The Skeptical English Teacher

Questioning the Norm

Opinionated Teachers

I am just as fed up with the system as everyone else… and I want to do something to change it.  The only people who think that the direction we are going in education is okay are the tenured teachers or the massive unions.  Yes, every teacher wants to be tenured. Who wouldn’t want job security for the rest of their lives after only 3 years of “proving” you are good at your job.  The government regulations, failing schools, college freshmen in abundance having to take non-college level courses to catch up to the college expectations, unions creating ads that beg parents to vote for props that provide money that no schools ever see.

My mom asked me the other day about this meme:

Image result for teacher classroom vs government classroom meme

It’s true. The government or the unions do not provide money for an awesome classroom or most of the supplies teachers use.  The government will NEVER provide this, but you know who will?  Parents.  Parents in private schools do this and it’s not only because they have money.  It’s because they care about where their kids go to school and who they are with for 7 hours each day.  No matter what the government or the unions beg from parents, you know what parents care about most?  Their kids’ teachers and their kids’ schools.  So let them have the freedom to choose where they go.


As teachers we also have the responsibility to our students to present the facts and teach students how to think, not what our political beliefs are.  We have always been a divided nation.  There have always been half liberals and half conservatives. Our nation has been effective when the two sides work together and COMPROMISE.  But through this severe division, we have demonized the other side and refused to see logic in it.  As teachers if we express our political beliefs then we are ostracizing about 50 percent of our population.  It’s humiliating and infuriating for a student to sit in a classroom while their teacher demonizes what they and/or their parents believe.  I know because I’ve experienced it; however, I am not that person who will sit quiet.

It’s a lost art to present facts without opinions.  It’s something that I am passionate about and I create my lessons and units to teach high school age students to identify bias, analyze each side of any issue, and make a case for their opinions based on facts and not emotions.  I hope to start a trend.


  • What do you think about school choice?  Why?
  • Do you believe that the current school system is effective? Why or why not?
  • What should parents and teachers do to effect change?



Featured post

Teach Hard or Go Home

One of the qualities of the best teachers that I have ever had is when they aren’t afraid to  make a fool of themselves or fail in front of their students.  They go hard. They buy into their silliness, and they don’t care if the students sigh and roll their eyes or join in.  I think of it as the one piece of being a teacher (you know, since we are so many things policeman, councilor, psychic, doctor, and many, many other things).  One of the hats we wear is performer.

I went to a small venue for a rap concert one time.  The crowd was small, but the venue was nice.  When the performer came on stage, he danced and jumped around that entire stage, he was fully committed to going 100 and giving the best performance of his life even though the venue was only about a quarter full.  He did not let the crowd set the mood; he set it.  And song by song, the audience began to loosen up and dance.  It amazed me that one person could change the mood of so many people and influence them to do something they wouldn’t normally do.

That’s the way we can be as teachers.  The students can come in with any variation of moods (especially if you are teaching teens or preteens), but we can be the guiding force of emotions in the classroom.  If you are going to teach something, think of a way to really get their attention.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Draw something and make fun of your drawing ability.  Sing for your students.  Bring in a song that their parents listen to that has relevance to your lesson and sing along.  I have a lesson in which I use the song For What it’s Worth (Hey children what’s that sound), and I remind the students that they will never hear that song again without thinking of me, that I will be immortalized in their minds forever through that song… then I laugh an evil cackle. They roll their eyes but laugh.

When Failure Happens

On a more serious note, failure will happen.  We will say or do things that will be embarrassing or say something completely wrong.  I cannot count the amount of times I have fallen on my face in front of the students.  I guess that’s the price I pay for wearing my emotions on my sleeve and having little filter (I blame four years in the Marine Corps for that!!). But you know what?  Being honest about failure is huge.  Be honest with them and they will generally respect you for it.  (note: you don’t have to be honest EVVVERY time.  I make so many mistakes that it would lose its power after a while.  Pick and choose what’s important.)

