Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Some random mid-week thoughts...

Hello. Here are some random thoughts.

1) I had my first "back to school" nightmare the other night. I went into the classroom imagining I was teaching one class and my students informed me they were there for another class, one I had never heard of before. Terrifying.

2) Tonight I was reminded about the power of science fiction/popular culture. I was watching Dr. Who. The Doctor & Amy took Vincent Van Gogh to the Musee d'Orsay in order to see his works in a museum, and to hear himself be praised by the curator. At this point in his life Van Gogh had thought himself a failure, worthless. It was brilliant, sorrowful, and ecstatic all at once. Two thoughts. It's not only artists, musicians, or authors whose works are appreciated much later in their life, perhaps after they're gone. How wonderful it'd be to the spirit to have a time machine and see your work realized after you were gone.

Secondly, I'm always disappointed with the marginalization of "pulp" fiction in the Literature context. There seems to be two ways it's presented in a classroom, either as a gateway to other more important texts, or as a means to practice rhetorical/literary theorems before tackling the big stuff.

3) My cobbled together reading summer list as of now. I've just finished #2.

1. The Book Thief
2. A Confederacy of Dunces
3. In Cold Blood
4. The Grapes of Wrath
5. A Clockwork Orange
6. Stranger in a Strange Land
7. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

There's several libraries full of things I've never read or even heard of.

4) I've so far forgotten to thank all the great support staff who work ALL summer long, including the custodians, secretaries, administration, and IT techs. Thank you!

5) I've been awful about responding to comments on the blog so far. Perhaps I'll change that this week...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Week Four Hours & International Invitation


This week's video may be my shortest & most to the point yet. Partly because I didn't work very much this week, and partly to counteract last week's soapbox. Regardless, here it is...

Once more, I'd really like to hear thoughts from those abroad. Here in America we're constantly bombarded by politicians and the media about how we're falling behind on the global scene. I'm not a very competitive person, and I don't put much stock into the notion that we're somehow in competition with other nations. I've never thought the only purpose of education was to get a job...

Secondly, I'd like to give a shout out to David Sabine of Canada and Alicia Pashby of Ukraine! They've joined the google spreadsheet document that can be found here: Google Doc Spreadsheet If you're feeling courageous, or just frustrated, please join! If you have problems adding yourself to the document please e-mail me and I will give you access rights.

For those who use Facebook - I'm not really sure how to utilize it to the best of its abilities. I just thought it was a good idea to snatch up all the "2,000 Hour" sites I could. So far all I've been posting is videos, but now I've also added "Facebook Exclusives!" That's a fancy way of saying I divulge some behind the scenes information on the web series. If you have Facebook search for 2,000 Hours and like it! Also, if you have thoughts on how I could use the site more effectively I'm all ears.

Thanks everyone, have a great week!

Monday, June 20, 2011

An open letter to Prometric

To Whom it may Concern...

I was scheduled to take the G.R.E. at your testing center this morning. I was more than a little frustrated at the sign on the door announcing the test had been cancelled due to technical difficulties. My bigger question, though, is why the e-mail & phone call announcing the cancellation came fifteen minutes after I was to have begun the exam, forty-five minutes after I was to have shown up in the first place. It seems like this is something you could have done yesterday afternoon before I made a two hour round trip for nothing. I look forward to giving you my business and finger prints in the future.


Charles Ripley

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week Three Hours & Thoughts on the Private Sector


It's been a busy week, but not necessarily as a teacher. Work around the house and time with friends dominated this week, which is good. It's what summer should be. So, here's the video for this week. Be warned that my thoughts on business are more political than I normally care to be. However, I'm happy with how it turned out.

It does run a bit long though, so in case you get tired of watching me talk I've included the script.


First off, I want to wish everyone a happy Father’s Day. Dad, if you’re watching, I love you. There. It’s on the internet…can’t take it back.

Secondly, my hour count for the week. It was a little slower this week as I visited with friends and worked around the house. The hours breakdown as seen here.

I spent some time in the building moving books, shelves, and discussing text options. I also spent some time reading The Book Thief, which was excellent. It gave me a few ideas about both reading comprehension and writing techniques, such as mixing first person and third omniscient.

Lastly, I wanted to spend some time this week discussing the private sector. This year especially saw a chasm grow between public and private employees, with fights in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Rhode Island to name a few. During the height of state budget seasons teachers were portrayed by select politicians and media outlets as lazy, greedy, and unsympathetic to the plight of American workers everywhere.

There are so many responses I could have to that it’s hard to begin. Let me first allude to one of my favorite comedians Conan O’Brian. As he left the Tonight Show he asked those watching to be kind, to work hard, and to avoid being cynical. That’s the philosophy behind this project, and behind myself, and so let me say the following in all honesty and without a hint of postulating.

