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Indy Study: The Known World by Edward P. Jones

The Known World, like Parable of the Sower, takes me in a very different direction with this independent study. However, its uniqueness does not come so much from the images of white people within the book (most of whom, while complex, are familiar historical types of people), but from the juxtaposition of the white characters along side the black characters in the moral universe the novel creates. Set in the fictional Manchester County, Virginia, in the years leading up to the Civil War, this universe centers around Henry and Caldonia Townsend -- a slave owning black couple. Whereas in many of the other books I've read as part of this study or thought about in a similar context earlier (The Bluest Eye, Black on White, Native Son, Autobiography of Malcolm X) there is a prominent moral difference between white and black, Jones condemns every aspect of the society so sick that it treated many of its members as chattel. The contrast in The Known World is not between black and white, but rather between those who benefitted from slavery and those who suffered from it. However, one of the book's many impressive aspects is its incredibly rich moral complexity; identifying just about any character as one who benefits or suffers from slavery is a gross oversimplification (and a great challenge for writing about this book). I have decided to look at three different characters who represent the various economic relationships to slavery: William Robbins, owner of the most slaves in Manchester County; Winifred Skiffington, whose "middle class" standing is reliant on her husband John's position as sheriff and its reliance on the planters' approval; and Barnum Kinsey, the poorest white man in Manchester County. By no means is this analysis exhaustive of the white characters within the novel, nor the fullness of what they represent.

William Robbins is representative of many of the basic contradictions of slavery. As the county's largest economic beneficiary of slavery, he seeks to do everything possible to insure his continued wealth. His (unsubstantiated) fear of slave escape is enough to get a sheriff fired, and additional slave patrols added. While still owning Henry Townsend, Robbins is infuriated when Henry's recently freed father, Augustus, pushes his son for insubordination. Robbins yells at Augustus, "I won't have you touching my boy, my property" (19), and bans Henry's parents' weekly visits for a month. Robbins capitalistic mind frame prohibits the consideration of humanity in relationship to slaves. However, as soon as economic considerations are lifted, Robbins shows the capability for humane actions. After Henry is freed, Robbins helps him to establish his own plantation (which is a contradiction in itself, as this involves the purchase of slaves for Henry). Robbins also develops a more loving relationship with one of his slaves, Philomena, than he has with his wife.

Winifred Skiffington, and her husband John, represent what can best be described as a "liberal" southern perspective. Winifred comes from Philadelphia and a soft abolitionist perspective. John does not seem particularly supportive of slavery, though also is not actively against it. When the Skiffingtons are given a young female slave, Minerva, as a wedding present, they decide to keep her and treat her as a "daughter" (31) because she "might be better off" (34) with them than under other owners. They do not free her because they are afraid of "what the neighbors might say" (34), revealing the shallow limits of their liberalism. Years later, Winifred and Minerva move to Philadelphia and Minerva leaves to live with a black family without notifying Winifred. Winifred, corrupted by her time in the South, reveals contradictory sentiments in the missing poster she commissions. While she claims that she "must have [her] daughter back" (166), she also adds the poster that Minerva "Will Answer To The Name Minnie" (381). This refers back to how Minverva's initial introduction to Winifred as a slave (32). Despite her philosophical opposition to slavery, Winifred is unable to break free from her political-economic relationship to Minerva as chattel.

Barnum Kinsey is in many ways a literary embodiment of what David Roediger describes in The Wages of Whiteness. He is a poor white, "saved...from bein a ni**** only by the color of his skin" (42). However, despite his complete lack of wealth and his perpetual drunkenness, Kinsey receives some emotional benefit form his superior status to slaves. Though he is very aware of the moral horror of his fellow slave catchers' sale of Augustus, a free man, he does not actively prevent the sale. Even when he informs John Skiffington some time later of what happened, he expresses concern that he will be seen as a "ni**** kisser" (303). Kinsey, despite being well aware of the moral horror that was chattel slavery, is unwilling to sacrifice the mild benefit that he receives from the system, even though it is this system that limits the value of his labor.

Works Cited: Jones, Edward P. The Known World. New York: Amistad, 2003.