Sell Your Performance

As for doing a new speaking engagement or new lesson, you might feel embarrassed or insecure.  Don’t let that fleeting emotion stop you.  When I’m feeling insecure or bashful, I play a kind of game with myself.  I remind myself to “fake it till ya make it.”  I am actually pretty introverted, no one ever believes me because I never shut up half the time.  But I’ll go the whole week without talking to almost anyone and then all my words build up in class, and they all come flooding out, and I can’t stop them; I have honestly tried.  (I also blame the fact that I love this MA TESOL program, and I love discussing education as a whole.)  But I honestly have to hype myself up before doing a speaking engagement out of my element (my element is teenagers).  What is not my element is  standing in front of a classroom of adults trying to tell them how or what to teach.  So when I do have to speak in front of adults, it is a performance.  I do the whole, back stage building up and controlling my emotions, I practice, and then I go out there, turn my analytical brain off and act like I know what in the world I am doing and am saying.  I pretend like I’m an expert in the field.  I use my hands, walk around, make eye contact, and try to make what I’m saying sound like the most important thing anyone has ever heard. We become salesmen in this mode.   Salesmen have to convince themselves that their product is the best before they can convince anyone else.  Believe that your lesson or speech is going to change lives.  Believe that you know exactly what you are talking about… Because if you believe it, they will.  On the rare chance that they see through your facade, they will most likely see that everyone else loves it and won’t say anything to rock the boat (well not always, but you can count on that most of the time).

So go be silly, goofy, and confident. Fake it if you must, and Teach Hard or Go Home!!

The Path of an Entrepreneur

I’ve said a few times that I’ve never thought of myself as an Entrepreneur, but that has changed.  Through a series of events this year, I have realized that I’m capable of doing much more than classroom teaching.  I have realized that I can create and build whatever I want to do.  For instance, I have the ability to create unique curriculum and written documents with a combination of skills that I was born with and some that I have learned.

I have realized that I have is that I can see the big picture while being able to break down the steps to achieve that goal.  I can use formal documents or standards that I am unfamiliar with, quickly read and understand them, and then use those standards to create a plan to apply them.   I can teach myself how to do anything, read any formal documents, and create a plan to achieve a goal.

I actually LOVE this process.  Just the other day I began to work with a lady that I didn’t know to create curriculum for her physical therapy course (I have no experience in physical therapy).  She sent me the standards and expectations that she needs to cover during her course and I began to map out a lesson plan and unit plan that she can use so that she can use this guide for her state required accreditation document.

This is all second nature for me.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE it.  That said, I am already thinking of ways that I can streamline this process for other professionals to use.

Working with different people, teaching them how to think like a teacher, and helping them to write or create what they need to be successful would be my DREAM JOB!!

During something like this, I would do what I was made to do: TEACH.  And work with adults to do what I love: create, write, research, and collaborate.  Finally, I get to move on and do it again in a different environment, with different people.  This is a definite plus because I get bored and distracted so easily.

It is amazing how I’ve always known that I would be a teacher, yet I never would have imagined that I would leave the K-12 school system. Now, I’m excited to use those same skills that I have learned in the classroom to help other professionals to create curriculum, write and edit formal documents, open their own businesses, and accomplish their dreams… be a consultant of sorts.

Right now, I have a few different paths.  I’m going to step forward in them all until they begin to fail or become something different.  I am simultaneously finishing this school year teaching, writing a grant for a non-profit, helping this physical therapist with curriculum, and finishing my paperwork to get my Masters in Teaching Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).  I have applied for a few full-time jobs at the university that I am attending: a Project Assistant and a Library Tech job.  Either one would be a good position for me because this is just a means to an end.  If I work full-time there for a year, I can get my Doctorate program paid for.  Plus, I can learn so much in any job that I have and use it to accomplish my mission to create and build a service-type business that I was made for.  LET’S DO THIS!!


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How Much?


How much am I willing to give AND to give up to get what I want and am feeling called to?  


Most people are okay with ONLY being comfortable.  They want a comfortable job, with a comfortable family… a comfortable paycheck with a comfortable retirement.

