Disabled. Hyperactive. Disorganized. Anti-Authoritarian. Highly Effective*.
I am an instructor of English as a New Language (ENL/TESOL) to exceptional learners ("Special Education") at American High School in Bronx, New York. My joy is guiding teenagers towards literacy and productive lives.
In my spare time, I rhyme, study the martial sciences, cook for my wife, and play with my daughter.
This blog is informed by my own experiences as:
1) An adult with multiple learning disabilities.
2) A doctoral student (ongoing).
3) A former lobbyist for higher education and public school reform.
4) A Teacher's Union Organizer in multiple states.
5) An educational sales rep for corporate America.
6) A private tutor, both for the privileged and undeserved alike.
The purpose of this blog is threefold:
1. To model my experiences for the students and educators that I mentor.
2. To document my personal experiences as I grow as an educator, while commenting on education, labor, and society.
3. To provide public accountability so that I reach my personal goals.
4. To mock, satirize, jive, jeer, jest, jeckle, heckle, hoodwink, bamboozle and flim-flam banal aspects of academic life.**
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
Peace. Love. Respect.
*According to the Danielson Rubric For Teaching, I am rated as a "Highly Effective" teacher on the basis of classroom instructional observations. Combined with the standardized test scores of my students, I am just barely rated as "Highly Effective." According to the NYS battery of teacher examinations, I am in the 96th percentile in every subject area. My GRE scores place me in the bottom 25th percentile for Verbal Reasoning AND Mathematical Reasoning. My credit score is in the Good range, with a poor debt-to-income ratio (you read that part about the Master's Degree and Ph.D, yes?).
**Did you see what I did there?
Five years of Doctoral study has offered new perspectives on Space and Time. It was only yesterday that I offered my first introductory video, (of course in rhyme), the “Ode to My Future Self:”
Now, I can truly mean it when I spit the bars:
“You better get a
to come see me.
I flex with a rep
I rap with
your steeze –
All joviality aside, Space and Time has new meaning for a recently knighted PhD. “Dr. Sugar” can now appreciate the doctoral journey fading into the rear-view mirror of my car. Time snaps forward sooner than we realize – especially when academic deadlines are looming. Simultaneously, time often seems to stand still – especially in the long hours of an “all-nighter”, when aforementioned deadlines have somehow penetrated a wormhole and are now due immediately.
This academic journey began with a single step – researching the PhD position. Then, creating a vision for myself. Before I realized it, I was taking Introduction to Academic Writing and Mathematical Reasoning classes. With a snap of a finger, two semesters were done. That’s when an odd change came over me – I started referring to myself as a “Learning Scientist” and discussing “Cognition” in casual conversation.
My thesis – Instruction of Exceptional English Language Learners – forged my academic and contemplative abilities in a crucible. Standing before my professors to defend my work made the hardest Kumite Karate Sparring session look like patty-cake!
These days, I see my daughter bend Space and Time – she’s about to start first grade. I now watch her progress as both a father and a researcher. It was my passion that began with a dream, then became a vision. From my vision, I created a plan, then implemented, evaluated, and modified that plan. Today, my dream has been fulfilled – not only do the doubters have to call me “Dr. Sugar,” but the most sensitive learning populations in public schooling have sound research to advise the professionals that teach them.
In synthesizing the various types of research articles inherent to a Ph.D. program, this researcher has developed a qualitative measure of the linguistic approaches used by scholars in reporting their research. Please consider the following spectrum of language found in research reporting.
On one end of the spectrum, we have Malcolm X:
Brother Malcolm speaks in direct, concise language. His thoughts have an organized, accessible logic. This logic is informed with equal parts experience and extensive references to literature and research. He makes transparent adjustments to his prior conclusions and works to constantly improve his methods. Moreover, X demonstrates an empathy for his audience – a study of his delivery shows his commitment to engaging the recipients of his message.
For a clear anecdotal example, consider “The Bullet or the Ballot,” a speech that defines Brother Malcolm’s poise:
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Mojo Jo Jo:
Mojo Jo Jo uses endless pontification in reference to insignificant concepts. His purpose is finite: to take over the world and destroy all who oppose him – especially the Powerpuff Girls.
Here is a brief example of Mojo’s speech patterns:
The above video is salient to this researcher. The plot of the episode is that Mojo Jo Jo is sentenced to teach English as a New Language for his nefarious crimes. In doing so, he conditions his entire town to speak in his needlessly expanded language – language that he uses as evidence of his superior genius and onus to rule the world. Mojo has no regard for his audience or the quality of his presentation. Instead, he is obsessed with proving his own worth to the world.
By referring to the literature pertaining to the linguistic patterns of qualitative researchers, this educator hopes to demonstrate the applicability of this spectrum to the analysis of scholarly research.
In reviewing the paradigms, theories, methodologies, approaches, and genres of qualitative and quantitative research, I am learning about the nature of data collection. All of these ideas have been universally referred to as a “flashlight” meant to focus the researcher and reader’s approach to data collection. This researcher, of course, has only one response:
So rather than be, literally, the 40th person in one single class (let alone my other 3 classes) to provide the same formulaic introduction – the type of introduction that absolutely no one actually gives two clicks about – I decided to rhyme.
You know whether or not a class will be dope or whack by the reactions of the students and professor to something like this:
(For now, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngrbu-0C5N8)
Today I was exploring mathematical reasoning. In one explanation, I was able to reference my grandfather’s old Brownsville, Brooklyn speakeasy casino mantra: “Never play a Sugar in dice.” In another, I explained the methods of generating Dungeons and Dragons characters with the best results out of supposedly random determination of abilities via six-sided-dice. In a third, I explained the concept of “high/low” and progressive betting in Blackjack.
I’d say this is was a superb day of educational exploration.