Indy Study: The Next Set of Books

I am now switching gears a bit with the independent study to look at five books published from 1947-1956 that were written by black authors but focused primarily on white characters (and, from what I know about them now, do not focus primarily on race): Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, Savage Holiday by Richard Wright, Seraph on the Suwanee by Zora Neale Hurston, Country Place by Ann Petry, and Knock on Any Door by Willard Motley. When discussing my goals for this study one month ago, I raised a few questions about these books: Does the focus on white make race more or less visible? Are these books meant to be critical of their subject or are the lack of racial difference meant to allow the author to focus on other issues? How does the fact that these works are written by black, rather than white, authors change my reading and understanding of the book? These questions still remain.

When I wrote those questions, I hadn't realized when these books had been written. The decade they represent provides quite an interesting ground for inquiry. While this period is often taught in high schools as the "era of conformity" when soldiers returned from World War II to start families and move to the suburbs, the decade was experience was very different for the majority of blacks. The GI Bill, which entitled returning soldiers to subsidized education and easy access to home loans, largely created the modern middle class. However, these two important benefits were largely denied to blacks. The majority of black soldiers still lived in the South where universities were segregated (and black universities could only cater to a very small minority of eligible students), and therefore the tuition benefits were worthless. Simultaneously, restrictive covenants, red lining, and other forms of housing discrimination. (For more info on this subject, see "When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America" by Ira Katznelson). 1943 saw large race riots in both Detroit and Harlem. There were also 31 lynchings during the 1940's.

On the other hand, this period sees a tremendous amount of progress made in the black freedom struggle. A. Philip Randolph's March on Washington Movement successfully led to FDR's Executive Order 8802 in 1941, prohibiting discrimination in private contractors with government defense contracts. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was founded in 1942 and developed many of the mass-action techniques that would mark the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's and 60's. Jackie Robinson was signed to the Dodgers in '47, and the Armed Forces were desegregated a year later. The close of this period saw the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, and the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56 which marks the beginning of the modern Civil Rights Movement.

Writing against the backdrop of such events, I am very curious to see how writing at a time of drastic racial change effects how the authors' deal with issues in a homogeneously racialized world.

Next: Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

Previous Independent Study Posts:

Black on White: Black Writers on What It Means to Be White Edited by David Roediger

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Scaffolding Student Reflection

Tim Fredrick has two great posts about the capability of his students to reflect (or not reflect) during portfolio evaluation meetings. By recording all his students portfolio meetings, he was able to analyze the data and come up with types of "reflective"( and "non-flective") utterances:


1. Process – Reflective Type - The student reflects on his own personal process in completing the assignment. "This is my character sketch and this was a really difficult assignment for me. I had a lot of trouble starting and thinking about what I wanted my character to be like." This differs from its non-reflective counterpart in that it discusses the student’s own process and the student reflects on the positive and negative experiences he had with the piece of writing.
2. Criterion-Based Assessment – The student compares his work to criteria discussed in class. "I did well on my character sketch because I was able to show how my character was mean instead of telling the reader he was mean." He may or may not point to evidence in the text; being able to point to specific examples in the text that correspond to the criteria is preferred and considered more reflective.
3. Growth Over Time – The student compares two different pieces of work and shows how one is better by comparing it to a previous piece of work that was not as good. "You can see here that I did better with my freewriting because this first piece of freewriting in September I couldn't write nonstop, but in December you can see that I wrote non-stop for the entire 15 minutes."
These are tremendously helpful to me as I think about how to incorporate portfolio assessment into my plans for next year. I have to admit, while I have understood the purpose of portfolios on a theoretical level, I have never quite been able to make the leap to making them practically useful for my students (or for my students to get the value, for that matter). I am thinking part of that failure was that I never really considered what I wanted my students to do with the portfolios. Tim's posts helped me see part of that.

One of the strategies I was taught to use to help students learn to have complex, meaningful, and rigorous conversations was the use of "sentence starters." These are particularly helpful when I ask a student to share and they say something like, "Someone already said what I wanted to say." In this situation I can point the student to a list on the wall with suggestions like:
  • "I agree with ________, but I also think..."
  • "I agree with ________, and in addition..."
  • "I agree with ________, it's kind of like [something else we've discussed]"
These starters work as a scaffold to help students discuss concepts and ideas without the necessity of prompting from a teacher.

With the excellent data Tim has provided, I can see how a similar strategy would probably work to help student develop the capability to speak, write, and think reflectively. These also would make great journal prompts to be used throughout the semester, building towards the final portfolio reflection. Here's the sentence starters I would use:
  • "This was a really difficult/challenging assignment for me because..."
  • "This was a really easy assignment for me because..."
  • "In this assignment, we were supposed to [insert criteria]. You can see evidence of this in my work when I..."
  • "This assignment improved on my work in [earlier assignment] by..."


