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“Oh my God, have you been waiting for this?!” Irvin Randle asked his second graders. It was a big day: the students were finally learning their multiplication tables, and the excitement inside the portable classroom was palpable. “Yes!” the kids screamed in response. They wiggled in their seats and pumped their arms. Some even rose to their feet, propelled by anticipation. It was a Tuesday morning in late April, and the sixty-year-old Randle was teaching math at a southeast Houston elementary school, as he has most weekdays between August and May for the past 25 years. Randle commanded the room, thanks to one of the staples of his teaching style, a remarkably effective use of call-and-response. When he hollered, “I need everybody to pay what?” he…
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