I came to Philadelphia by way of Teach For America and am originally from St. Louis, MO. I am in my fourth year of teaching in Philadelphia and I would not want to live anywhere else or do anything else.
My beliefs about teaching and learning have been largely informed by past teachers of my own as well as the teachers and lessons I have met by being a part of the Philadelphia Writing Project.
I am particularly interested in discussing issues such as teacher sustenance and the high school dropout rate. I am passionate about urban education and love talking about the issues that matter to me most, so I’m looking forward to having an open dialogue on my blog.
This is a nagging concern for me actually. It is a pedagogical dilemma particularly persistent for English teachers, I think, to consider what counts in a curriculum.
Should I be focusing on the endless grammar issues my students struggle with? Should I be sure to teach Shakespeare, Hemingway, and “classic” canonical literature? Does assigning vocabulary lists make me a real English teacher?
Recently, I was contacted by a producer at NBC who wanted to set up an interview with me and Jenna Bush as part of the Education Nation coverage. The interview fell through, but I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would say if given the chance to discuss teaching live on national television. Here, I compose my would-be interview:
Simulated Jenna Bush: So, Molly, what keeps teachers going these days?
I have been thinking a lot about Race to the Top lately, as I’m sure many of us have. I’ve been thinking so much about the complexities and implications of the program that I almost don’t know where to start.
I could start by discussing Arne Duncan’s recent interview on NPR, in which he praised the “amazing results” of the program; or by reviewing the formal criticism recently put forth by leading civil rights organizations, including the NAACP; or compare my own ideas to those of Diane Ravitch, posited in a recent article. For me, though, perhaps the most troubling aspect of the entire policy is a very fundamental one: language.
As I completed my fifth year of teaching this June, it occurred to me that I had survived the curse and beaten the statistic of half of all new teachers quitting within their first five years.
Although I find it much more honorable to recognize teachers who have made education their life’s work and have put in 25, 30, 35 years in public schools, I sighed a breath of relief at five years under my belt and took time to reflect on what I have learned in the past five years that will sustain me in the next 25.
Teaching For Joy and Justice: Re-imagining the Language Arts Classroom - the title makes it sound so easy to do! In her most recent book Linda Christensen offers a combination of practical solutions, theoretical frameworks, and inspirational anecdotes for teachers who attempt each and every day to make their classrooms sites of just and joyful learning.