Top Memories from My Time at Bronx Lab

2010-11 Teaching Portfolio Entry #1

Top Ten Thirteen Memories from My Time at Bronx Lab

13) Far too many drinks with colleagues at the late Four G’s
12) Seeing Tyree, BLS Class of ’09, give our students an information session at Sarah Lawrence College.
11) The many moments this year when my students truly demonstrated that they understood just how messy history is.
10) The look on Frank’s face, who I mentored this year, when was waiting outside my classroom door to tell me that Mubarak had resigned while he had the feed up live in his class.
9) My very first day as a paid employee at the school, where the class I was subbing for claimed they were organizing a walk out in protest of a teacher who was leaving.  I was certain they were messing with me, and forced them to continue the lesson.  Turned out, they were serious.
8) Watching my wonderful advisory grow over the four years we had together at school, and to be able to continue to do so in the year since they graduated.
7) The final meeting of my senior philosophy class this year, both mine and their last class at Bronx Lab, where we had a deep, hour long conversation using everything we learned that year around the question, “Why do you listen to me?”
6) When, on my first college trip with the students, I spent breakfast discussing with Ronnie the results from the previous night’s Super Tuesday primary election, and had a senior citizen come up to us after and tell us how nice it was to see two young men intelligently discussing politics.
5) Having my advisory throw me a surprise birthday party during their junior year.
4) Taking fifty students up to New Hampshire the day before the 2008 primary where, in one day, we saw Huckabee, McCain, Obama, and Clinton; the look in Rasheed’s eye as he saw Obama speak, and in Rhashan’s after he shook his hand.
3) The four hour drive with Stephanie and her mom to New York State History Day, where I failed to convince her that The Great Gatsby was not the worst book ever written.
2) Having the honor of being selected by the Class of 2009 as their graduation speaker, after teaching all of them for two years, and many of them for three.
1) The August graduation ceremony Michael and I planned, still the only time I’ve cried in my adult life.

The Little Things That Make It All Worthwhile

An old student of mine left this on my Facebook page yesterday:

“Remember that junior in high school who wrote a paper about the Seneca Falls Convention for History Day? Well, she is now a sophomore in college, and is actually going to that same place she wrote a paper on in 2008. YUP! Tomorrow I will be at the place where women suffrage began =) (I hope I don’t cry)”

She added this after going:

It was AMAZING. Being where it all started it, having stuff I learned be present in front of me, was just mind blowing. I loved every single minute of it. Just being a women and being able to stand in that chapel where it all began in 1848 made me feel powerful.

Goals for the 2010-11 School Year

Following directly on the heels of my last post, here are my goals for the upcoming school year:

Along with my planning team, I will write an 11th grade Global History curriculum, that Humanities department chairs and school administrators agree is a model for how Humanities classes should be taught at Bronx Lab because they will support students in producing excellent authentic, project-based assessment work that serve as formative assessments towards high Regents achievement and college-readiness.

Each of the six Global History projects done this year will meet at least 8 of the 9 criteria for Project Based Learning from the Buck Institute for Education.

Students will experience at least one historical simulation, participate in at least one Socratic Seminar, and write at least one essay in each unit.

By the end of the year, every social studies course will have at least four revised, authentic, project-based assessment that has received constructive criticism from other members of the Social Studies Department. These projects will assess students on at least 75% of the OAH National History Standards that the department agreed to use last year.

100% of my new advisees will either graduate or earn at least ten credits by June.

Personal / Professional Development
At least once per week, I will write and publish a reflective piece of writing to assess in my professional practice things that worked well, things that need to improve, and/or ideas for the future.

Every two months, I will write and publish a self-evaluation of how I am doing on these goals.

2009-10 Teaching Portfolio

Along with two other teachers at my school, and inspired by a similar program at the Manhattan Village Academy, I put together a teacher portfolio this year to help my own personal development, consisting of the following sections:

  1. Inquiry Question: How can I support my students in developing their research skills? Analysis & Reflection, Assignments, & Student Work
  2. Supporting Journal Article and Analysis
  3. Best Lesson and Reflection
  4. Advice for someone teaching this course next year
  5. Top 11 Memories of the 2009-10 School Year
  6. Reflection on Goals for the Year
  7. Goals for the 2010-11 School Year
  8. Lesson from the Portfolio Process

Stephen Lazar 2009-10 Teacher Portfolio

Top 10 Memories of the 2009-10 School Year

Along with two other teachers at my school, I’m putting together a professional development portfolio for the year, which we will present to the staff. We hope this will expand for next year.  I’ll be posting different parts of the portfolio in the coming days as I complete it.

10) Catching my favorite junior couple studying notecards for the US Regents at 4pm in the hall outside of my classroom, over three hours after dismissal that day.
9) Having my usually very rough senior seminar be perfect angels for my friend Scott’s lesson on research at the Columbia University Butler Library.
8) Senior seminar students’ shockingly and brutally honest self-reflections at our end of quarter seminar Exhibitions.
7) Writing a letter that got a student out of jail.
6) Having my advisees over for a nice, sit-down pasta lunch in my apartment on our first Advisory Day; almost finishing a Vermonster on our last one.
5) A seminar student making the comment at our seminar’s first quarter ice skating celebration, “This seminar isn’t about changing the world, it’s about changing ourselves.”
4) In my US CTT section, a game developed out of an exercise I use with my students where I ask them to connect different vocabulary terms, where they tried to find two US terms that I couldn’t connect.  On our last day, one student challenged me to connect “The Beatles influence on America” and Abraham Lincoln, and I made the following connection: Beatles -> Rock & Roll -> Heavy Metal -> The Wild Stallions in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure -> Bill and Ted going in a time machine to kidnap Abraham Lincoln for their history project.  Shockingly, almost a third of my students got the reference.
3) One senior’s amazing transformation from my biggest pain in 11th grade US History  last year to without a doubt my best senior seminar student.
2) Taking two advisees as my guests to my National Board awards ceremony, then treating them to lunch at Lupa, where I got one, who is one of the pickiest eaters I have ever met, to try and like tongue.
1) That same advisee’s speech for me at Senior Dinner, highlighted by: “Steve can always be a pain and there were always the small things I didn’t agree with that have benefited me today, like reading EVERY SINGLE TUESDAY AND THURSDAY up until last month for the past four years while other [advisories] would fool in the hallways and converse about what they pleased.  Or like having to carry the pass EVERY SINGLE TIME we left the classroom, and if not, when we returned we’d get the ‘step outside’ followed by the 5 minute speech about having serious consequences, and [the behavior] not happening again.”