Oh, the idea of being rich is wonderful to everyone but is not worth the discomfort involved for most.  The idea for more is too scary.  We want to do the same things that we do every day and hope that fortune comes to us in a miraculous way.  We want to hit the lotto the 1 or hundreds of times that we play.  We want our blogs or YouTube channels to build followers and magically turn into money makers.  We are willing to do the same things every day and hope that someone notices us.  Sometimes though, we are willing to put in a few uncomfortable steps into the process.  We pay money for an at-home business that we will put some time and effort into until it takes too much out of our lives or hasn’t become as easy a money maker as it claimed.    We pay for our blogs or YouTube channels in order to build our market, consistently create for a while until the followers diminish, or we don’t have as many clicks as we once had and lose motivation.

Every once in a while I ask a new class, “Who do you think is the most successful celebrity?”  Many of them say the newest rap or hip hop star that I’ve never heard of so I wouldn’t even begin to try to quote them.  Then I offer up one and pause, “Rob Dyrdek.” They sit, shocked a while, before I explain.

Rob Dyrdek may not be the richest celebrity.  He looks and acts like a total goofball on TV, but he has used his resources to do many things he loves and is one of the hardest workers out there.  The first thing he did was become a professional skater, and how did he do that?  He worked harder and longer than everyone to become good and the best at what he loved to do.  He started at a young age and determined that he would practice so that he would become the best.  It wasn’t an accident.  He didn’t rely only on his talent.  He didn’t wait around for someone to notice him.  He sought recognition and received it because he PROVED that he was good enough over and over again.  

The next thing he did was use his money and success to move forward.  He didn’t decide that he would be immortal (like Tony Hawk) and skate or compete forever. *pause for a laugh* He didn’t stop what he loved, but he used what he loved to do more.  Most athletes and competitors get sponsors and do ads, but most athletes and competitors don’t get their own TV show and especially not multiple shows like Rob has.  It is obvious that he has dipped his hands into multiple pieces of the entertainment world and followed through with the doors that opened.  Things aren’t easy for anyone.  It may seem to the viewers that everything fell into place perfectly because that is what we see on screen.  But we don’t see the long hours of planning, preparing, and reacting to constant challenges behind those scenes.  

**I would love to interview him one day and find out the truth behind his success-the struggles and the hard work involved.


I find myself at the end of the day EVERY DAY wondering what I did.  I woke up with all these plans to read this, write that, do this, and finally complete that which has been on my to-do list for months.  But I realize each day that I did a mere percent of what I could have done.  Writing this blog once a week is a challenge, but I do feel good when I get it done and know that I can do more.  Yes, that is a success but I want to succeed at doing more of what I want to do that will produce something, and less of the things I do that are time-wasters.

  • Am I willing to read when I want to take a nap?
  • Am I willing to write when the thought pops into my head rather than telling myself “I will later”?
  • Am I willing to finish what I have started rather than feeling overwhelmed by how much I have left to do?
  • Am I willing to stop making excuses to be as successful as I know I can be?
  • Am I willing to give up the mundane to have the opportunity to be a success?
  • Am I willing to change my idea of success from comfortable to extreme risk taker?
  • Am I willing to stop being afraid of what I may fail at and have courage to face my fears so that I can be who I know I am called to be?


I am a believer, so I know that God has a purpose for my life.  He is guiding me and is leading me out of my comfort zone.  I am a single mom, so I’m pretty certain that I am not called to be a missionary (at least any time soon, not that it can’t happen to other single moms).  I know that God has given me the task to raise up my children in the way that they will go.  I also know that He has provided for me more than I could ever imagine or expect.  But lately, I feel an urge from Him to do more, to BE more.  In the past few months things have happened that point directly to something bigger than I could imagine.  I’ve mentioned it in a few other posts, but the stage is being set before me… and it SCARES the crap out of me.  I want mundane sometimes.  I want comfortable, and what He is calling me to do isn’t mundane or comfortable.  It isn’t me getting remarried and having a comfortable life where I depend on my husband for emotional and financial support (which is an awesome gig if you have that).  God is calling me further into letting HIM be my emotional and financial support while I walk into a life that will further my education and my perceived abilities.

I’ve asked Him if He wants me in ministry and I hear a pretty clear no, not in the classic way anyways.  The need which I see needs to be filled is that  the conservative base needs to have a stronger presence in academia, not to necessarily take over, but to rebuild the balance that has been lost.

