Thursday, June 27, 2013


This summer is off to a great start! Turns out the key to getting a lot done is staying off the freaking computer. Yesterday I read You Can't Say You Can't Play, by Chicago Lab School teacher Vivian Paley. It's a pretty good (and fast) read. Basically it explores how kids exclude certain kids from play, and it's usually the same kids, and she creates a rule saying you can't say no. She also notices that kids very quickly create "bosses" for themselves, (either one kid makes him/herself the boss, or the other kids appoint someone the boss), and this boss is "in charge" of the excluding. Her rule (the title of the book) was effective in getting kids to include everyone in play but I found myself still wondering about the "boss" concept. Is this wired into our DNA somehow? One of the kids she talked to about this suggested it was a way of absolving the group of responsibility for decisions: if the "boss" said someone couldn't play, then it was only one kid not liking you, not all the kids. So interesting. Maybe I should do my own action research on this concept.

Once I finished the book (it's a quick read), I embarked on a deep-clean of the kitchen, which I am continuing today. After that I'll be starting on some web design I'm going to be working on this summer with Sean. Hopefully there will also be time somewhere for building a dining room table. I bought some old-growth 2x8s at Rebuilding Exchange, and I want to hire the guy who did some welding for our kitchen to build a base that looks something like this. I think the reclaimed wood and the dark steel base would look pretty cool. And then at some point, Sean and I want to take off to go to Estes Park for a couple weeks: busy busy!

Happy summer everyone!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


One of the biggest challenges for me this year was the (extremely!) high mobility rate at my school. A couple people asked me for specific numbers and at the time I hadn't sat down and counted. Having just finished assembling our third grade yearbook, I had the chance to actually see how many students have come and gone from my class. Here's what a 39.5% mobility rate looks like:

Roster prior to the start of school: 30
First day attendance: 24 from roster
4 students transferred in within the first two weeks of school.
2 students left by the end of September.
1 more left in October.
2 students arrived in December.
3 students arrived in January.
1 student ARRIVED AND LEFT in April.
1 student LEFT THEN REENROLLED in April.
1 additional student left in April.
1 student left in May.
2 students left in June.

4 students neither started nor ended the year with us. In general, the students who transferred in mid-year had much poorer attendance than the rest of the class. They were sometimes absent whole weeks, or even multiple weeks at a time.

Total number of students transferring in (after the first two weeks of school, and not counting the same student transferring in twice): 6
Total number of students transferring out: 10

Next year I'm at a charter school. While I feel strongly about public education, as a teacher, I have to say I am looking forward to some stability in my classroom again. (My first year at Hope I had just one student transfer out: no other mobility).

Update: according to this page regarding how to calculate mobility rate, the actual mobility rate in my classroom was 47% (higher if you count the 4 students transferring in the first two weeks, which I haven't.)