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Category Archives: The Ampersand School

The Occupants Are at it Again. 

The new FB page Occupy Democrats has gained some steam lately. When I hear Occupy I cringe. Squatting and complaining while giving your fellow man a guilt trip over an issue you feel entitled to impose your sense of resolve on, and asking Big Brother -the real culprit- to fix it, or fix them. 

It’s education at the moment. The above paragraph is no doubt a can of worms. Here is another.  

 

It’s not the first time they want to sink their poison fangs into the fatted calf. By “they” I mean statists. I can go on and on. I need to stick to the above bit of nausea. 

First. Free?  From what, some childcare well you dug on ancestral land? Free from some group of charitable monks who devoted their lives to poverty whilst….no. It’s a product of huge taxation. If your justifying huge tax rates, join Occupy Democrats. 

No Private schools? Ever? That’s good? You may own any other business you like, just don’t try to earn your own unregulated living as a teacher? At least it speaks more honestly to the real motivation behind the meme. Privatization =bad people. Privateers are empowered and that’s dangerous. 

Paid the same as doctors and lawyers? Why am I entitled to that? Why do doctors and lawyers have to make the same amount? As an educator I have not had the same investment in my education, nor do I take the same risk, and let’s face it, I cannot be held as monetarily liable as doctors and lawyers. It’s financial fear mongering and wealth bigotry. It sets up victimology and entitlement which a big tax monkey government loves! 

Most student don’t take standardized tests? Is that even a stat? Most? Is that as far as your credibility goes, most? Who did the research, a sophomore more interested in the new version of Clash of Clans and can’t be bothered doing the work? Scratch journalism. I’m not under the impression that facts are as important to Occupiers as emotions and slander, but c’mon. Most? Guess what? Kids in America can opt out too if they didn’t listen to this crap. They have choices they don’t need tax-addict government -worshipping wealth-bigot entitlement-peddlers who talk tough than line up like sheep and vote for the very oppressors the fein to fight to give them permission to excercize.  Yeah. Read that again. 

Now the America side. 

Private schools for the rich? Who voted against vouchers which would have allowed all these poor families to retain their overtaxed wealth and use it to go to private schools? The left! Are you telling me there are no such things as scholarships and privately funded sources to pay for school? Are you afraid the poor ( a word which more accurately describe your attitude and judgmentalism towards people who make money you don’t deem acceptable,) may become empowered and not need your addictive victimization bullshit? 

Teachers are paid as little as possible? Zero is as little as possible. No teacher makes zero. And do me a favor, stop insulting me because I don’t make as much money as you think I should. I’ll take care of my side of the street, thank you. Stop insulting me because I freely chose a profession. Patronize somebody else’s calling. Or maybe I should stand out in the middle the street with a sign in the middle of a work week and complain. And I guess you don’t really respect the unions you so fervently support. They create some pretty wealthy teachers in the states with the highest number of Democrats and teachers unions. At others expense. See above paragraph about “free.”  

The high-stakes standardized tests I will agree with. But again it’s the big bully fat cat largely Democrat backed education system that has created it. Stop pretending to be its Savior as well.
Out of breadth. 

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Wow. The Serpent and the Rainbow or Ignorance and Fear Rule the Day

In a instance of complete ignorance and reactionary thinking, the First Baptist Church of Longwood has asked The Ampersand School which rents rooms from them, to get rid of one of their pets.
The Ampersand School is proud to have as one of their teachers an award-winning young biologist. He has brought a few live animals into the school. One of those is a small python. That python is always in locked cage and can only be taken out when the biologist is present. This python has never lived in the wild. This python has only ever been handled by humans and hand fed. It doesn’t know how to hunt. Yes, instinctively knows how to bite strangle and swallow food. It just never has.
The landlord is requesting that this snake be removed from the property. Please don’t talk to me about property rights and ownership. It’s not about that. It’s about bullying kids to assuage the fears and anxieties of a few people who have only seen it once in the year and a half that it’s been in the building. In fact, they were actually closer to that snake in proximity last year and never even knew it existed, than they are this year and are making children of the middle school classes get rid of it.
The parents of these middle school kids pay to go to private school so that they can get the experience that they can’t or won’t get anywhere else. They also pay to make sure the kids aren’t bullied in the small classes, little did they know that it took a bunch of so-called Christians to take all that away.

The first person to say, “yeah, but what if…” loses. Come spend a day and see.

Tell them how much you agree:
First Baptist Longwood • 891 State Road 434 E • Longwood, FL 32750 • Phone: 407-339-3817 • Fax: 407-339-7870 • Email: churchstaff@fbclongwood.org

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in The Ampersand School

 

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Students Called “Bullshit!”