The nation has become so divided that credibility is lost from both the liberal and conservative sides when we interact or are educated by the other side. We must regain the respect from the ground up.  For the popular culture, people who are educated in Christian colleges or schools like it are just doing what they are taught and haven’t experienced the “real world.”  For Christians who go to mainstream universities, we are so inundated and ostracized that it is almost impossible to get out alive, so to speak.  Simply speaking, my goal is to get through the graduate system “alive” and come out with credibility to create a positive change in the K-12 educational system.

So how much am I going to give up?

  • Am I going to give up thinking too far into the future unknown since it scares me from doing what I need to do presently?
  • Am I going to give up time-wasting activities to use my time wisely so that I don’t feel like I’ve wasted “yet another day”?
  • Am I going to give up making excuses or thinking I can’t because it’s too much?
  • Am I going to give up my negative self-talk and trust that I have way more capability than I see in myself?


  • What do you need to give up to spend more time building your future success?
  • What do you need to start doing daily and hourly NOW that you would love to be an expert at in 5-20 years?
  • What would you change in the world if you could? What can you do about it?
  • What credibility do you need to be perceived as an expert in what you want?  How can you achieve that credibility?



I have decided that if I am going to move up in the field of education to eventually be a leader in this school choice movement, then I need to address the issues as a business with a education focus.  These are the problems with public education that I would like to be addressed once I enter this level of leadership:

  1. If school choice is going to be pushed through the nation, including California, then I want people who are educated or have experience as teachers building this movement, not business people.  School choice is a chance for schools to fix what is broken and will NEVER be fixed through public education.  Allowing parents to choose schools WILL force even public schools to rethink their strategies and become better at what they do.  My current school district has seen a drop in enrollment for about 10 years in a row because when parents see consistent problems, they choose other options.  And, yes, common core has a great negative influence on many parents.  My school district has actually made improvements to be more competitive in the past few years.  A few years ago we were forced into program improvement and only then have we begun a movement into using scientifically proven educational strategies.  Many people would agree that we were stuck in the dark ages and were forced into this change.  Many teachers who love their craft and constantly move towards self-improvement have made school better for their students.  Others, though, have stayed the same because, you know, tenure.  Tenure allows crappy teachers to stay crappy teachers because after they are tenured, it’s their choice.  After they begin their first day of their third year, they can stay in the stone age if they so desire and who reaps the consequences?  Everyone but the tenured teacher who can’t be fired… Awesome!!
  2. Rigor in public schools is rarely found outside of advanced classes.  I’m referring to rigor as most of us remember it, rigor that required memorization and application. Rigor that allowed us to begin our freshman year of college somewhat prepared for college level work.  I mean somewhat because all of us had some sort of difficulty adjusting, but not to the level that we are seeing in college freshmen today.  Students get so much CHOICE in the classroom, that they think they can pick and choose what they do and don’t based off whether they enjoy the activity (or the teacher) or not.  We teachers hold their hands and if they choose not to succeed it, we are to blame.  Teachers are expected to create a PERFECT environment for the students to have rigorous texts, but not too rigorous that they give up.  We are expected to make them think but not too much.  We are expected to have great classroom management skills but we must insure that the students like us, because we all know that we only learn from people we like… hum…  Well, in the world of education today, if everything isn’t perfect for each student, then it’s the teacher’s responsibility to change, not the student.  No wonder we are creating a bunch of snowflakes that can’t handle the world.  I have an enormous amount of students with health problems including physical problems like thyroid issues and many psychological problems like anxiety and depression.   The least amount of sternness or blatantly clear expectations from me brings on anxiety attacks, meltdowns, and students thinking they can cuss me out and leave because of their stress level or that I “disrespected them.”  Students have not been taught respect for elders because they get so much choice.  Damn, if I could choose, I would have chosen for Marine Corps boot camp to be more like girl scout camp.  I would have chosen for all my professors in college to let me have 3 times as long to read the texts that were difficult or even take them out of the curriculum if it was too difficult or if I didn’t agree with it.  We are not doing the students any favors by dumbing down the curriculum for them.  In fact, that brings me to my next point.
  3. Alternative schools are not helping to improve students chance to succeed, they seem to be in place just to give the schools another way to make money off the students.  Each student equals money for schools.  Most of these types of schools are half-day programs (8-12 or 12-4, or some variation).  The days are cut in half and the expectations within each class period are cut in half, resulting in students getting a quarter of the content as a regular school.  I know from experience that even getting a quarter of the education into a classroom full of gang members, literal juvenile delinquents, and students whose parents can’t control them or don’t care is better than nothing.  But this is an injustice to those students who do graduate.  As much as students who graduate from regular high schools aren’t prepared for adulthood and college level expectations, students that graduate from alternative schools are ill-equipped for any jobs with opportunity for growth and they are definitely not prepared for any trade school or college.  Even the few students that have the hope for college realize very quickly how little resources they have personally and communally to succeed.  This is an act of appeasement.  We are appeasing to the students lack of motivation, desire, and perceived abilities.  We are not giving them a fair chance to succeed by sliding them through because we have lowered the standards.  These students with anxiety and depression issues, the students who lack motivation to even work hard in school will become adults with the same problems.

