Author Archives: alburnet

Vol.#59: Four Things I Wish Parents Knew About Grades Online


Teaching Speaks Volumes

old report card Schools have been communicating with parents about their child’s success in school since the days of the one-room school house. I remember getting “progress reports” or “interims” for the first time as a student in the late eighties. In an effort to update the parents and students with progress before the end of each quarter, we received written notes or computer printouts mid-quarter. These had all the assignments listed, where report cards simply had an average or letter grade.

However, in the information age, parents and students can now check on a computer or smart phone around the clock and see the status of grades in each class. This is a powerful and relatively new reality in education. Were I able to log on and see all my grades as a student, or were my parents able to, I know many things would have been different.

However, after a teaching…

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VOL.#57: Open Letter to Senator Tillman [GUEST POST]

Fantastic letter.

Teaching Speaks Volumes

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 7.39.47 PM Image Credit: flickr user theparadigmshifter

We have discussed the North Carolina General Assembly’s systematic dismantling of NC education from our unacceptable frozen salaries which rank us dead-last nationally over the last decade to the growing mass exodus of NC teachers. 

Are we being heard?

Senator Jerry Tillman [R] is the chair of the Educator Effectiveness and Compensation Task Force. They meet again tomorrow, Monday, April 14th to make their recommendations to the NCGA.

Please contact him and have your voice heard.

One of the great educators from my digital PLN, Pam Lilley, has done just that. She forwarded me her letter, and when asked agreed to let me share it here with you.
~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~
Senator Tillman,

I am a school library media specialist…

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Mommy Pole-Dances…for Her Health and Sanity

I’d always wanted to try swinging around one of those pole thingies – hair flying, Whitesnake blaring.  So when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped.  I, and two of my friends, headed over to the studio that one of my friends had been attending for the past year.  “It’ll be fun, I promise you,” she said.

And she was right.

“Sexy Camp” class numero uno was fun – we did a cute routine incorporating the wall and some basic-basic pole moves.  I worked up a sweat, didn’t realize that I’d been exercising for an hour, and felt like I’d been beaten by, well, a thick, metal pole, for two days afterwards.  I took that as a sign that I was working my muscles.

Today, I went back for more.

Why?  Well…because it was super fun and super challenging.  (Unlike Zumba.  I love doing Zumba, but there’s no challenge…)

The  basic pole class allowed me to practice several new moves – over, and over, and over again.  I felt ridiculous.  I felt silly.  I was sure that the instructor would look over at me and tell me to go home now – pack up your stillettos, you’re outta here, baby!  But she didn’t.  She said that my body would get used to moving in such different ways.  And that once I’d quit depending on the pole to hold my body up (read: actually USE my arm and leg muscles?!) I would probably have less friction burns.

Victory was mine, though, when I finally managed to hold my self up on the pole and pick both my feet up off the ground at the same time to do a hanging leg raise.  Sure, it took me about half an hour – and sure, I was the only one still working on that long after everyone else had moved on to fireman spins.  But still…victory.

And so it begins…

I’m not really ready to explain the concept of race to my child.  I’m sure that she’s heard other people talking about “White” and “Black” – especially having an extended family that is multi-racial, race is talked about openly, fluidly, and without abashment or shame.  However, I’m still not ready to really sit down and explain to her all the ramifications of race.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that other people aren’t, as evidenced by the man who, on Father’s Day, took the time to inform my MIL that she should be “proud of her son and his family” and that “if everyone looked like that beautiful little girl, America would be a better place,” and that he thought it was just wonderful that a “What are you, Italian?” guy was married to such a beautiful woman.

And he hasn’t been the only one to point out her “perfect skin tone!  I mean really, it’s just perfect!” or her “so good she-must-be-half-White” hair.  “Her Daddy White?” people ask us all the time when just the two of us are out.  Yup.  We’re in that 15%.  I’m sure that Petals has soaked all of this in – as she has so much of the world – though she didn’t say anything about it at the time.


Petals: “Mommy, I’m White.”

Me: “What?  Where are you White?”

Petals: “My shirt is white.  And a little bit pink.”

Me: “Oh.”

Petals: “But my legs are brown.  Like Mommy’s.”

Me: “Yup.  Do you like your brown legs?  I love my brown legs.  They get me where I need to go!”

Petals: “I love my brown legs… Daddy.  Your legs are WHITE.”

The Boy: “Yup.  White and hairy.”

On another note – I’m also not ready to explain religion or sexuality.  She just knows that some of her grandparents say prayers at night and blessings over food.  She knows how to act in a small church, and she knows how to shout “Hallelujah!” from a stage.  She’s getting the hang of finding the matzoh at Passover, and I’m sure that she’s heard other people in the family talking about Heaven – but again, she hasn’t talked to me about it yet.  (Well, she did ask me if I knew Jesus – but I don’t think she was proselytizing, I think she wanted me to read the children’s book her great grandmother got her for Christmas.)  I know that she knows and loves straight and gay couples, and though I’m sure that people have talked about “gay” and “straight” in front of her, I’m not sure how much of it she “gets”.

Petals: “Mommy is a girl.”

Me: “Yup.”

Petals: “Like me.  But Daddy is not a girl. He’s a boy.”

Me: “Yup.”

Petals: “And he’s your man?  Do I have a man?”

Me: “Nope.  Do you want one?”

Petals: “Umm… no.  Maybe Saturday.”

Me: “Well, you don’t have to have a man if you don’t want one.”

See, I want diversity to be a part of her everyday experience.  I want her to know that it’s okay for her to find her own way, and that it’s okay for other people to have a different way than hers.  I’ve taught too many students who flip out at the idea that someone else does something differently than they do.  We’ve had conversations about who in our family likes milk and who doesn’t – or who in our family has long hair or short hair, and how they like it.


Operation: Big Girl Bed (BGB) is so far from “mission accomplished”.  Two nights in a row, she goes to bed with no problems.  She lays down, goes to sleep, and we don’t hear from her ’til morning.  Last night, however?  Last night The Girl crept out of, and was escorted back to, her bed for three hours.