About the Author

Stephen Lazar, a National Board Certified Social Studies teacher, helped start Harvest Collegiate High School  in New York City where he teaches students Social Studies and English, is Assessment Coordinator, and UFT Chapter Leader.  He previously taught at the Academy for Young Writers in Brooklyn and the Bronx Lab School, where he served as Department Chair, Instructional Coach, and UFT Chapter Leader; he first taught in Fairfax Co., VA.  Over the past two years, Lazar worked with Social Studies teachers across NYC and the nation to support to support inquiry-based instruction, project-based learning, and Common Core implementation.  His article, “Septima Clark: Organizing for Positive Freedom”, which focuses on adult literacy education during the Civil Rights Movement, appears in The New Black History, edited by the late Manning Marable, with whom Lazar worked on his master’s degree in African-American Studies.  He is on the Executive Board of ATSS/UFT, is a member of the Teacher Leader Network, and is featured in Teacherpreneurs: Innovative Teachers Who Lead But Don’t Leave.

Published Writing

Presentation, Workshops & Panels

  • “Developing Inquiry-Based Performance Tasks, Units, & Capstones” Workshop at Institute for Student Achievement Summer Institute (June 2012)
  • “Introducing the Common Core to Social Studies Classrooms” Workshop to Highland Park (MI) High School  (May 2012)
  • “Parents, Organizers, and Educators Discuss the Education Crisis” Moderator at Manning Marable Memorial Conference (April 2012)
  • “Re-imagining the Role of the Teacher” & “Using the Common Core Standards to Elevate My Teaching Practice” (with Center for Inspired Teaching) Workshop at Gates Foundation Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers & Teaching Conference (February 2012)
  • “Making History Matter: Using Projects to Engage Disengaged Students.” Presented at National Council for Social Studies Annual Conference (December 2011) & EdCampNYC (December 2010).
  • “On Education” Panel Member. City Hall News & Gotham Schools (http://watch.thirteen.org/video/2106421950/) (August 2011)
  • “Using Inquiry to Develop Historical Thinking” Workshop at Institute for Student Achievement Summer Institute (June 2011)
  • “Rigorous Senior Exit Projects.” Presented to Institute for Student Achievement coaches (October 2010)
  • “Education Nation Teacher Town Hall” Panel Member. MSNBC. (September 2010)
  • “Learning from Leaders” Panel Member. New York State Department of Education Annual Awards Program (May 2010)
  • “Engaging 21st Century Writers: Blogging and Social Networking Tools for the English (or any) Classroom.” Presented at the National Conference for Teachers of English (November 2007)

About the Blog

I had a great but short blogging run my first year teaching in Virginia.  I was a very idealistic, young progressive teacher at a very traditional large public high school with over 200 teachers.  I started my blog because I wanted to blog with students and I thought it would be hypocritical of me not to do the same myself.  I continued because I was desperate for a community of teachers eager to change education for the 21st century.  Blogging allowed me to connect with these teachers all around the world.

After a year of sporadic blogging while pursuing my master’s, I took a job teaching Social Studies at a new progressive public school in NYC, the Bronx Lab School.  I joined a staff of 20 dedicated, motivated, passionate, and open minded teachers, and instantly found the community I didn’t have in Virginia.  I stopped blogging towards the end of my first year at Bronx Lab because I no longer needed a separate community outside of my school, and I couldn’t quite figure out to what extent the lessons of the edublogs I was reading, most of which seemed to address teachers of middle and upper middle class students, applied to the world in which I found myself.  I was also working five times harder due to my students’ greater needs and the immense work necessary to build a new school and just didn’t have the time.

Four years later, I’d grown tremendously as a teacher and a leader, adding my English and National Board Social Studies certifications, and became Department Chair, an instructional coach, and my school’s union chapter leader.  I again found s in search of a new community of educators, not because I didn’t have one, but because I want a larger one and have figured out my situation well enough to be able to take lessons from anywhere.  So I started writing again in early 2010.

Most posts on this blog fall into one of two categories:

  1. Reflections on my planning and teaching of English and Social Studies
  2. Thoughts on school reform and educational policy in the US and NYC through the eyes of a former union rep who does not always agree with my union, but strongly believes in the continued importance of teachers unions in public education.

Welcome to Outside the Cave 2.0.

Part of the header image is borrowed and used under Creative Commons license.

The opinions and views expressed on this site are solely those of the author and in no way express or represent the opinions of my school, its administration, or the New York City Department of Education.