Something good, something bad? Bit of both?

Made this for a classroom demo myself.

Internet, I made this for you.

Internet, I made this for you.

I spent much of today teaching trying to teach touch typing.

It’s cool, because we start programming next week. Which reminds me, I need to buy enough jelly and white bread to for a demonstration to 5 classes.1



PB&J turns out to be an excellent introduction to computer programming, but peanut butter is a huge classroom liability, so it’s jelly and white bread sandwiches for the future coders of the South Bronx. ↩

I spent much of today teaching trying to teach touch typing.

It’s cool, because we start programming next week. Which reminds me, I need to buy enough jelly and white bread to for a demonstration to 5 classes.1


  1. PB&J turns out to be an excellent introduction to computer programming, but peanut butter is a huge classroom liability, so it’s jelly and white bread sandwiches for the future coders of the South Bronx. 

“We didn’t know when the last time was that somebody introduced a new course into high school,” Gates told me. “How does one go about it? What did the guy who liked biology — who did he call and say, ‘Hey, we should have biology in high school?’ It was pretty uncharted territory. But it was pretty cool.”

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, if you “didn’t know when the last time was that somebody introduced a new course into high school,” you should do some more research1 before you institute sweeping educational reforms.

Bill, it’s not uncharted territory. As someone who’s said, “Hey, we should have _______ in high school” and helped make it happen, I’d be happy to show you some charted territory.


  1. Maybe he was using Encarta for research… 

Made this for my classroom.

The original 1965 quote read “Man is the lowest-cost, 150-pound, nonlinear, all-purpose computer system which can be mass-produced by unskilled labor,” but 13 years later, that became inaccurate.

Saw this on the train today.

Sawkill + SoHo

Experimenting with double exposure.

“The term ‘teaching’ came to mean something totally different to me,” a teacher named Hideto Hirayama told me through a translator. It was more sophisticated, more challenging — and more rewarding. “The moment that a child changes, the moment that he understands something, is amazing, and this transition happens right before your eyes,” he said. “It seems like my heart stops every day.”
teachorg:

Land your dream job.
Teach. 

The biggest problems in teaching, in one incredibly un-self-aware gif.

teachorg:

Land your dream job.

Teach. 

The biggest problems in teaching, in one incredibly un-self-aware gif.

More .gif-ted education

I made this to illustrate the difference between content and style, for tomorrow’s lesson introducing CSS.

More .gif-ted education

I made this to illustrate the difference between content and style, for tomorrow’s lesson introducing CSS.

This picture (and, of course, the Odyssey Scholarships) encapsulate everything that is noble, worthy, and wonderful about my alma mater.

You don’t have to apologize for your privilege…

Below is the email I sent to Tal Fortgang, after reading his piece "Why I’ll Never Apologize for My White Male Privilege" on Time.com.


You don’t have to apologize for your privilege…

…but you should question and inquire as to its origins. I recommend you read this:

Other People’s Pathologies - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic

I am a white male, like you. Like you, I attended an elite institution (The University of Chicago. We don’t have Eating Clubs, but we’re certainly “privileged”).

I am a little bit older, though not much, than you. Nonetheless, I feel that I can offer you some advice.

I recommend that you read everything you can get your hands on.

I recommend that you keep writing. Keep reading. Be less certain. Be more inquisitive. You are awfully young to “never apologize” for anything.

I am very glad you go to such a good school, because you will have the opportunity to learn that for plenty of people who don’t look like you and me, this is not a country that has “equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character.” This is a country founded on white supremacy, and still grappling with both a historical legacy of racism and its crushing, everyday ramifications.

If you can’t find a way to learn all that at Princeton, I extend an open and sincere invitation to come to the South Bronx, where I teach, and maybe we can learn something from each other.

Good luck to you.

Career Day

I recently participated in a Career Day at my high school. Since I have only just begun my career, I thought, rather than explain my trajectory (forward) and accomplishments (few), I would offer three pieces of advice that I wish I had heard when I was a teenager.

