Category Archives: Personal Best

About our legacy: What details will be remembered

Whenever you ask young adolescents about the adults in their lives, their teachers, administrators, their bus driver, the lunch ladies, they always focus on some quirky detail that is the part that becomes the whole. Continue reading

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Stories: About a boy

Amazing educators, when you ask them, “What do you teach?”, they reply, “I teach kids!”  Great teachers love kids. They love the students in front of them and they understand the sacred nature of their professional responsibility to nurture the academic and personal development of kids.  Great teachers know that relationships are the most important thing; not homework, not tests, not awesome lesson plans, but relationships. Continue reading

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About kids and devices: Trying to find the answers

Are there areas of your practice as a leader or teacher that you haven’t figured out?   How are you modelling your learning? How can we be transparent about the process as we learn new things and try to find answers to life’s essential questions? Continue reading

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About school: We can make it special

rincipals and teachers can create singular moments for kids everyday.  Like the Brooklyn Nets, these are our schools, classrooms, hallways, gyms, and cafeterias. We are in charge of these settings.  We can do extraordinary things to create lifelong fans of learning and of our schools. Continue reading

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About Feedback: Good enough is not good enough

If you’re going to have a single job for a long time, the two jobs you would do well to consider are classroom teacher and middle school school principal.  Both of these are dynamic roles that are constantly challenging, you can never be bored.  The jobs of the principal or the teacher are wildly unpredictable.  It’s important to have a plan but don’t expect that you’ll be able to follow it. Because of the chaotic dynamism of these roles, there’s a tendency for some people to cling to consistency. Continue reading

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About school climate: You might control the weather

We cannot control the weather, but there are so many things that educators do control.
It’s about intentionality. Everything we do as educators should be done with intention, not because that’s the way were were taught, not because it’s what “feels” right, or what’s easy for us; we must always act in ways that create safe conditions for learning to take place and to build the resilience of our kids.
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About an ordinary life: Encyclopedia Part II

Remembering Dates I share a birthday with Ludwig van Beethoven, December 16. That’s probably why, when I want to play classical music on my Amazon Echo I normally ask,  “Alexa,  play my Pandora Beethoven station.”   Of course Beethoven is awesome, … Continue reading

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About a hero: Detective Steven McDonald

The world lost a true hero recently, Detective Steven McDonald of the New York City Police Department.  Detective McDonald  was an amazing man who, in his words and in his life, embodied character and a belief in the inherent goodness … Continue reading

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About energy: Loving the mannequin challenge

Any middle school teacher knows that one of the most exciting but challenging aspects of the job is the frenetic pace of life with the kids here. The executive function portion of the adolescent brain, the part that slows things down so we don’t make poor decisions, hasn’t fully developed. As a consequence, middle school kids seem to be operating at 78 rpm while the rest of us are at 45rpm. The engines in their brains have more acceleration than brake.
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About envy: Using mentor texts

We guide students to use “mentor texts” in their development as writers. Ralph Fletcher explains that mentor texts are, “…any texts that you can learn from, and every writer, no matter how skilled you are or how beginning you are, encounters and reads something that can lift and inform and infuse their own writing. I’d say anything that you can learn from – not by talking about but just looking at the actual writing itself, being used in really skillful, powerful way.” Continue reading

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