My new students file in, not sure of why they’re in my class. It’s not English: it’s an “elective,” but they’re not allowed to drop it. Most of them found me on their schedule without any explanation from anyone (Yay for unpleasant surprises!). They might have heard that my class is for people who can’t read. They might have heard that my class is easy. In any case, there’s confusion and, often, there is anger masking embarrassment. For high schoolers, being in a reading class can be a badge of shame: their eyes dart around the room, looking for a way out.

One of the things they will see as they desperately try to figure out what they’re doing here is an 8×11.5 bright yellow page that says, simply, “Don’t Panic.” Continue reading “The “Don’t Panic” Philosophy of Teaching”

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