Showing posts from 2016

Flipping The Script: Coders as Novelists

Last November, I had the distinct honor and privilege of being the title character in a New Yorker Magazine- Talk of the Town piece called “Can An English Teacher Learn to Code?” It was a privilege to get to speak up and out for young coders, for the Academy for Software Engineering (AFSE) and indirectly for the CS For All initiativethat was just beginning to take off here in NYC and later President Obama would push at the nationwide level.AFSE has been at the forefront of work-- work that Computer Science teacher Sean Stern says has made CS part of the core at our school- just like Math, Science, Social Studies and English.Our students understand that computer science is part of the four year sequence of learning and that there are opportunities to take full advantage of the experts, both inside and outside of school, that support the learning and development of all our students.
Fast forward one year.I am teaching Seniors at AFSE for the first time since joining the school four year…

The Morning After- How I Had Tough Conversations With My Students

The workshop yesterday at AFSE on Restorative Justice with Erin Dunlevy was well timed.  As we participated in the morning training, I honestly didn't think I would need to be using some of the tools I learned to soon.  But last night, I along with all of you, watching the election results and America broke my heart (though not unexpectedly- as we all like a bad boy, right?)

I finally fell asleep around 2, wondering what I would say to my students in the morning.  My first period class on Wednesday is my AP Lang class.  We just spent a month thinking about language and rhetoric in politics as well as reading Thank You For Arguing. The 11th graders have begun to think critically of language and word choice and how a writer or speaker can use language to achieve a goal.  I knew that combining a content circle and keeping the discussion grounded in the content I would be able to get through a 60 minute class with out crying.

Before class started, I asked a few of the kids who arrive …

An Open Letter to Incredible Women on: Words, Gender and Unintentional Consequences

Dear Incredible Women: 

This post has been coming for a long time.

On Friday, I along with another amazing female teacher Angela, sat in a large circle with our two advisory groups combined for what is becoming a weekly tradition of young women, talk, and challenging of thinking and ideas.  I have deliberately brought topics to the circle that are things that I am grappling with and genuinely want to hear what they have to think and say on a topic.

This week, I brought to them the questions: 

When do we as females transition from being girls to women? When do we begin to self identify as women and even in some cases- like I have- reject the label of girl, because I have earned my status as women in my family, community, and society? 

I listened to them dance around the question for 30 minutes, touching on everything from their relationships and learning from their own mothers, aunties, and older sisters to what they feel they need to accomplish in life and how that is tied to womanhood. 


Summer Reading: Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande

I am heading into the second year of my grad program in school leadership (read: Administration). We were asked to read Atul Gawande's Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance. After everything I have been through over the last 3 years including weight loss surgery and the ensuing massive weight loss, thyroid cancer, vocal cord paralysis and surgery to help the paralysis, and surprise gall stones that led to numerous medical challenges between Thanksgiving and the end of the school year- and lots of trips to the ER and yet one more was a difficult book for me to read. However, it left me with lots of ideas and thinking about systems, methods, and how to do things better.
There were so many moments that stood out:  “We want doctors to push and find a way...We also want doctors to fight even in the most mundane of situations.” (160) and “At some point you have to admit that you are up against a problem you are not going to solve and that, by pushing further and harder…

Leadership: Thinking About Support

As teachers, we often ask questions that we already know the answers to.  It is part of the planning process to anticipate what might be confusing and how we will navigate said confusion with questions to help students navigate through and ultimately come out the other side with a new sense of what they think, believe or even feel about a topic.

Next month, I begin the second year of the CLASS program at Hunter College facilitated by New Visions for Public Schools. I am studying to earn my SBL license.  As a result, I often find myself thinking about leadership and management.  Last night, I was sitting around with family.  Both my parents are now retired.  Some how we got onto the topic of: what makes a good manager.  I already knew the answer to the question I was going to ask, but I asked it any way.  What do you need from a manager in order to do your best work?

The first part of the answer I got was what I expected, because it is what I always want. It's about autonomy.  As e…

I Did It - CSNYC CS Pedagogy Meetup!

I was asked this year to present a workshop at the CSNYC CS Pedagogy Meetup, a monthly meeting of educators and others to hear about and discuss the things that are afoot in the CS teaching world.  Now you may be thinking to yourself, why is Meredith there?  Doesn't she teacher theatre and English?  Its true, I do but I have been working on creating interdisciplinary learning experiences for my 9th graders that use the tools they are learning in their CS class (Scratch) to explore the content we are covering in theatre.  While I knew I was not going to be the big draw of the morning, I had a great group of about 10 educators who stayed to hear about my work, try and few things out and talk about how they can bring collaboration and innovation to their own teaching and learning communities.  I also got some great ideas about how to use some of the things I am doing to teach sequencing when we are exploring narrative.

Overall, a very positive morning.  Thanks to Maor, Sean and CSN…

Day 30: What #Aprilblogaday Challenge Gave Me

Take Aways: New thinking about yourself and/or your craft after completing the April Blog A Day Challenge

This is my second year doing the April Blog A Day Challenge.  Last year, it came just a few weeks after I had undergone major surgery to remove the cancer from my body.  It was a scary time and having the space to write and reflect, to focus on my work and think about the hows and whys of my craft were a welcome distraction.  I didn't think that this year I would be facilitating this journey for others.  I wish I has been able to get more people involved.  I pitched to the staff of 50+ teachers at my school and while in theory teachers want to do this kind of work, making time to write and reflect in this way is a big ask of oneself when already feeling overwhelmed with the work to be done.
Ultimately, I am glad I took this on.  I wish I had pushed harder, dig deeper.  I also valued the insight that the small group of bloggers brought to the conversations.  As always the thinkin…

Day 29: Teacher Appreciation Week! #AprilBlogADay

-->Prompt: Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up. (May 2-6)- How do you celebrate your work and the work of your colleagues? 

One of my favorite people, Kathleen, who also happens to be an amazing 8th grade teacher, posted a photo of herself on Facebook yesterday sitting in a GIANT beach chair. (Does spring break really have to end?!)  In the comments I wrote, "Edith Ann!" realizing after the fact that she may have no idea who I was talking about.  I had not thought about Edith Ann in years and then this morning as I was doing a little research for this blog post I came across this quote:

"I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework."  
~Lily Tomlin as "Edith Ann"

 This is so, so true.  As we head into teacher appreciation week it is important to thank teachers for their work and commitment to thinking. My favorite and best teachers challenged my thinking about what I was learning.  For me, every day I step into…