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Lori Ungemah
Lori taught English in Brooklyn for 11 years in what politicians refer to as "failing schools." She stayed in such schools by choice. She has her Masters in English Education from Brooklyn College and Doctorate in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She left her job as a high school English teacher this past fall to purse a career in teaching English in community college in the City University of New York. She's interested (personally and academically) in issues of teaching, race, curriculum, and urban education. She talks more about these issues on her blog:

Entries by Lori Ungemah

I Fought the Lice and the Lice Won

(2) Comments | Posted September 19, 2014 | 5:47 PM

The title is a bit hyperbolic, but that is how the past week has felt. No, we are not festering beneath a pile of bugs at the present moment. In fact, the LiceEnders ladies came to my kids' public school yesterday and did not find lice on my children, just...

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Dear Trayvon

(10) Comments | Posted July 17, 2013 | 4:32 PM

Dear Trayvon,

I never knew you and I never will, but I feel like I knew you. From all I have read about the person you were before you were killed by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012, you sound like many of students I taught here in Brooklyn, New...

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My Privilege Can't Save Me -- or My Kids -- From High Stakes Testing

(1) Comments | Posted April 1, 2013 | 3:23 PM

Working in a Title I high school for ten years where the poverty level of the students exceeded 80%, we were forced to face many educational reform movements head on. Due to our students' low literacy and numeracy skills, we struggled to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for No Child...

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Friends Belong to Each Other

(6) Comments | Posted March 29, 2013 | 6:17 PM

I have been thinking about the Steubenville rape case as the never ending publicity and commentary circulates through social media, magazines I read at the drug store without buying them, and on the National Public Radio shows I listen to as a pause from working and writing. Something about the...

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The Choices Teachers Must Make

(11) Comments | Posted January 5, 2013 | 4:15 PM

It would probably not surprise you to know that I have always had a planned evacuation route from my classroom should there be a school shooting. I had one in the middle school where I worked for one year, the high school where I worked for ten years, and I...

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School Is Sacred

(3) Comments | Posted December 18, 2012 | 10:28 AM

On the first day of the spring semester, my second year teaching, I saw my first violent fight. It was an unusual fight in that it was unprompted by the prologue of, "Son, son..." and muscular chests popping out like proud roosters while necks reached forward to beckon the first...

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Homeless in College

(5) Comments | Posted December 11, 2012 | 3:56 PM

I have had homeless students before. In fact, when the recession began to rear its ugly head the number of students in our high school who lived in shelters grew and grew and grew. The students guarded this information closely, though. Sometimes they would quietly tell you after class or...

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Teaching After a Disaster

(6) Comments | Posted November 2, 2012 | 3:33 PM

We have been out of school for a week now. The public school teachers had to report to work today in NYC -- that's 80,000 employees trying to weave their way to their school buildings amid a major lack of transportation, personal losses, and a lack of childcare of their...

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Being a Teacher on 9/11

(0) Comments | Posted September 12, 2012 | 11:04 AM

September 11, 2001, also happened to be my second day of teaching high school. I had taught middle school the year prior, but my school, IS 111, had been shut down very abruptly and I landed a job in Cobble Hill, the neighborhood next to Brooklyn Heights, the neighborhood next...

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First Days of Class: Make Room for the Moments

(1) Comments | Posted August 20, 2012 | 6:12 PM

Later in my teaching career, I began a small list called "Why I Teach" that highlighted some of the kairos moments in the classroom. Just like my favorite parenting essay talks of the chronos and kairos of parenting, the same concept can be easily transferred to teaching.

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What is Academic Rigor?!

(6) Comments | Posted July 19, 2012 | 2:03 PM

My years in the classroom were filled with educational jargon. When you work in a failing school, educational reform movements and their key words are birthed into your classroom after gestating in what I imagine to be windowless rooms where policymakers stare at data. One hot term that circulated was...

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Five Steps to De-Stressing for Urban Teachers

(8) Comments | Posted July 12, 2012 | 6:11 PM

No doubt, teaching in urban schools can wear you down. I can't even tell you how many times I have sat in my classroom and cried, cursed, or just stared at my bulletin boards that needed updating, paralyzed and practically drooling on myself from exhaustion, frustration, or anger. Everyone has...

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Writing Down the Grief

(8) Comments | Posted May 23, 2012 | 10:32 AM

Today marks sixteen years since my dad passed away. Diagnosed with juvenile onset diabetes around 1950, it is pretty amazing that he lived until 1996, until he was 61 years old. He was a diabetic for years before individuals tested their own blood sugar by pricking their fingers at home....

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Thoughts on Teacher Appreciation Week

(1) Comments | Posted May 7, 2012 | 4:37 PM

There are many, many instances when my teaching life and my parenting life either overlap or stand in stark contrast to one another in painful or beautiful ways. These instances have only increased since my daughter entered pre-kindergarten this past fall in our neighborhood public school in Brooklyn. We live...

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Seeing Violence, (Not) Seeing Bullying

(9) Comments | Posted May 3, 2012 | 2:57 PM

I am lucky to live in one of the few cities that released the documentary Bully a month ago and I rushed to see it. This film could not portray an environment more different from my teaching experiences if it tried. It follows several young men and women in small...

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Stop Hating, Start Teaching

(30) Comments | Posted April 19, 2012 | 6:18 PM

Your social studies teacher loved you. He loved you so much, he willfully ignored your lapses in grammar. He *knew* what you were trying to say, even when you didn't say it clearly in your papers, so he gave you full credit for half-thought out papers. He overlooked the structural...
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Complicating the Racist Hunger Games Tweets

(4) Comments | Posted April 9, 2012 | 11:31 AM

I finally saw The Hunger Games film on Sunday night in a packed movie theater at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I felt like I was the last person to see the movie, but as I squeezed between a kind man who was a heavy breather and a large woman...

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An Open Letter to the Teachers of Trayvon Martin

(0) Comments | Posted March 26, 2012 | 1:43 PM

When I first learned of the tragedy that happened on February 26, in Sanford, Florida, when Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman and the catalog of unfathomable events that have unraveled since then, I was shocked, hurt, and felt an ache in my chest cavity as a mother. Even...

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