I get it. America is in the worst economic state since our Great Depression, a state that is mirrored throughout many nations worldwide. Jobs are disappearing, what money we have is worth less than it used to be, and staples for life are rising. As a nation we’re scared and we’re angry.

Teachers are not unaware of this. Our family, our friends work amongst you. We fear for the sustainability of their jobs as much as our own. While we may not find fulfillment in sales, insurance, or producing widgets we understand that these are necessary for society, and are thus noble as well. Quality lies within the person, not the position they hold.

Our positions are not so different right now. I don’t mean to compare the minutia of our careers, but rather where we find ourselves in the public forum.

Because we have put off regulating ourselves we now find ourselves at the hands of the American public, who are angry that we’ve tacitly protected those who have performed their jobs poorly and reflected that upon our profession.

We both face stiff competition from overseas. There seems to be a never ending supply of cheap foreign labor ready to take your job, or dramatically alter your position in the company. While teachers are not often outsourced we are now being constantly compared to teachers who work in very different cultures, have different expectations, and are compensated differently.

Lastly, there’s just not enough money right now. If we had more, we could do more. Be more productive, produce a higher quality product, and in turn invest our money into each other. Critics blame unions, regulations, or pay structures. They point out (in truth) that we’re working with more money than we have in the past, but they don’t know or care where that money has gone.  We know the kernel of truth in their arguments can not possibly sow true and lasting reform.

And yet, we’ve let ourselves turn against each other. Your tax dollars fund our jobs, and in turn we educate your children. We provide a public service that we believe is valuable, whether or not you have children yourself.

We hope to provide a high quality service that is egalitarian in nature. We know that’s not the truth, be we hope that through public education the poor and rich, white and black, or any other dichotomy you can name will be given an equal shot for success.

Our service creates citizens who not only purchase your products and services, but will work for you in time. The private sector has the most to gain from a highly educated and motivated populace. Think of it as long term investing in human capitol.

I believe in public education. I believe in private enterprise. And while our work is more alike than we may realize they should stay separate. While private, parochial, or home schooling are options that should exist we should dedicate ourselves to rejuvenating, reforming, and refunding public schools.

You want a “world class education” for your kids. You get what you pay for. Taxes need to be raised. We need more teachers and we need to be paid more. Yes, we get into teaching for the children, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a living wage. If we work as many hours as those with similar education and experience levels why should it matter if we do it twelve months or in ten?

I want corporations that protect American jobs. Corporations that act ethically, environmentally friendly, and have much less disparity in wages. Corporations that pay their taxes. Corporations that are able to work with unions and government regulation. Yes, they slow progress and profit, but they protect us from our own avarice and haste.  Corporations to create jobs through the strength of their products and services, not by the strength of their political connections.

I know that corporations and small businesses like that may require tax incentives on a local, state, and national level. I’m o.k. with that. I view it as a long term investment in National capitol.

Next week I’ll be back with more hours and more thoughts on public education. Have a good week everyone! 

So, what do you think? What is the current relationship of private & public sectors in America? How can they work together towards the common goals we should both have? Comment away, and enjoy your week!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Week Two Hours & Google Document


I'm a little ahead of schedule this week and thought I may as well post this today.

I actually worked this week! Three days in the office and then a few hours at home. I got a lot of great work done on my American Literature calendar for next year.  This upcoming week I'm looking to devote time to creating my Moodle sites and more prep work for the G.R.E.

I set up a Google Document for us this morning, feel free to access at the following.

Google Doc 2,000 Hours Spreadsheet

Remember, keep a hard copy near and private.

Also, remember to enjoy yourself and relax! If you love classic Spielberg films do yourself a favor and check out Super 8 this weekend. I haven't been awed by a film like that since District 9.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Time Card & E3


As promised, here's the time card that I'll be using for my project. It's a simple spreadsheet I'm doing through excel, but I'm looking at creating a google document for those wanting to join.

In other news it's an exciting time to be a nerd. E3, the annual electronic entertainment expo is currently being held. I can't help but feel a little excitement at Halo 4 or how painful it may be to play Minecraft using a Kinect.

This got me thinking about gaming and teaching. I've only really used video games in the classroom as a way to build relationships with students. It's a privilege of the young, I realize, so I may as well use it while I can. I've previously served as staff advisor to both Guitar Hero and Pokemon' club.

Here are two resources you may be interested in should you also be a part time gamer. 

First, this blog from Joel Levin out of New York. He uses Minecraft in his computer class to some great results. 

