Creative Writing, Teaching, Uncategorized

Speaking Through the Ages

He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said She said He said He said He said He said She said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said She said He said He said He said He said He said He said She said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said She said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said She said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said He said She said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said She said She said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said She said He said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said She said He said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said She said He said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said He said said He said She said He said He said He said He said He said She said He said She said He said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said She said He said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said He said He said She said He said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said She said He said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said She said He said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said She said He said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said She said He said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said She said He said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said She said He said She said He said said He said She said He said He said She said He said He said He said He said She said He said He said She said Ve said He said She said He said They said He said She said He said She said Xe said He said She said He said She said They said Xe said Per said She Said He said He said Se Said They said He said

 

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Education, Teaching, Uncategorized

Just Ask

Ask      the girl crying in the washroom.

Ask      the custodian with a twisted back.

Ask      the boy with a fresh bruise.

Ask      the two kids holding hands.

Ask      the boy praying for his life in the stairwell.

Ask       the new kid.

Ask      the girl giving a blowjob in the washroom.

Ask      the boy doodling dragons in class.

Ask       the Principal (but only if she knows your name).

Ask      the supply teacher that doesn’t know who to call for help.

Ask      Gregory Doucette.

Ask      the VP that doesn’t know how to say ‘no’.

Ask      the attendance secretary.

Ask      the kid waiting for the library to open.

Ask      the teachers in the staffroom, workroom and book room.

Ask      the kid that just signed out.

Ask      the history teacher just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Ask      the school nurse.

Ask      the young girl that wishes she were invisible.

Ask      the young boy that forgot to gel his hair.

Ask      the boy that forgot his lunch.

Ask       the kid with Tourette’s.

Ask       the mouse that only comes out at night.

Ask       the boy who needs a bath.

Ask       Mr. Bukowski.

Ask       the school social worker.

Ask      the girl that was just called a ‘slut’.

Ask       the kid that changes his route everyday.

Ask      the kid losing his hair.

Ask       Jordan Manners.

Ask      the boy that just found a knife.

Ask      the girl that carved ‘fuck life’ on the back of her hand.

Ask      the boy that wants to be a girl.

Ask      they’ll all tell you: the hallways at school can be a terrifying place.

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Education, Literacy, Teaching

How to Find Out What’s Really Happening in Schools

  1. If you want to know just how serious your child’s school takes literacy, don’t use the province wide test as a marker- visit the school’s library.
  2. If you want to know how your child’s school values their health, visit the school cafeteria.
  3. If you want to know just how serious your child’s school values their ability to think, ask them how many multiple choice questions made up their final exam.
  4. If you want to see how your child is really doing in math, give them the grocery money and let them do the shopping. NOTE: They can’t spend a penny more or less. They are not allowed to use a calculator.
  5. If you want to see if your child’s school values differentiated instruction, ask them about their most recent assignment and how it was different from the last one that they handed in.
  6. If you want to see if your child really is information literate, ask them to search for something without using Google.
  7. If you want to see if your child cheats on assignments for school, ask them to write their next essay, in front of you, without using a computer.
  8. If you want to see how serious your child’s school values history, social justice and empathy, visit in February and ask about what’s scheduled for Black History Month. 
  9. If you want to know how safe your child’s school is don’t just ask the Principal – speak to the social worker, youth worker and the custodian.
  10. If you want to see if your child is learning anything at school, don’t look at their report cards- just ask them.
  11. If you really want to see if your child is prepared for the future, take a look at how much the education system has changed since you were in school.
  12. If you want your child to succeed, don’t put your failures in life on them. Let them choose their path; choice is everything (unless, of course, it comes in the form of a multiple choice question). 
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Creative Writing, Education, Teaching

Meet Mr. Ben Driscoll

I thought it might be cool to interview one of my own characters from my novel-in-progress. The book is a made up of nine loosely connected short stories that document the lives of teachers and students of a high school in the middle of anywhere and everywhere.

Stay tuned for more.

_________

Chapter 4: Ben Driscoll; 59 years of age; three months shy of retirement after having taught History for over 30 years.