I guess this is just the beginning of my rant.  Next time I will provide some solutions.


  • How wrong would it be to put aside the book work education and provide students who don’t buy into the system with a trade that is useful and needed in society?
  • Since these programs are already available and seeing success, how difficult would it be to implement into an already running district of alternative education schools?
  • Have you ever heard of any schools that are doing this and are successful?
  • Is tenuring teachers after the beginning of their third year fair to students?  Especially the students who get the teachers who immediately begin to act like 30 year teachers.
  • There are many seemingly successful alternative schools that focus on school culture, student choice, and student interest; however, are these schools actually preparing students to be contributing members or society, preparing them for the work world, and/or preparing them for trade school or college?

Interested in reading more about tenure?  Here are a few articles:

Interested in reading more about alternative schooling:

Not Okay with the Mundane

I don’t think that I’m alone when I say that my passions and desires scare me sometimes.

Sometimes I want to be vaguely successful, able to have a good enough career to take care of my family, and simply ignore the want for more.  I’ve gotten to the point in my life though where I can’t read even one paragraph of any text without having to stop to write down a million ideas that it gives me about the topic or completely irrelevant.   That’s when I know that I can’t ignore it anymore.  Having all these ideas and hopes and dreams is exhausting and scary sometimes.  I want to be able to read a novel without thinking about how I would teach it.  I want to be able to read a motivational text without having to respond to it in writing.  But I can’t anymore.

Getting a further education, a masters, and possibly a PhD scares me.  I know people who have gotten these things and they haven’t gotten much more than a regular paying job and debt.  What if I go on for my PhD and am mediocre in the field?  What if I can’t keep up with the expectations of being a professional in my field? What if I have to uproot my family to a far off place just for a job?  What if I become one of those people who are over-skilled and can’t find anything? Most of these questions seem so far-fetched, but I can’t stop thinking about it.  There are too many unknowns. I don’t want all this drive and passion because I feel that there is going to be too much responsibility attached.

I do know that I won’t be happy as a classroom teacher for the rest of my career.  I do know that I’ve changed what I’m passionate about at least 3 times this year.  First I started taking online classes for an ELD Literacy Certificate, then I decided that I wanted to be a grant writer for schools, and then I wanted to get my MA in Curriculum Development.  Now I’m thinking, Why stop there?  I should get my MA in Educational Leadership because then I have a HUGE range of options.  But then, I think about going on the principal track and I think, There’s no way I could do that!!

Well, I couldn’t be a principal in a public school.  I have way too little tact for that.  I don’t like dealing with lazy, self-serving parents.  I can’t even imagine it.  But I could help lead the charge for school choice in San Diego.  The natural grocery store owner friend said I should open up my own school.  Uhhh, that sounds crazy… BUT AWESOME!!  I know for a fact that there are grants available to open up charter schools and Montessori schools.  I don’t know how to write grants officially yet, but I will soon.