  1. Do hard things
  2. Question your gifts
  3. Don’t measure yourself with other people’s rulers.

Do Hard Things

If you want to fight for social justice, you should know what injustice looks like. You should know what hardship and failure look like. Elite institutions don’t prepare you for that.

Choose classes that challenge you. Participate in activities outside your comfort zone and outside your neighborhood. Fail at something.

Question Your Gifts

To get into this school, you had to be a relatively intelligent 6th grader. After that, you’re surrounded by smart people, taught by smart teachers, and most unfairly, simply assumed to be smart. Question that.

There’s a word that’s thrown around in a lot of social justice conversations- “privilege.” It’s rightly used to call people out on preconceived notions and wrongly used to silence questioning, uncertain, and tentative attempts at understanding.

So instead of telling people (like myself) to check their privilege, I like to say, “question your gifts.” Accusations of privileges make me defensive. Reminders of gifts make me grateful.

I was given a gift in my family. I was given a gift in the education and preparation for one test that determined my entire educational trajectory. I was given gifts and worked hard to attend the school that I wanted and to graduate with pride in both what I had accomplished and for the love and support that had been given to me, unconditionally.

It’s that unconditional part that I am most grateful and most proud of. No one told me I had to “give back” to be loved. No one told me I owed the South Bronx a few years of earnest educating, before I decamped to a real career. My family, my friends, my karate sparring partners- everybody who got me here- said “here’s everything I’ve got. The best I can offer, for you to cherish and grapple with. Go do something worthwhile.”

There were no conditions, except the ones I set for myself. What was the most worthwhile thing I could do with my time? Teach. Done.

Don’t Measure Yourself With Other People’s Rulers.

Measure yourself by how excited you are to get up in the morning. Measure yourself by how excited you are to talk about what you do. Measure yourself by the most important criteria- are you proud of what you are called, or are you proud of what you do?

I don’t have an impressive-sounding job, or title, or office. I don’t have business cards. I don’t care. I have aspirations and a competitive streak and my workplace has plenty of competition and rivalry and petty politics. I’m beginning to think that is unavoidable in any group larger than one.

But I am so proud of what I do. I am so often so happy to do it. That’s more than a gift, that’s more than a privilege. That is a calling. It is not some unsustainable, post-collegiate burst of missionary zeal, but a certainty of purpose that through all the shoals of early-twenties New York life and post-collegiate malaise, the breakups and the let-downs, I have stayed my course, my own sincere way.

Sometimes I find wonderful educational resources on the internet.

Sometimes, I find this.1

Just a friendly PSA that, at some point in time, the U.S. Government commissioned some excellent clipart.

Brought to you from the bowels of the education section of the IRS website.


  1. Jon Stillman’s eyes follow you. 

SE

I am a part of the Software Engineering Pilot, a Department of Education program designed to “address the shortage of high school graduates ready to enter new and emerging interdisciplinary high-tech fields.”

I was recently interviewed for a teacher newsletter, and decided to post a few of my answers.

Software Engineering & Special Education

I teach an 11-person, self-contained special education class.

These are students who struggle with the conventional and mandated subjects.

These are also students who fly, who can’t wait to get their hands on robots, who will sit with an Arduino and a patience that they never knew they had, who accidentally discover that an autistic student can be a great teammate if he or she is writing the script for a comic book about electricity. A student who can’t read is a Scratch master, able to bring life to his classmates words and stories by his mastery of the interface, knowing each block by sight and slowly learning to communicate them to his classmates by doing something that is so hard, and so often hated: reading out loud to others.

I have students who will score higher and I have students who can code faster, but when I got to take 25 of my best female students to Google, four students from that self-contained class came with me. I dare any engineer at Google — anyone who listened to their questions, who watched them see a world they had never seen — I dare them to pick out the four “special ed” girls. Many days, the content challenges my students, but on the best days, it challenges me: to be the best teacher, to find a way for all of my students who succeed, and to see their own potential in ways they cannot in any other class.