_________

Interviewer: Will you show up for work tomorrow?

Ben Driscoll: I’m not allowed back in the classroom.

Interviewer: Why is that?

Ben Driscoll: I’d rather not say.

Interviewer: Did you do something?

Ben Driscoll: No. I said something.

Interviewer: And…you’d rather not share?

Ben Driscoll: That’s correct.

Interviewer: Is there alcohol in that thermos, Mr. Driscoll?

Ben Driscoll: Of course.

Interviewer: Do you drink?

Ben Driscoll: Don’t you?

Interviewer: You’ve taught history for over thirty years; are you looking forward to the future? Retirement?

Ben Driscoll: I am now.

Interviewer: You haven’t always?

Ben Driscoll: No. I used to love teaching.

Interviewer: What happened?

Ben Driscoll: What didn’t happen? I spent my whole life looking back into the past that I didn’t see what was coming up ahead.

Interviewer: Do you think you’ll miss teaching history?

Ben Driscoll: No.

Interviewer: Why not?

Ben Driscoll:  Because in this day and age, history doesn’t matter- it doesn’t exist.

Interviewer: Do you think your illness makes you say things like that?

Ben Driscoll: I do. I’m beginning to forget things.

Interviewer: Don’t you think that’s ironic: A history teacher that is beginning to forget?

Ben Driscoll: Perhaps I should have taught English.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Books, Teaching

The Magic of Marquez

It was with great sadness that I read The Guardian article that Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s writing career may be over. Very few writers have impacted me the way he has. 100 Years of Solitude taught me more about life and literature than any other piece of writing ever has. I’ll never forget finishing the book the first time (I’ve read it at least four times) and being overwhelmed by a feeling that I had just experienced something profound, earth shattering, humbling, and even mystical. The story of Macondo is the story of us all.

Marquez also taught me that magic is more than a rabbit in a hat or a scarf up a sleeve. He taught me that magic is something that we wake up to, something we experience in our everyday lives. There is no price of admission for a magic show-all we have to do is open our eyes and see.

This sounds like a eulogy; if he never publishes another book it is like a passing. Marquez changed my life, and even though he may be losing his memory, I know I’ll never forget him.

I recently read the interview that he did with Paris Review magazine. Reading it was like spending time with an old friend. I learned a few things about him, and was reminded of his genius and immense talent.

Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 69, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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Education, Teaching

I Know You Didn’t Ask For It (But You Should Have).

The other day I had a student come into the library to ask for help on an assignment. He needed to interview somebody about about their profession. I had seen kids working on the assignment earlier in the week so I knew it was late and that the young man was being given a last chance. When we sat in my office I asked to see the questions. He told me he didn’t have any and was hoping that I could help him with that part too. I rolled my eyes, secretly smiled, and suggested a few that he might want to work with. The questions were:

Why did you get into teaching? What do you like and dislike about the profession?  What advice do you have for young teachers coming into the profession?

When I got home that evening the last questions popped into my mind. I thought it might be an interesting thing to try and answer my own question:

What advice do I have for young teachers coming into the profession?

Teach students the rules, and then encourage them to break a few.

Assign them a textbook and then tell them to put it away.

Don’t teach high school because you loved high school.

Use poetry to teach history, math to teach dance, science to teach religion, and a recipe to teach law.

Literacy changes- pay attention.

These kids can smell a fake from a mile away.

Your worst year of teaching will be your 4th, 7th, 12th or 15th.

Find a mentor.

If all your going to do is give notes, and have them take notes, you may as well not even be there.

When you don’t look forward to coming into work, its time for a career change.

Your department head is not your boss.

Look up the term critical thinking.

Read (and let them see you doing it).

There is more to writing than the five-paragraph essay.

Everything you see, hear, smell, touch and taste is material for a lesson.

Don’t keep a binder.

Avoid the staffroom.

If there is a child struggling in your class take responsibility.

Don’t be the teacher whose class you slept through when you were in high school.

The best advice I ever got as a teacher was, “They’re all children that want, and need, to be loved.”

Enjoy the best job in the world.

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