Author Archives: Mark E.P. Roberts

About Mark E.P. Roberts

teachermandc is Mark E.P. Roberts, a middle-aged, high school English teacher entering his ninth year of instructing young minds. This blog is an attempt to capture the challenge of teaching and the essence of learning. At a time when DC has become the epicenter of educational theory, this blog will keep its preferred focus on students in an somewhat typical DC high school. I have taught in both public and private schools. To date, 95% of my students are of color. All names have been changed, and complaints about in-house politics will be avoided. Hope you enjoy.

The Absence of Fear and the Zimmerman Verdict

When the “Not Guilty” verdict I half-expected was announced on Saturday, I thought back to June and a faculty meeting we had at my Catholic high school two days after underclassmen had cleared their lockers and been dismissed for the … Continue reading

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Their Eyes Keep Watching God

My tenth graders and I spent the last four weeks of the year reading Zora Neale Hurston’s masterpiece, Their Eyes Were Watching God.  Some got it, but some did not.  I understood.  It took me three or four turns before … Continue reading

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A Season for Every Time

Senior Graduation is a two-day affair at my school.  Both celebrations are held in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Michigan Avenue.  It is the largest Catholic church in the Americas, and, on Easter Sunday’s … Continue reading


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Better Late Than Never: What to Do When the Scary Part Comes

Seniors at my school are done for the year.  I have never taught a seniors-only class before, and this year I had four.  Today, when I climbed the stairs to my classroom and passed the hallway where they usually gathered … Continue reading

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The Bringing Up and the Letting Go

I am a fervent traditionalist in most matters excluding race, gender, and human potential; I think it’s the Capricorn in me.   I favor rooted things and try to anchor myself using nature’s rhythm as a guide.  I especially appreciate … Continue reading

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Fighting Words: Epilogue

Calmer heads prevailed, and the two warring girls were only suspended for a few days.  When they returned, each apologized to the class and retook their seats.  On the second day, during a prayer followed by petitions, one of the … Continue reading

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Fighting Words: The Best Way to Avoid Being Stung

There was an altercation in my classroom today–a disagreement sailed beyond the boundaries of what I and the assailants expected.  Two girls allowed hurtful words to escalate beyond their “place of origin” in some meaningless aside, however deliberate.  Too often, … Continue reading

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A Cage in Search of a Bird

“A cage went in search of a bird.” – Franz Kafka, The Third Notebook, November 6, 1917 In my Senior English World Literature classes, we tackled Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” in the last part of the first semester.  While the notion … Continue reading

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Christmas Memories

When I was a little boy, I could never sleep through Christmas Eve.  I always awoke from fiery dreams at about two or three in the morning.  Once, I thought I heard hoofs on our roof and forced myself back … Continue reading

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On Your Mark

I’m not going to pretend.  I’ve been away from this blog too long. But I needed time to adjust my wings.  Flight is often tenuous, especially when it comes to a new school, a new system, and a new beginning.  … Continue reading

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