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Helena, Montana / Nov 7, 2020: Pro Trump supporters at Stop the Steal rally holding signs against the media declaring Joe Biden President elect due to voter fraud and vote count being incomplete (photo purchased from BigStock.com).

I oppose lending credence to vicious falsehoods embraced by our President. My stance is not a matter of politics; it’s a matter of honesty and decency.

As a high school humanities teacher, my blood boiled when on Thursday, Nov. 5, President Donald J. Trump claimed widespread voter fraud in a primetime address from the White House grounds.

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” he said. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us. If you count the votes that came in late — we’re looking at them very strongly. But a lot of votes came in late.”

Not only are those claims entirely unfounded and baseless, but those words, coming directly from the mouth of the leader of the free world, also have no precedence in American history. I’m anxious for the rest of the night, thinking what to say to my juniors and seniors in the morning. I’m also aware that my lesson will be recorded on Zoom, as several of my students are learning from home. …


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FRAGILITY: More students today are upset with anything lower than perfection. Photo illustration purchased from Bigstock.com.

Help stressed out, anxious, teenagers with social and emotional learning.

At the end of the fall semester, a distraught junior met with me about her grade in American History.

“This isn’t fair with all of my studying and hard work,” she said. “My parents will be angry and demand that I need to do better, that an A- is not good enough for college. You can’t give me anything less than an A.”

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EPIPHANY: David Cutler rethought how to foster resilience from reading this book. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Haidt.

I’m confident in assuming that especially over the past few years, with increased stress and anxiety amongst students, teachers have noticed an uptick in this type of scenario. After doing my best to listen, I usually provide a prescribed response, which explains that unfortunately, hard work does not always yield one’s desired outcome. Moreover, students grunt when I inform them that grades are earned, not given. …


Administrators offer bogus excuses for not having vibrant student newspapers—even as school mission statements trumpet the importance of student voice. It’s time to take decisive action. Here’s how.

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Photo illustration purchased from BigStock.com.

From the fourth grade on, and now as a high school teacher at my alma mater, I’ve been privileged to belong to the independent school community. Not only have I experienced firsthand what makes our small but vibrant community special, but I’ve also connected with colleagues and peer institutions to hone my craft — as well as learn more about the values our schools share. Across the board, I’ve found that independent schools pride themselves on offering one-on-one attention, smaller class sizes, and a caring and nurturing environment for students to reach their potential.

Many independent schools also share similar mission statements, which emphasize critical thinking, communication, and creativity. Moreover, the word “leadership” comes up often while scrolling through private school admissions materials — and while I believe that our collective school community upholds many of its core values, as a whole we are deficient at offering and teaching journalism, including newspaper production, essential for fostering those four core values. …


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Photo purchased from Bigstock.com.

Educators must speak out against the President’s recent tweet about Elizabeth Warren’s presidential bid announcement. There is no gray area with such racist, ignorant, abhorrent language.

As a high school history teacher, I had always felt strongly about remaining opaque politically.

For the following reasons, I justified my stance to my students.

1. Indoctrination. I believe that much of the nation automatically identifies teachers as liberals. While there might be some truth to this stereotype, as with all stereotypes, there are exceptions. Moreover, a teacher who may hold liberal sentiments is not necessarily out to recruit new party members. That is ludicrous thinking, but to avoid the headache of defending against accusations, I have refrained from sharing my personal views.

2. Perceived bias. Each year, I’m aware that many new students assume I lean left, an impression for which they have no evidence, other than that I am a teacher in Massachusetts, a liberal state. Still, I am unwilling to provide ammunition for those of any political affiliation, who, unhappy with how I assess academic work, might point to my political views rather than a student’s struggles as the reason for a lower-than-expected grade. …


“I see a direct connection between what I learned in journalism and what I’m doing now,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham.

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Photo illustration purchased from BigStock.com.

