twice a week the entire school population is reading silently—and enjoying it.
“Will we be learning history from a biblical or counter-biblical perspective?” James asked.
I could see an intense honesty in his eyes, one that I’m pretty sure only teachers know. It was another one of those moments when my mind searched at hyper-speed for the right words. I wanted to make sure that this student felt I had given a genuine answer. I wanted him to remain connected to me and to the course.
Last December, South Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia was out of control. An outburst of racial violence prompted Asian students to boycott the school for a week. They wanted to pressure the school administration to do something about ongoing hostilities with black students.
A new study proves what many already suspected: Your chances of getting suspended in middle school rise dramatically if you are black.
The study, “Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis,” was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the home of Teaching Tolerance.
We made a circle for our guided reading time. I sat down in my trusty old Hinkle rocking chair, and my students sat down crisscross applesauce on their red carpet squares. My second-graders’ stomachs were full and their energy level was low. They were ready to hear a story.
As my 10th-grade students came back from lunch, it was clear that a few of my more squirrely young men needed time to readjust to the ways of a classroom after being away all summer.
“It’s just a joke between us, Mr. Greenslate,” said Aaron. “We all know Jason from outside of school, and so that’s just how we mess around. Once you know us better you’ll understand.”
They blaze into Room 309 at 8:16, sporting new t-shirts and vintage ones, silver watches and Silly Bandz, first-day-of-school garb.
I hand them a yellow index card. "Write for me," I say, "Begin with, 'I am...' or 'I am not..."'
Off they go, scribbling first words with their newly sharpened pencils.
They despise school. They adore school. They'd like school, if only, if only, if only...
Their summer? They've gone swimming with sea turtles in Hawaii. Their parents have divorced. They've been diagnosed. Or, trapped in summer school. Their beloved grandmother has died.
They are 13 years old.
Last week, Teaching Tolerance ran a post from an assistant principal in Illinois. Lamenting the recent spate of anti-Islamic incidents and the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric, she wrote:
I immediately wondered how to tackle this head-on as an educator. What would I say to my teachers about how to approach the subject in our history classes? How could I be a participant in a difficult conversation in which some of our Muslim students are directly affected?