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Op-Alt: The same strategies that fail in schools, fail outside of them

Op-Alt: The same strategies that fail in schools, fail outside of them

When I first started teaching in Baltimore City Public Schools in 1995, I could not figure out how to get my middle school students to sit down long enough to teach them anything. I felt simultaneously adrift and jarred every day with the contrast between the abject poverty of the school and nonchalance of some of the staff. I was sure, however, that my classroom was in chaos and I was failing as a teacher. A colleague across the hall from me, who had all of his students in order, gave me a tip. "Give them lots of work, from the moment that they walk in the door to when they leave. Then grade everything and give the grades back the next day. The kids will settle down." The...

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