Transformative Education

(Second straight post that started as a comment but kept going ...)

Chris Lehmann has a phenomenal post about the goal of his new school not being just a great school, but a transformative one.

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of human transformation as I work on my thesis. I am looking at the Citizenship Educaiton Schools, a program organized by Septima Clark at the Highlander Folk School (now the Highlander Research and Education Center) and later MLK's Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The schools taught reading and writing to 40,000-60,000 illiterate southern black adults from 1957-1965 in order that they could pass the literacy test to register to vote. While the teaching of literacy (in a mere 80 hours of classroom time at that), was an incredible accomplishment in itself, the true power of the program was in its transformative effect on its students and teachers

For students, the schools were not just about learning literacy, but about doing some work to undue to horrific psychological effects of living in the terrorist state that was the Jim Crow South. The schools not only taught literacy, but also the basic knowledge necessary to be a citizen, such as with whom one could advocate about improving their lives. I can hardly imagine the effect these schools must of had on a woman in her 60's who was able to read and write her own name for the first time. The students, most of whom were women, also enabled them to teach reading and writing to their husbands and other family members. Andrew Young (one of King's top advisors, and former Congressman, Ambassador to the UN, and mayor of Atlanta), said that the entire Civil Rights Movement was built upon these students. The Citizenship Schools transformed the students in such a way that it eventually transformed the country.

But the Schools also transformed the teachers. The first teacher was a Charleston beautician named Bernice Robinson. Robinson was chosen because of her lack of teaching experience so that she would not look down upon her students. As the program grew, teachers were sought out who had a similar background: some education and independent stature within the community, but not professional teachers. By stepping into the classroom, these people were transformed into leaders in their communities, and in many cases would assume those leadership roles in wider arenas of influence. Robinson, who previously had worked on NAACP voter registration drives but had no community leadership experience, went on to the hundreds (and probably well over a thousand) of other Citizenship School teachers and observed dozens of schools across the South. She was transformed in a significant (though completely unheralded) leader in the Civil Rights Movement by her work in the schools.

Now, the Citizenship Schools responded to a serious crisis situation, which made their power for transformation what it was. Thankfully, the degree to which transformation was necessary in the 1950's and 60's does not exist. But in many ways, the difference is only one of degree. As I start to transition from grad student/historian to high school teacher over the next few months, one of the things I will be thinking about is how I can help build an educational community that has a similar effect. I'm thrilled to see Chris thinking about the same issues, and I can't wait to see how his process and school develops.


The Classroom as Studio

(Started writing this as a comment, but then kept on going and going so figured I'd post it over here).

Clarence has a great post up about the idea of viewing and using the classroom as a studio:

In these times where we want kids to be self - directed / self - driven learners who develop a creative sense of scholarship, the classroom as studio has great potential. Studios are busy places where activity hums. Studios are places of study, of thought, of creation and creativity. Studios are places where teams of people act together to create something of high - quality. Studios throughout history have been homes for artists, creators, scientists, architects and engineers. Studios are comfortable places with flexible furniture arrangements where people work though projects. Projects are brainstormed, created, evaluated, torn apart, and re - created in ways that are better.
I can't remember if I read this in one of her books or heard it one of the times I heard her speak, but Deborah Meier has advocated a similar idea, and I believe might have implimented it to some degree at the school she started in Boston.

I've been thinking for a while now that if (when?) I start a school, I would like to have some space in the school avaliable to artists, which would be rented to them below market cost in exchange for always being willing to have students observe their work. One of my biggest critiques of schools is the emphasis on completing tasks within a certain amount of time. While there are time constraints in many "real world" situations, there are also many other situations where projects develop over the course of hours, weeks, or years. Artists do not work on a bell schedule, and the best pieces of artistic work cannot be given a due date. And while it is almost impossible to imagine a school without any time constraints, I imagine the presence of artists would give a wonderful example of another way of working (and would also hopefully lead to student/artist collaborations, such as those available from groups such as Young Audiences).


Lifehacker on Online Safety

Lifehacker, which has quickly become one of my favorite 'professional blogs' since I discovered it a few months back, just put up a piece on educating kids about the safety issues of MySpace and other online publishing forums. They have a closed community of commenters, which has its strengths and weaknesses, but the discussion tends to be interesting. Worth following.