Something happened in class today. Something happened which hasn’t happened in a very long time. Something happened which I both encourage and fear. Something happened which I believe can only happen in a very few classrooms. Something happened that I am proud to say happened in my classroom. Today my students called bullshit on me.
I made a vow to myself that I would complete all of the assignments which I assigned. I wanted to make sure that I was also doing the projects that my students were doing. I did this a few years ago and it really worked out well for me. It also brought me closer to my students. I didn’t do it last year and the opposite happened. This year I’ve done most of the daily assignments but I’m committed to doing the big projects especially. The first product is entrepreneurship project. I have a couple of small businesses in the wings which I’ve been working on. So an entrepreneurship project ought to work well for me. Right?
Well in a gesture of slight cowardice, I decided not to work on any of the projects directly. That way I could continue to procrastinate and not risk actually showing my passions to the sunlight. I decided to work on one small aspect of one of my projects. When I presented to my students today, while asking them to also make practice presentations before exhibition tomorrow night,I asked them if that sounded like something good, or sounded like something that wasn’t sure what it was. One kid looked at me and said “the second one.” Another one said, “kind of both.”
Here I had been patting myself on the back for doing a project along with my students. They see it both as a challenge and as encouragement. Those aren’t necessarily opposites anyway. And while I was asking them for complete vulnerability I was being completely guarded. I wasn’t putting something I was truly passionate about on the table, while asking them to do just that. They called me out. I kind of knew that was going to happen.
So tonight, the night before it’s due, I’m going to have to start from scratch. The good thing is that in our process we get credit for process and progress as much as product. The other good thing is that since were using the Stanford University design school model, testing your product and then going back to starting at the Empathy mode, is perfectly fine, and encouraged. So not only am I not shaming myself, I’m modeling how failure is always an option especially in design and entrepreneurship. It’s days like this that I am extremely grateful for my students. I never want to be that asshole in front of the class who knows it all and can do no wrong. What a boring job that would be. I teach because it affords me the greatest opportunity to learn and satisfy my natural curiosities, and express my abilities. If I don’t listen to when I’m not doing something right, I throw all of that out. There is nothing common for standardized about the way I care to teach.

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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in The Ampersand School

 

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New School Year Day One 2014

New School Year Day One 2014

Today was the first day of school for the Ampersand School. This is my third year teaching here. Actually it’s only my second under this name. Two years ago we were known as Lawton Chiles Prepatory school.

We came to this year with a much longer sense of community. We spent a week planning. This wasn’t planning like most other schools, and believe me, The Ampersand School is not like most other schools. It may not be like any other school. We spent the first week of planning discussing our culture. We knew what we didn’t want to do. We knew what had been working when done well. We really wanted to flesh out what a way to make it simpler, not more complex.

We have designed a flowchart and brainstormed about a virtual tour. A lot of what was on our virtual tour – concrete stops we’d like to see as well as ethereal and theoretical showcases- we decided we could put into practice. When asked to create a virtual tour I decided to start at the dumpster. I wanted to use the dumpster as a metaphor to show what we had thrown out, and then it dawned on me that we don’t throw everything out from what is known as mainstream schooling, some of that we recycle. That idea went a long way.

A rough exclamation of the flowchart, I will try to post the actual flowchart in the future, it starts with a theme a broad based idea which the faculty suggests. From there the action starts. He goes a right into exploration. We start exploration by reading texts. Close reading of novels offers us the chance to not only read for completion and comprehension and vocabulary but also for a deep understanding of all the places the content can bring you. Whenever you hear of a setting or an idea or a freezing that makes you say, “what is that?” you have an opportunity for exploration. For example, if in reading Dracula you are engrossed in the story, but you keep hearing about old tribes and if they cities of old Eastern Europe that you’ve never heard of before, you explore that and that becomes what your Dracula unit is all about. Listen, if you want to do a book report, I suppose that’s good too.

But today was day one. I decided to go with culture. I let them know that this is a safe place to be vulnerable and take risks- even fail. What is more vulnerable than a teenager giving and receiving compliments? We didn’t force it. We made it fun. I read them a story about giving Warm Fuzzies and avoiding Plastic Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies. We constructed little cans covered in paper and other objects n which we could receive written compliments and other warm fuzzy gifts. It was purposefully silly and immature. It was intentionally designed to introduce community and culture of caring support. Teenagers see themselves most clearly in the reflections of others.

It was fun. How did you start your year? Essays about summer break? Neat. IMG_6108.JPG

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Posted by on August 18, 2014 in The Ampersand School, Uncategorized

 

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