A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned

Granted, and...

The following account comes from a veteran HS teacher who just became a Coach in her building. Because her experience is so vivid and sobering I have kept her identity anonymous. But nothing she describes is any different than my own experience in sitting in HS classes for long periods of time. And this report of course accords fully with the results of our student surveys. 

I have made a terrible mistake.

I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!

This is the first year I am working in a school but not teaching…

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The Problem With Boys

written by Todd Beach

What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.[1]


In 1998, Harvard researcher and clinical psychologist William Pollack published the New York Times bestselling book, Real Boys, which revealed his research on what he called this generation’s “silent crisis” concerning the raising of boys in our society.  In his book, Pollack challenges our traditional ideas surrounding masculinity and male identity and how the traditional paradigm fails to address the needs of boys in our changing society.

I found the book to be incredibly interesting and I was especially intrigued by the chapter titled, ‘Schools, The Blackboard Jumble’ where Pollack argues that schools are failing boys as students at record levels and describes a new gender gap in education where boys are over represented in the bottom of their class and in a number of other categories such as dropout rates, special education services, and truancies.  With these findings I anticipated more studies by researchers to help identify how schools could better serve boys and specifically understand how teachers could better engage boys in the classroom, but sadly there are relatively few studies with this aim.

My interest in this topic has been constant in my teaching practice but it is especially peaked each September when I see enrollment numbers for my 9th grade Honors American Government & Citizenship course and my AP European History course.  Traditionally more girls than boys have registered for these challenging courses but this year the numbers are especially skewed with girls outnumbering boys more than 2 to 1.

What are the long term consequences of this continuing phenomenon?  When you consider the emergence of the new knowledge economy, the high number of boys who drop out of school and the outsourcing of semi-skilled labor to developing countries what does this mean for their future and what can schools and teachers do to help curb or reverse the trend? Continue reading