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After the Bell

Dave Orphal

July 27, 2014

Evaluating Teachers Part 2: My Worst Year

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Michelangelo had his worst sculpture.  Pavarotti had a performance in which he missed so many notes, he didn’t return to the stage for the second act.  Ted Williams had a season where he didn’t come close to his typically above .300 batting average.  Over the course of a career, even the greatest had sub-par performances.  Why should we expect more, perfection even, from the rest of us mere mortals?

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Dave Orphal

July 11, 2014

Evaluating Teachers Part I: Getting Rid of a Bad Teacher

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My friend is being fired from her teaching job.

As sad and sympathetic as I am for my friend, I cannot say that I am surprised.  I’ve known this teacher for several years, and I’ve seen the burn-out coming for the entire time of our friendship.

This teacher has been using language like “those kids” and “the kids” for a long time.  Listening to her refer to students like this, as opposed to talking about “my kids,” is a red flag for me.  I know that when I stop referring to my students as mine, then I’m flirting with burn-out and with phoning in my job performance. 

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Dave Orphal

June 21, 2014

Meet The Authors

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 Co-written with Ms. Wendi Pillars

“Oh, my God!  Mr. Orphal!  They are so f*#@ing cute!”

I glared at Ashley, horror and shock on my face.  Was she far enough away from the computer we were using to Skype with the 3rd graders?  Did they hear her?

To her credit, Allison was just as horrified at her slip.  Both her hands leapt to her mouth, her eyes growing wide.  “I’m so sorry, Mr. Orphal,” she whispered.  “It just slipped out.”

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Dave Orphal

June 9, 2014

Peer Partners

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When I was a kid in school, I barely even know that there were kids with special needs on campus.  They were there, in a segregated classroom.  I saw them occasionally at lunch, all together, isolated from the rest of the student body.

I’m ashamed that I used their differences to make myself feel better.  I may have been picked on for being fat.  I may have had only a few friends, all of whom were as unpopular as I was.  At least we weren’t retards!  Yes...  I used that slur.

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Dave Orphal

May 30, 2014

#Yesallmen: UCSB, Misogyny, and Being a Male-Ally

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This is a bit of a departure from what I usually write about, but I have some things I feel I need to say.  This post is not about the rampage in Santa Barbara.  Rather, it is about how this tragedy has rekindled conversations about misogynic aspects of American culture, and the “not all men” defensiveness I have seen in response to these conversations.

It is my belief that one if the privileges of being an ally is that I get to hear the stories that non-allies would refuse to hear.

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Dave Orphal

April 25, 2014

Testing my patience

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Reading the e-mail Tuesday night, I got scared. My principal had been informed by local and state testing officials that one of our students had been able to take a picture of the exam booklet and post the picture on Twitter. We are in a lot of hot water!

Immediately, I thought, “Oh my God! Was it me? Did one of my students do this?” The two other teachers and I tried so hard to be vigilant. We thought our students had behaved so well.

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Dave Orphal

April 15, 2014

Chào mừng bạn đến Quốc Hoa Kỳ (Welcome to the United States)

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Opening up my e-mail and sipping on my third coffee of the morning, I read the following message:

“Hello teachers.  Please welcome a new 10th grader, Ngoc Trinh, coming to us from Vietnam. We will have to do our best to support this student with her limited English skills.”

“Uh oh…” was my first thought. 

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