Grades for Lunch?

Though it sounds radical at first glance, Alice Waters' NYTimes Op-Ed piece makes a lot of sense:

Universal physical education is a start, and it's a shame that schools have been cutting back on recess and gym. But in a country where nine million children over 6 are obese we need the diet part of the equation, too. It's time for students to start getting credit for eating a good lunch.


I Concur

It's extremely rare that I read something I agree with 100%. Here's a nice exception: Ellen Meyer's article, Keeping New Teachers From Dropping Out (Gotham Gazette, via Tim). It gives a great analysis of what teaching is, as well as explaining why many who try it out don't last long. One of the many great excerpts:

Teaching is all about relationships — the building of relationships between teacher and students. That’s why it is so hard. One elementary school teacher must have relationships with up to 35 very different individuals, each with diverse learning styles, needs, and levels of engagement. A high school teacher will typically teach 150 students.

There is research on the extraordinary number of decisions that a teacher has to make at any given moment —- more decisions minute-by-minute than a brain surgeon. The most conservative estimate from this data has teachers making approximately 130 decisions per hour during a six-hour school day, and this reflects only those decisions made within the classroom. This is extraordinarily daunting and often intimidating for new teachers. It makes support from administrators and colleagues so vital.
The article also provides great justification for the advice I typically give people who ask me my opinion about Teach For America or New York Teaching Fellows: It's a horrible idea, but more people should do it.


Indy Study: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

The Parable of the Sower took me along a very different path from the previous books at which I've looked. For one, it is a piece of science fiction, a genre I don't think I've touched since I was 13 or 14. And unlike any of the other books, race does not play a defining role in terms of the lives or relationships of the book's characters.

Parable of the Sower takes place in a dystopian near-future version of California where water is more expensive than food, government has for all intents ceased to function, and the 'middle class' are those whose impoverished communities are protected from drug addicts and thieves by walls and other measures (the world she described is an exaggerated version of the post-industrail conditions of many urban centers in the 1980's. The drug epidemic described in the book is clearly meant to parallel crack, and the pro-buisness President is a thinly-vieled Reagan figure). When her village is destroyed, Lauren, a teenage girl who is developing her own religion, leads a group of survivors to better conditions they have heard about in the North.

While the world Butler describes is hardly color blind - there are references to tensions between interracial coupling and traveling in multiracial groups - the interpretation of the world we see through Lauren's diary entries does not involve race as a deterministic factor. Lauren recognizes that "people are expected to fear and hate everyone but their own kind," yet her"neighborhood is too small for us to play those kinds of games" (31). Later in the book there is a reference for it being easier for one of the white characters, Henry, to find a job because of his skin color. However, other than references such as these, race does not play a major factor. The three main white characters, Henry, Jill, and Allie, are not depicted any differently than black and latino characters of similar classes. While technically their whiteness is a property, it does not give them any advantages within the context of the narrative.

On a separate note, I would love to read this book with high schoolers. It raises a lot of interesting issues of community, resource allocation, and identity in a way that would be provocative to many adolescents. And while it is no literary masterpiece, it has enough nuance to be the source of a good analysis at the high school level.

Works Cited:
Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. New York: Warner Books, 1993.

Next: The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Got a Job for the Fall! Bronx Lab School

Yesterday, I was hired to teach at the Bronx Lab School this coming Fall. I couldn't be more excited about the fit.

Bronx Lab is one of the many new small schools in NYC (for those not familiar, the NYC Public Schools are breaking up large high schools into smaller themed high schools, both in an effort to give students and their families a choice in the type of school they attend, as well as enjoying the immense benefits of smaller learning communities). The school is in its second year, and is already showing tremendous promise. It has about 100 students per grade (this year it is 9th and 10th, and they will add 11th grade next year), and keeps class sizes to a manageable 20-25 students. Everyone seems to know everyone else, and there is a noticeable level of respect between the students and staff. Teachers are addressed by their first name (which all my former students will know that I am very happy about). Most of the students I talked to seemed to be genuinely happy to attend. The school plans to send every graduate to college, and seems to be on the way to achieving that goal (just for comparison, the large high school that used to exist in the building where there are now 6 small schools had a graduation rate of about 20%). I've had the chance to meet most of the teachers and all the leadership, all of whom are obviously gifted, enthusiastic, and committed to the students they serve.