I get inspired to write by anything I read.  The other day I read a blog post from Jeanette Hanscome.  She said, “All of this reminds me that when we are willing to step out in bravery and faith, God has the opportunity to do all kinds of cool and unexpected things! It is especially exciting when our expectations start out small and He surpasses them almost immediately.”

I would have never expected to be jobless again.  I would have never planned to become as passionate a writer as I have become.  I would have never expected to be going back to school to get my MA and possibly further. I would have never thought to ask God to put the specific people he has put in my life very recently.  I do know that He’s putting something on my heart to do.  I do know that He has placed very unique and effective educators, grant writers, university educational librarians, and community college teachers in my life very recently.  I haven’t been able to piece it all together yet but it doesn’t seem like it has happened by coincidence.


I know that I’m ready to move when He is, but I have some questions for Him.

  • I know that You want me to step out in faith, but could You please make the path a tiny bit more clear?
  • Am I supposed to stay where I am or move?  Is my future in this town or elsewhere?
  • If You do want me to go on this path, could You provide some at-home job that supplements some income?



The Truth from a Teacher

This isn’t going to be popular among teachers, but all of us have been here.  

I’m not going to sugarcoat this: teacher unions suck.  The tenure sucks, and as soon as teachers get tenure, many teachers suck too.  Sure, every teacher wants to become tenured because as soon as they are, they can confidently say, “I can do whatever I want.”  Because of this, 3 year teachers are sometimes just as bad as 30 year teachers.  It’s so sad that young teachers with passion to learn and teach walk into any school be told by any staff member which teachers “should have retired years ago.”  These teachers sometimes even admit that they don’t want to teach but only stay because of the consistent income and job security.  

The good thing about the massive, powerful teachers unions is this and only this: California teachers’ salaries are one of the best in the nation.  In my first few years of teaching I get paid almost double that of my South Carolina counterparts.  It’s truly sad how underpaid teachers are around the country. However, overall California teachers have nothing to complain about (I said overall, there are exceptions).  Now many teachers would take this opportunity to complain about how large their workload is, how large their classes are, and how underfunded their schools are to supply their students with education that is intended to change the direction our country is going, but I’m not going to address that right now.  California teachers get paid pretty well, especially when comparing them to most of the rest of the country.  

The only reason we get paid well is because of the unions.  And other than that, what do unions do exactly?  Just exactly what you think they do. They sit around and complain one hour per month about petty intricacies in the contract, about conservative politicians, and about how often their principal walks into their classroom.  People with normal jobs couldn’t complain about how often their bosses check up on them.   Bosses are supposed to ensure that their employees are following protocol and are good employees that they want to keep.  But teachers say that they are being harassed and abused.    

Teachers might say something along the lines of, “Hey Lady, just because you are not tenured, then maybe you are the problem. You are just complaining that we are complaining, Hypocrite.”  Yes, I’ve been passed up for tenure.  Yes, I am not the best teacher on campus. Yes, I am complaining about the system that I have chosen to be a part of.  But no, I am not being compared on a level playing field.  School administration realizes that if they hire me (or any other teacher), they will never be able to get rid of me.  They realize that there is a current threat that they will lose funding and if they do they will have more teachers than they can pay.  They realize that a school-choice rule will follow with a mass exodus of students leaving public schools and, as a result, have more teachers that can’t be fired with too few students to teach.  I am being rotated in a two year cycle.  Many young teachers are being let go regardless of their abilities while schools are preparing for another round of possible funding cuts.   Many businesses do this if they have possible funding cuts but to be let go not because of my job performance but because they can’t get rid of the teachers who everyone knows shouldn’t be teaching is wrong.   Teachers, along with every other job in civilized society, should be continually learning and continually showing that they are teachable and valuable to the schools.  

I want to be evaluated on a level playing field.  If I’m not good enough to be a teacher in a district I want to know that it really is me, it really is my inability to teach, that there truly are teachers with more experience and expertise that should be there and are kicking ass at teaching.  I want to be able to go to the teachers who do have 3-30 years of experience and know with confidence that I have something to learn from them.  And not be resentful that they are only there because they are tenured and can’t be fired.   


