A Chicago Public Schools' teacher education year in review: 2013

A Chicago Public Schools' teacher education year in review: 2013

I should have known 2013 was going to be a bold year for The White Rhino blog. When students, staff, and I spent our first school day of 2013 in our Chicago Public Schools high school without heat, I knew this was an injustice I had to write about. In January, according to Google analytics, The White Rhino got over 12,500 visits.

Now at the end of 2013, this blog got over 81,500 unique visitors and over 124,000 page views. Many thanks!

The post that got the most views is November's "Mexican Etiquette Some White People Need to Learn on Dad's 77th Birthday." With almost 4,000 Facebook likes on this blog and over 14,000 likes on NewsTaco (over 13,000 in one week), this remains the most popular post in my blog's two-and-a-half year history.

February had two bold posts. One presented my students' judgments about Chicago Public Radio's education reporting and, later, CNN Schools of Thought blog posted my editorial: How I talk about guns in my Chicago classroom. After the Sandyhook tragedy, I needed to bring the gun control conversation into my classroom.

In March, the Education Writers Association awarded The White Rhino 2nd place in the blog category of its national writing awards contest. This gave me to opportunity to travel with my 8-year-old son to Stanford in May. I spoke on a panel about teacher evaluation with the brilliant Linda Darling-Hammond, who was almost--and should have been--Obama's Secretary of Education.

Also in March, Easter morning, I awoke at dawn (something I never do on Sundays) to see Google's doodle: United Farm Workers Leader Cesar Chavez. March 31 also happened to be Cesar Chavez Day, thanks to President Obama. Lots of people were not to happy to see this Chicano's image recognized on a religious holiday. And many were not happy I celebrated him on my blog. This post had hundreds of likes by the time I got out of church that Sunday. And lots of comments.

As summer got closer, I watched the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Page Editor Bruce Dold and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Bryd-Bennett have a neutralized conversation about education in our city at the Chase Auditorium. In July, I reacted to the decision in the Zimmerman case.

In August, I sadly wrote about the loss of two people. Teshima Walker Izrael helped open the doors and held them open for me on National Public Radio. Later, singer Eydie Gormé died. Her voice appears in the first chapter of the novel I'm writing.

I maintained my bold voice that month, though, when I criticized an all-white list of top education Twitter feeds to follow, according to the Fordham Institute.

When my 18th year in education began this September, I argued that we must accept the writing Common Core Standards and I showed how my journalism students proved me wrong.

In October, I challenged the purpose of final exams in high school--an outdated approach.

In November, my students' also challenged deficit-based views on an international blog by Grant Wiggins, the well-recognized educator and scholar who co-created the teaching and assessment framework titled Understanding by Design.

Like November (mostly because of my "Mexican Etiquette" post), December also saw over 13,000 visits to The White Rhino blog. I celebrated the Mexican tradition of making an offering to of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I offered up my essay about how I explain this religious and cultural image to my 5-year-old daughter.

The year ended with a brave post critiquing Diane Ravitch, well-recognized and well-criticized historian and author of Reign of Error. She responded, hesitantly it seems, to my post. I replied.

Throughout the year, The White Rhino welcomed voices and views from guest writers:

The most memorable guest post was by my mom who shared her love of music--thanks to a writing workshop through the Neighborhood Writing Alliance.

The conversations must continue in 2014. Thank you to the 680 Twitter followers and to 471 people who "Liked" the The White Rhino Facebook page. May the new year bring more voices and more educational opportunities--especially for students in low-income communities.


If you'd like to continue the education conversation in 2014, please "Like" The White Rhino Blog's Facebook page and follow me @whiterhinoray.

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