Curriculum wise, the school stresses student-centered, project orientated, integrated curriculum, which is most definitely my cup of tea. And while the school is in some way still confined by the Regents Exams (content based test in New York State that students must pass in order to graduate), testing is not the schools focus (a HUGE relief given the environment I was in last year in Virginia). The school already has an integrated math and science curriculum, and the leadership wants to move towards having a similar integration between social studies and English (and potentially a fully integrated curriculum across all disciplines in 11th and 12th grade). Students have an extended day on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, where they are required to participate in an elective, though the list of electives is completely responsive to student demand.

The school's most unique program is a required semester internship. For one semester either in 10th, 11th, or 12th grade, students are pulled out of all their classes and participate in a fully integrated curriculum based around an internship in a field in which they are interested. Students spend two days a week at the internship, and the other three days they are in the school doing primarily individual work which ties into their internship thematically, and also must incorporate the habits of thought of all four major disciplines. They also do some project work for the classes they are missing (the 10th graders rights now also take math, though that may not continue). The internship program is based on one developed by the Big Picture Company at the Met School in Providence, RI. I did part of my student teaching, as well as some volunteer work, at the Met while an undergrad, and I can vouch for the unbelievable success of the program (100% of their graduates go to college, something like 2/3 are the first in their family to go). One "advisor" takes 13 students for the semester, and is their only teacher.

I interviewed to be either an internship advisor or social studies teacher. I could end up in either position at this point, demanding on who else the school hires. Both positions offer tremendous opportunities for me, though, if it were left up to me, I'm leaning towards the internship position (the potentials for integrating blogging and other technology uses into the program are limitless, among other appealing aspects of it). And luckily I'll be able to spend a lot of time at the school during the rest of this year to get to know it better and become part of the team as they begin planning for next year.

Though there will certainly be many challenges that come with teaching in an urban environment, I couldn't be happier about the opportunity to help build a community whose mission I am truly passionate about. I'll be sure to post more as I spend more time at the school.

Read more about the school here and here (I discovered Chris Lehmann's blog while doing research on the school. He is opening a new school in Philadelphia, the Science Leadership Academy, this coming Fall. He has some pretty fascinating insights about education and the process of building a school community on his site)


Reason #8972 to be Critical of 'Facts'

One more thing. Not to cast doubt on a record — or on the hard-working people who keep it — but do you know who measures the snow at Central Park? The security guards at the zoo. They read the numbers off a stick set in a flat, tree-ringed clearing near the sea lion pool.

Therefore, the words, "According to the National Weather Service, the snowfall in Central Park..." actually mean, "According to the security guards at the Central Park Zoo." (NYTimes, via Gothamist)
There's certainly a lot of snow outside here, but even the sidewalk drifts in my neighborhood weren't quite two feet.


Reflections on Being a Student Blogger

Though this is really obvious, I just realized that I have become a student blogger...and I am really struggling with it. As I think both my previous posts for my independent study have shown, I have essentially just posted brief essays on each book I have read. This does not seem to be taking advantage of what blogging has to offer (other than the fact that I am writing for a public audience). I am curious how others have dealt with blogging about specific content.

I imagine if I was doing the same type of writing as part of a class this would not be much of an issue, as there would be other posts on the same subject on which to respond. However, seeing as I am doing independent work, work on a subject that very few people have ever written on, and I am at a loss to come up with a model of writing that is not simply in the form of an essay or a reading journal.

Indy Study: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

(Note: This entry contains references a sexual act. I would never had added a note like this if not for the scars from teaching last year in a district with the most active organization in the country of the organization of parents that tries to ban books from school libraries. So if you have a problem with content of this nature, please stop reading.)

I hadn't picked up a book by Morrison since I was in high school, and honestly forgot just how unbelievably talented she is as a writer and stylist. I can only think of a handful of other authors I've read who have a similar effect on me just through their use of language (Joyce, Dostoevsky, and Hemingway are the others that come to mind). I'm feeling very intimidated in my attempts to write anything critical for a public audience about such a work.

