Ray Salazar, NBCT

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Ray Salazar has been an English teacher in the Chicago Public Schools since 1995. He is a National Board Certified Teacher. His blog, The White Rhino, tied for second place in EWA's Community Members Best  Blog category in 2012. National Public Radio and Chicago Public Radio aired his essays and the Chicago Tribune and CNN's Schools of Thought Blog published his editorials. Salazar earned a bachelor's degree in English/Secondary Education and master's degree in writing, with distinction, from DePaul University.  Visit his blog The White Rhino at www.chicagonow.com/white-rhino Follow him on Twitter @WhiteRhinoRay Contact: WhiteRhinoBlog@gmail.com
Four Questions Teacher Leaders Must Ask Themselves
Ray Salazar, NBCTAugust 24, 2017

Last year Teach to Lead invited me to give the keynote speech at the summit on inclusion, equity, and opportunity.  A partnership between, National Board, ASCD, and the U.S. Department of Education, Teach to Lead hosts Teacher Leadership Summits to help spotlight and advance the groundbreaking, teacher-led work that is happening in states, districts, and schools across the country. The teams from numerous parts of this country reminded me—as I’ve been reminded every year since I started teaching twenty-one years ago—that there is one universal truth that must always guide us: there are no simple solutions.  But there are solutions.  And…

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How to Help Teens Deal with the Challenges of Male and Female Gender Expectations
Ray Salazar, NBCTMarch 8, 2017

Through our teaching, socially conscious teachers aim to create learning environments that help students see themselves as change agents, if not in their society, at least in their own lives. Twenty-one years ago when I started teaching, I could simply say, “I teach.” But in the last few years, I’ve found that describing what I do is much more complex. In addition to the academic part of teaching, I find that I am helping students deal with social-emotional issues regularly. Too often, I learn about a student’s struggles with mental health. I learn about students who harmed themselves. I learn…

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Why More High Schools Should Have a Block Schedule
Ray Salazar, NBCTNovember 3, 2016

When I started teaching in 1995 at an alternative high school in Chicago (a school that gave dropouts a second chance at a diploma), we were on a block schedule. I saw students every other day for about 90 minutes a class. I hated it. As a new teacher then, I found it difficult to plan to engage students that long. And this is the era when we still had VCRs—I was still buying music on cassettes—so showing a video clip to add some variety or depth was complicated. I had to go to Blockbuster and pray they had the…

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Listening to Students’ Voices through Audio Essays
Ray Salazar, NBCTAugust 16, 2016

I aim to teach my Chicago high-school students that writing is not always about the writing. Yes, the ideas, the sentence structure, the connotations matter. But sometimes, the process before the writing or after matters more. I start every year with a challenging non-fiction narrative unit that pushes students to focus on one key event in their lives—something that led to a shift in their habits of mind. I want it to be more than a personal essay, I tell them. “I want it to be something that matters to more people than you,” I explain. One of the texts…

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Why More Teachers Should Use Podcasts
Ray Salazar, NBCTMay 13, 2016

When we started the third of four quarters in February, I gave up on getting my students to read outside of class. Despite the fact that the approaching ACT and an AP English Language test were a couple months away, I said, “No more reading Atlantic articles for homework. Now,” I told them, “I need you to listen.” So every week, I’ve been assigning podcasts from NPR’s the Hidden Brain. The homework completion rate? Almost 100%. Podcasts continue to gain popularity. But I didn’t give this assignment to join the bandwagon. I did it because of the thought-provoking experiences I…

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When We See Ourselves in Our Students
Ray Salazar, NBCTSeptember 8, 2015

Editor’s Note: Ray Salazar, NBCT,  teaches high school English in Chicago Public Schools and  is an award-winning blogger. The views expressed in this blog are his own. I admit it: I have favorite students. While I look out for all my students and work to build strong professional relationships around writing with all of them, there are always students I look out for a little more. It’s not usually the outspoken, charismatic, or high-achieving young people who become my favorites. Instead, I end up admiring the students who speak up only occasionally or rarely, who express their writing frustrations honestly,…

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Teaching Writing on the Side of a Coffee Cup
Ray Salazar, NBCTAugust 7, 2015

Editor’s Note: Ray Salazar, NBCT,  teaches high school English in Chicago Public Schools and  is an award-winning blogger. The views expressed in this blog are his own. Writing matters to students when they see how words survive in the real world. Yes, our classrooms are the real world. But if the writing in class does not connect to students’ hearts and minds and what matters to them, the lessons can disappear like a Snapchat. I want students to remember the value, the power our writing. When I worked at a high school in downtown Chicago, I treasured the day (every…

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Why my students’ AP scores matter. And why they don’t.
Ray Salazar, NBCTMay 13, 2015

Editor’s Note: Ray Salazar, NBCT,  teaches high school English in Chicago Public Schools and  is an award-winning blogger. The views expressed in this blog are his own I fight the obsession with testing and over-testing in our classrooms.  Yet, given the choice, I choose to teach AP English Language every chance I get.  After months of intense writing and thinking, over sixty of my students take their AP test this morning.  This is the sixth time I’ve taught this class.  And each year, I value this course—and the experience of teaching it—more and more.   Focused on examining non-fiction and…

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