  • Do you know teachers who shouldn’t be teachers or “should have retired years ago?”  How should schools handle those teachers? Should they just tolerate them until they decide to retire or should there be a alternative in place?
  • What would you say to a young teacher like me and many others who feel this way?
  • Don’t get me wrong, I know the benefits that unions have had for teachers in the past, but are they still effective?  Also, does the power that teachers unions have in California ever bother you?  Why or why not?
  • Do you have your children in the public schools that you teach, why or why not?


I am currently creating a Freshman English Non-Fiction UBD on Cyberbullying, and I have some politically incorrect beliefs on it.

Now I first started this article topic last year.  It was a unit plan with 3 projects built in:

Project 1:  Students (in groups) taught the class how to do something fun.  Students created a lesson to teach their peers how to do something they already know how to do.  They worked in groups, created a lesson plan, a visual, learning intention and success criteria, and an assessment to find out if the students learned what they wanted them to learn.  Groups did things like: how to prepare for an emergency, how to do a kick flip, and how to make a paper airplane.

Project 2: Students (in groups) taught the class how to write an article.  Students read an article to find out the structure and style of each part of the article: intro, body paragraphs, conclusion, etc.  Each group taught the class how to write their section. They replicated the style of the lesson plan by creating a lesson plan, a visual, learning intention and success criteria, and an assessment to find out if the students learned what the group wanted them to learn.

Project 3:  Students (in groups) wrote an article about cyberbullying. The students used what their classmates taught them to research and write an article each from a person effected by cyberbullying: perpetrators, victim, parent(s) of victim, parent of perpetrators, teacher, politicians, etc.  In each project 3 group, there was one student in each group who taught Intro, Body, and Conclusion during project 2.

When I did this, I taught in a continuation school and although they were pretty motivated through the first 2 projects, they lost a lot of momentum during the last one.  So I’m going to change it up.

This time, we are going to read 1 article together about cyberbullying. We will discuss text structure, content, and how to write good research questions. Then, each student will have a role to research (same as above).

The plan is for them to use the questions they create to research the topic in depth and each group create a skit to show what they have learned about it.  That’s where I’ve left off…


I always require a sense of truth in my plans.  I don’t want my students to mindlessly follow my directions without question.  I also don’t want to create a bunch of robots who think that everyone needs to do and follow whatever the culture believes.  That said, my students will tell you, many of their peer group can’t handle any emotional stress.  They break at any sign of failure and get depressed with the least amount of criticism.  For example: I had an 18 year old girl student who skipped two days of school last week because her friends said she was “dramatic.”  Ummm, you think maybe they might be on to something?

That said, the easy way to do this would be to pretend like cyberbullying is a problem that can only be resolved by creating more empathy for the victims.  Yes, this is a good thing: making people aware of the problem is a good thing and should be done.  But where my skepticism lies is not to just stop at the victims being made aware but to encourage victims of the crime to not stop at their victim-hood but become overcomers.  I want to empower victims to be strong enough to defend themselves, get confidence that what other people say about them does not define them, and to move from victims to a person with resilience and can help to defend others.

Like many of us in the generations before social media, I have been ridiculed, teased, and tormented as a child.  But we grew strong, have overcome it, and have become defenders of the weak.  But by becoming defenders of the weak, have we taken the responsibility away from the kids who need to overcome their own battles?  By being their defenders, have we taken their future victory and therefore a possibility to create inner strength and confidence?

I am on the front lines seeing the victim-hood of the next generation.  Many of them are very aware of the perceived weaknesses but still use it to their advantage.  I want to help build a generation of students who know they are supported but also are expected to be responsible for their actions and their emotions.

I want students to know that what cyberbullies say about them does not define them.  Students should feel empowered enough to get away from negative things in their lives and if that means social media, then so be it.   This is the world we live in today but we need to allow kids to experience struggles (we all have them) but give them strategies to overcome and persevere.


  • Is it possible for kids to understand that this world where bully victims are sensationalized that one of the best ways to handle bullies is through inner-strength and perseverance?  How can I express this without seeming heartless?
  • How do I make sure that victims of bullying are justified for their anger and sadness but at the same time know that they are growing their character and inner-strength by learning how to deal with it efficiently?

I’d love to hear your input.

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