The Bluest Eye, taken as a whole, serves simultaneously as an affirmation of the natural and cultural beauty of Americans who are considered black, and an indictment of the racist society that denies this beauty and internalizes the denial within many blacks. While there are no developed white characters within the novel, white people and whiteness itself make frequent cameos to demonstrate the roots of self-loathing found in many characters. While whiteness undoubtedly functions as a terror throughout the novel, Morrison's depiction of whiteness is unique (within my reading at this point) in how it functions deterministically to create self-loathing black characters. Morrison outlines both the process and resistance to it from the perspective of a black female:

Then they had grown. Edging into life from the back door. Becoming. Everybody in the world was in a position to give them orders. White women said, "do this." White children said, “ Give me that.” White men said, “Come here.” Black men said, “Lay down.” The only people they need not take orders from were black children and each other. But they took all of that and re-created it in their own image. They ran the houses of white people, and knew it. When white men beat their men, they cleaned up the blood and went home to receive abuse from the victim. They beat their children with one hand and stole for them with the other (108).
The most clear instances of the process are found thought the depiction of Pauline and Cholly Breedlove. Both visit horrors upon their children thanks to their experiences with white people. The experiences take very different forms.

Cholly is the victim of overt dehumanization at the hands of two white men. While in the midst of losing his virginity after the funeral for his closest relative, Cholly and his sexual partner, Darlene, are discovered in a field by two white hunters. With guns in hand, the two white men force Cholly to continue the act while addressing him by various derogatory names and criticizing his sexual performance. The white men turn the act of sex into one of rape. Cholly is forced to physically rape Darlene, while the two white men psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually rape Cholly. For Cholly, sex is transformed from an act of pleasure and desire into one of hate and control. Cholly's acts "With a violence born of total helplessness" (116). Cholly continues to act with a similar violence throughout the rest of his life.

Pauline's internalization of inferiority takes a less overt path. Pauline is destroyed by Cholly's violence, as well as by "her education in the movies" which gave her a "scale of absolute beauty, and the scale was one she absorbed in full from the silver screen" (95). This leads Pauline to seek out and thrive in a role as a domestic worker for white families, where she takes on the stereotypical "mammy" role. Seeking the beauty she imagines through film, she embraces domestic work and becomes "the ideal servant" (99). This comes at the price of a denial of her identity. While too her employers she is "Polly," her children know her only as Mrs. Breedlove. When Cholly and Pauline's daughter, Pecola, visits Pauline at the house of her employment one day, Pauline denies to the white child any connection to her own daughter. Pauline embraces an idealized image of whiteness as beauty, while conversely seeing herself and family as ugliness.

The sins of the mother and father are ultimately transfered to the daughter, Pecola. Pecola cannot recognize any beauty in her self. After being raped and impregnated by Cholly, Pecola seeks out a healer to give her blue eyes. When Pecola gets her eyes, her identity and being is rent, as indicated by the conversation she has with herself (152-162). The desire for beauty that is external to the self serves to violently destroy the young girl's psyche, bringing the novel to a tragic end. In her desire for whiteness as property, the beauty she sees in whiteness as represented by blue eyes, Pecola suffers from the terrorist attacks that whiteness levied against her parents.

Work Cited:
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. London: Vintage, 1994.

Next: Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Back in Teaching Mode

I hadn't realized just how much I missed teaching.

I've been in the midst of the interview process at a wonderful new small school in NYC the past week, Bronx Lab School. I had a phone interview last weekend, made a visit to the school on Monday and had the chance to meet informally with most of the staff, and returned Friday for a formal interview. I'm going back Wednesday to teach a class, and REALLY hope that it will be the first of many classes I teach at the school. I'm afraid to jinx myself somehow, so don't want to write too much about the school. I'll just say that I'd be hard pressed to find a more perfect fit for my next teaching job.

It was really nice to be back in a teaching frame of mind throughout the week. I spent a nice chunk of the week updating my teaching portfolio (it's password protected since it has student photos in there, leave a comment with your e-mail and I can send you the password if you're interested). Between that, spending a good part of two school days visiting, and catching up on the edublogosphere reading I've hardly had the chance to do the past 6 months, I've realized how much stronger my passion is for educating than for everything else I'm doing. I'm really glad I went to grad school this year, and really have grown a lot from the experience, but at this point I'm counting down the weeks until the first bell rings next September. It's been really great to catch up on how Bud, Clarence, Darren, and others have developed their use of blogs in their classes since last Spring when I started, and I can't wait to join them in the fall.

But first, have to catch up on all the work I didn't do the past week...