However much I struggled, only when I found my passion for news reporting did my success in the humanities begin to soar — so much so, in fact, that I now teach journalism to my own history students, hopeful that they too will benefit from the combination.

I think it’s safe to say that this has resulted in a good degree of success.

Take it from Preston Michelson, who recently graduated from Northwestern University with degrees in journalism and political science. He served as founding editor of The Falconer, the student news site of Palmer Trinity School (Palmetto Bay, Florida), where I spent the first six years of my teaching career. …


If teachers must give high-stakes assessments, allow for full-credit retakes.

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Photo purchased from BigStock.Com.

Once during an exam on the Civil War, one of my 11th graders burst into tears, fearful of what a low grade on the test might do to her future. “I’ll never get into college now,” she told me, as I tried to console her. “I might as well give up now. What’s the point?”

Another time, when presented with irrefutable proof of her having lifted portions of her research paper, an otherwise strong student started crying hysterically: “I know it was really, really wrong, but this anxiety I feel to be perfect, it’s overriding my normal behavior and better judgment.” …


Opening one’s ears is never as dangerous as closing them.

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As an educator and a new parent of a son, I intend to do my best to raise him into a caring, responsible individual. In this endeavor, my wife and I are aware of the current political climate, especially the growth of the #MeToo movement, and what that means for treating women, and everyone else, for that matter, with respect, equality, and thoughtfulness.

Unfortunately, those three crucial traits are sorely lacking in American culture today, and our elected representatives, who should strive to embody all things decent, seem to prefer partisan squabbling, name-calling, and behavior so poor that calling it “juvenile” would be overly generous — giving too little credit to children, who know better than many adults in Washington. …


Providing a platform for fools to speak, even in our venomous political climate, is essential to revealing their foolishness.

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Image purchased from BigStock.com.
Listen to my recent conversation with Jonathan Haidt, co-author of “The Coddling of the American Mind.”

As a kid, I loved watching NBC’s Seinfeld–in fact, I still do. But no episode made me laugh more than the 116th, “The Soup Nazi,” which aired in 1995 during the show’s seventh season, when I was in middle school.

In one scene, George (played by Jason Alexander) is trying his best to follow a bizarre, authoritarian ordering system at a popular new soup kitchen, run by someone with a thick accent who appears to be an immigrant. When George doesn’t receive complimentary bread, he politely asks for some. This ignites the wrath of the titular Soup Nazi, who, after George demurs at an extra charge for his request, snaps his fingers. …


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Photo courtesy of David and Elana Cutler.

How marriage brought together the two sectors.

David Cutler and Elana Rome are both teachers. Cutler is finishing his ninth year teaching high school history and journalism at his alma mater, Brimmer and May School in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Rome is completing her fourth year teaching sixth-grade math at Brown Middle School in the Newton Public Schools in Massachusetts. She previously taught in Cambridge and Framingham, Massachusetts. The couple share how their personal partnership has advanced their professional growth.

David and Elana: As a newly engaged couple, we give new meaning to the term private-public partnership. For all that distinguishes our work environments, at the end of the day, we return home to support and listen to each other through our challenges and triumphs. We want our students to experience joyful learning. We want to improve our craft. We want to make a difference. We recognize that we share a unique relationship, but we believe teachers in all different kinds of schools can learn from the ways we communicate. …


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Photo purchased from Bigstock.com.

Kids need to understand that this isn’t normal or acceptable behavior. Your silence, however well-intentioned, sends the opposite message.

Editors’ note: In light of President Donald Trump’s recent tweet (below), this story has been updated.

As a high school history teacher, I had always felt strongly about remaining opaque politically.

For the following reasons, I justified my stance to my students.

1. Indoctrination. I believe that much of the nation automatically identifies teachers as liberals. While there might be some truth to this stereotype, as with all stereotypes, there are exceptions. Moreover, a teacher who may hold liberal sentiments is not necessarily out to recruit new party members. …

About

David Cutler

A high school history and journalism teacher from Massachusetts.

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