Jill E. Thomas

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Jill E. Thomas is an English teacher at Life Academy of Health and Bioscience, a small public high school in Oakland, Calif. She was a Fund for Teachers Fellow in 2008 and traveled to Barrow, Alaska, to learn more about how the modern diet affects native culture. She holds a bachelor of arts in English and anthropology from Santa Clara University and a master of art in education from the University of California at Berkeley.


Pages authored by Jill E. Thomas

Blog post
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What Esteban Taught Me For the first time in my 10-year career, I am teaching the child of a friend. I greeted this new experience both with excitement and concern. After...
The Double Standard of Coming Out Just two days before the 2013 National Day of Silence, college basketball star Brittney Griner casually and publicly came out as lesbian. At 6 feet,...
Praise Helps Redefine Student Roles A colleague of mine recommended a book called How to Talk So Kids Can Learn by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Even though the book was published the...
Clarity Comes After Viewing of 'Bully' Like many school districts in the country, Oakland (Calif.) Unified School District joined an initiative called “The Bully Project,” sponsored by the...
Bathroom Rules to Keep Students Safe Last October, the board of the East Aurora (Ill.) School District took an important step toward protecting the rights of transgendered students by...
Gender Spectrum Illuminated by Schoolyard Game At the high school where I teach, we have a game called Trash Ball. Born out of necessity when we occupied a school site with no field, no track and...
Where Boys Become Men Early in the school year, members of a youth gang came to our Oakland, Calif. campus. Their target was a young woman from the ninth-grade class. As...
Students Rally for Change, Peace All over the nation people strive to answer Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous invocation: “What are you doing for others?” Many engage in projects to...
When a Student Dies How does a school community deal with the violent loss of a student? Unfortunately, this is a question my school has had to answer too often. Still,...
Student Advocates Help Realize a DREAM Oct. 8, was a day of victory for a group of 22 Life Academy students in Oakland, Calif. They are part of a 2-year-old advocacy club called “The...
Not Only Can Big Boys Cry, They Do I decided to show a short You Tube video clip in class the other day. It’s a montage of scenes of men crying from various movies complete with cheesy...
Online Hate: Unfriend or Speak Up? The morning of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I logged in to Facebook as I do most weekend mornings to see the status updates of 200 or so...
Hard to Muster Laughs at ‘Bad Teacher’ Just when we thought that public opinion of teachers couldn’t get any worse, a new film, Bad Teacher by the writers of the television mockumentary,...
Exploring Gender Stereotypes Through Dance When I took the opportunity to co-teach a mixed-grade level coed dance class, I expected some of the boys to be reluctant to participate in the...
Change at a ‘Rapid Fire’ Pace A group of talented young poets has emerged at my school, Life Academy, over the last three years. They call themselves “Rapid Fire.” When they speak...
Often a Teacher, Always a Student As a student teacher, my mentor Paula told me that the best teachers were lifelong learners. Following her own wisdom, she took fiddle lessons every...
Go Outside, Meet Your Students “All these kids … you must be brave,” said the man in hiking gear. After a sunny but cold day on the beach punctuated by a trudge through sandpaper...
Making Disability Explicit In order to teach tolerance, a teacher must proactively bring in those who are typically left out of the mainstream. With the 2010 release of the...
Pedro Noguera’s Tips for Effective Schools Oakland Unified School District is trying to change its image. And well it should since it has a reputation for mismanaging funds. In 2002...
Teens Find Fun, Focus in Summer Programs Summer is the most violent time of year in urban areas. Some cite hotter temperatures, while others point the finger at out-of-school teenagers. No...
Creating Authentic Audiences for Writing Students One of the surest ways to motivate students to not only write, but to write with passion, purpose and power, is to make sure they have an authentic...
Linking Advocacy to English Class At the recent California Association of Teachers of English (CATE) conference in Sacramento, I found myself surrounded by passionate English teachers...
100 Days of School, 100 Days of Bullying When you say the word “bully” most people tend to think of the caricature of a bully. One of my students described the thinking of this stereotype...
Disparities in School Lunch If you’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird, you might remember the scene in which Scout beats up Walter Cunningham in the schoolyard. It’s the first day of...
Jim Crow Today It can be daunting but also amusing to set the context for Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird. If my students thought the...
'Teach: Tony Danza' Captures Classroom Reality In my household, where my husband and I are both high school English teachers, we generally do not watch movies or TV shows about our profession...
In Jail, Pencils Are Weapons Today, I opened my classroom door to a surprise. Diego was back! He put his arm around my shoulder and said, “It’s good to see you again.” One of...
A Call for Effective, Non-Violent Voices Editor’s Note: This post is a follow-up on Jill E. Thomas's Nov. 11 blog post "The L.A. Riots Echo Loudly in My Classroom." In that post, she...
The L.A. Riots Echo Loudly In My Classroom My students are too young to remember the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Just four years before their birth, they refer to them as something from “back in...
Rosa’s Law Changed Words—Now Let’s Change the Prejudice On the rare occasion that I spend time with people who are not educators, it’s inevitable that someone will drop the word “retarded.” The “R-...
Getting a Read on Teens Through Anti-Bullying Books “The Trouble with Tuck by Theodore Taylor,” I began to tell my class, “is an important book to me because it was one of the first that I read again...
Building Life-Long Readers One Book at a Time 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...
Summer School: Punishment or Second Chance? This spring, my principal asked who would be interested in teaching a two-week summer session for our own students. I found myself saying, “I’ll do...
Magazine Feature Story
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Two Decades of Teaching Tolerance In 1991, when Morris Dees, a co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, decided to start the Teaching Tolerance program, he hoped to make young...