Inspirational or just crazy?

The movie Whiplash obliterates “every sentimental cliché of the inspirational-teacher genre,” writes A.A. Dowd on A.V. Club. At a top conservatory, a perfectionist instructor mentors — and brutalizes — a 19-year-old jazz drummer who aspires to greatness.

Teacher/author suspended for fictional violence

A Maryland middle school teacher was placed on leave — and taken by police for an “emergency”  psychiatric evaluation — because he wrote two novels set 900 years in the future about school massacres.

A police search for guns and bombs found nothing. (Not even a slice of pizza chewed into the shape of a gun?!) But police will guard the middle school until the nonexistent danger is past.

Patrick McLaw self-published The Insurrectionist and its sequel, Lillith’s Heir, under a pen name.

The 23-year-old eighth-grade English teacher was nominated for teacher of the year honors after his first year at Mace’s Lane Middle School. He made national news for helping a 14-year-old student self-publish his own e-book.

Assuming McLaw wrote his own Amazon copy, his novels sound dreadful:

 “On 18 March 2902, a massacre transpired on the campus of Ocean Park High School, claiming the lives of nine hundred forty-seven individuals–the largest school massacre in the nation’s history. And the entire country now begins to ask two daunting questions: How? and Why? After the federal government becomes involved, and after examining the bouquet of black roses that lies in front of the school’s sign, it becomes evident that the hysteria is far from over.”

Neither is the hysteria transpiring in 2014.

Remembering James Foley

Teach for America is remembering corps member James Foley, Phoenix ’96. The freelance journalist, captured in Syria nearly two years ago, was murdered yesterday by Islamic State barbarians.

Elisa Villanueva Beard,co-CEO, recalls “his tenacity, his spirit, and his fierce dedication to give voice to the voiceless.”

Jim was an incredible teacher who was a model of love and excellence, and went on to be a journalist with the same passion, care, and integrity that he’d shown in the classroom.

“Here’s how I remember James Foley: hilarious, creative, laughing, learning,” writes Crystal Brakke. “Even as I sit here crying, I remember that James.”

The $2 million teacher

A Georgia kindergarten teacher has earned $2 million selling her lesson plans and ideas online to other teachers.

#snap

A student wrote #YOLO (You Only Live Once) on his math quiz. The teacher responded:

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Teacher fired for breaking up fight with broom

A Detroit public school teacher was fired after she used a broomstick in an attempt to break up a fight between two large teenage boys, reports Richard Fernandez on Belmont Club. The two boys crashed into tables and battered each other as classmates screamed.

One of the children, really the size of a man, emotionally recounted his trauma at being hit by the broom though his mother expressed the hope that a suitable monetary compensation would go far to allay his distress.

Teachers are supposed to use a two-way radio to call a security guard when students are fighting. The radio didn’t work, said the teacher, a small woman who’d been hired in January.

Does it surprise you to learn that Pershing High is a very low-performing school? No, it doesn’t.

Survivor will be history teacher

Eight years ago, a Downtown College Prep senior named Luis Falcon was attacked by gang members in a San Jose park. Stabbed nine times, he lost a kidney and spent a week in a coma. He learned how to walk again. He will earn a degree in history from the University of California at Santa Cruz in May, reports the Santa Cruz Sentinel.  A Teach for America corps member, Falcon will return to his old neighborhood to teach history at DCP.

luis falcon

Lying in the hospital for a month after the attack, Falcon started to think about his neighborhood.”Something needed to change in my neighborhood and maybe I could be that little spark,” he said.

Undocumented and ineligible for college aid, he enrolled at San Jose City College but dropped out after one semester. “I was just paranoid I was going to get attacked.”

After working in a factory for two years, Falcon returned to community college. He also tutored at a charter middle school and worked in DCP’s summer bridge program. He legalized his status and earned a scholarship to UC-Santa Cruz.

Jennifer Andaluz, DCP’s executive director, has known Falcon since he was in ninth grade. He has the “grit” teachers need to succeed, she told the Sentinel.  “It’s about developing a mindset where you can actually grow in the areas where you currently struggle, and that growth is only going to come about as a result of hard work,” Andaluz said.

I write about Downtown College Prep’s early years in Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the School That Beat the Odds.

Superheroes rescue math students

An Indiana math teacher created a comic book starring the Solution Squad, reports the Elkhart Truth. Jim McClain self-published the comic. He’s received a grant to create a free web-based comic.

Photo by James Buck/The Elkhart Truth

Silent or spoiled for ‘Game of Thrones’

A French math teacher quiets classroom chatter by threatening to write Game of Thrones spoilers on the board. Most of his students are fans of the TV series. The teacher has read all the books.

When students defied him, he wrote the names of everyone killed through the end of the series’ third season on the board, reports Belgium’s Nieuwsblad, which picked up the story from a French site, DansTonChat. A “religious silence” was maintained for the rest of the lesson, a student said.

The vanishing teacher

Jane Healey is Becoming Invisible In My Classroom, she writes on TeachThought. Since she “flipped” her middle-school classroom, her students ”

are learning without seeing me teach, hearing me teaching or even knowing I am teaching.”

In an innovative classroom, observers might see a teacher wandering around from student to student answering questions about writing a paragraph. Or, they might watch a teacher leaning over students’ shoulders pointing at the “About us” button on websites to check credibility. Or, they might catch the scene of a teacher kneeling next to a table guiding a group trying to solve a math problem about a pyramid made of pennies.

What they won’t see are the hours of prep work finding a “problem that matters,” creating LibGuides for safe web crawls, and setting up the Question Formula Technique for students to create essay questions. They also won’t see the hours of assessments based on rubrics the teacher coached students to develop.

When she’s not talking in front of the classroom, she’s still teaching, writes Healey.  Her “voice and ideas and coaching” are “in different places than they were before.”