I also had some time to read Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal this Spring. It's not necessarily a pedagogical text, but is a very interesting read about the power of gaming to empower oneself. Her website is located at

More and more schools are getting out this week. Welcome to summer, and take some time for yourself!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Week One Hour Count & Rules


I've had quite a busy four days, but, as promised, here's video two. Look for my timecard on Tuesday at the latest. Between revising curriculum, writing several moodle sites, studying for my G.R.E.'s, and Dr. Who on Netflix it's a little low on my priority list right now. Be well everyone!


Friday, June 3, 2011

First Reactions & Quick Preview of Sunday Night


I've been out of town the past 36 hours without an internet connection, so I apologize about the radio silence.  It's been welcoming, but a little overwhelming to see the response so far. I hope I'm up for the challenge!

Here's a few quick responses to the general comments that have been made so far.

1) I will be posting my rules and justification of them on Sunday.
2) Along with my rules will be an official time card, if you will.
3) I'd love to be able to create a website or cloud document to organize hundreds or thousands of teacher's logs. I'd welcome suggestions on that topic.
4) Hello to all my international colleagues! As American schools are currently being negatively favored to schools abroad I am very curious to hear international opinions of American schools and students!
5) I really like the tone of the discourse so far. Opinionated, but respectful. Please keep that up!

I did some filming tonight for my rules video coming on Sunday night. I hope to post videos on Sunday nights for the next year, and intermittent writings. I'm sure they will ebb and flow as the year progresses.

Thanks to everyone for the kind and encouraging words! Keep spreading the idea and stay strong!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The following is a rough transcript from my introduction video, which you can find below.  In the coming weeks and month I am planning on logging every hour I work as a teacher. I do so in the hopes of demonstrating that a ten week break this summer does not mean I work or am worth less than any private sector job. If you're a teacher I'd like not only your attention, but also for you to join me. Years ago I tried this, but did so anonymously and alone. I figure adding some accountability and the attention of others will force me to follow through this time. Thanks for your time, and come back for updates!

My name is Charles Ripley and it’s the first day of summer. I just finished my fifth year as a High School English teacher.  I work with amazing, dedicated colleagues.  My students are intelligent and hard working.  I live in a community that values education. This is my dream job. But, despite all that, I have a confession to make.

I don’t know if I can go another five.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know I’m lucky to be employed and that there’s hundreds who would take my job. 

So ask yourself…why would he be considering turning his back on the past ten years of his life to settle down to an entry level business job?

I’m not alone.

According to the NEA, half of new teachers quit by the time they’re in the profession for five years or less. Half.  Imagine if half of doctors or lawyers or engineers quit after five years.  Reasons for this are various.  Low pay, long hours, and burn out.

This year has been especially perplexing.  Nationwide I’ve seen a harsh attack on my profession.  We’ve become solely responsible for budget shortfalls or failing students.  Teacher’s unions have become targets for politicians and documentaries.

Some of what they say is true.

There are bad teachers. There are students who we fail to teach.  There is corruption in education, from the highest administrators to the newest employees.  Teachers are part of the problem.  But we are not wholly to blame.

For me, the time to speak up has come. I can only speak for myself, but I believe what I’m willing to say is on the minds of most teachers.

We are not over paid.
Tenure needs reform, not removal.
We want to be held accountable, but not by test scores.
We do not work fewer hours than you.

It’s that last point I’m most bitter about, to be honest. Yes, it’s summer, and I’m excited for the chance to rest.  But I’m also anxious, and a little resentful. I know that most arguments, debates, or conversations about teachers boil down to “summers off.”

It’s the invincible defense.  How am I, or you to respond?  “No, I don’t have ten weeks off?”  I want to end the misconceptions about the quality and quantity of a teacher’s work. 

For the next year I invite you to follow me.  I’ll be on youtube, facebook, twitter, and blogspot.  I will log every single hour I spend teaching, coaching, grading, and furthering my own education.  I believe it will reach, and probably surpass 2,000 hours.

I believe that over the span of a year, despite weekends, despite holidays or summer break, I put in as many hours as any private sector job.  And I’d like to invite my fellow teachers in logging our time.

So, starting on your first day of summer vacation, log one year’s time of work, whether it’s continuing education, classroom hours, grading, or coaching.  In the meantime I’ll be working on how to collect and present this data in the most effective way possible.

I know this idea may seem petty, cynical, or even childish. I can only assure you that that’s not my intention. I’m not a great teacher, and I know there are many people who work harder than I do.  I just want to share my story and hopefully change your mind about the nation’s teachers.

Thank you for your time and consideration. You can also e-mail me at Please like, follow, retweet, and share this message with every teacher in your life.  We’ll need all of their help.

Thank you, and enjoy your summer.