Category Archives: Teaching/Learning

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 Work / Life Balance: So much to learn

It can be difficult to describe the magic of the Ed camp model.  It’s liberating to cast off the formalities, restrictions, and passivity of conventional educational contexts (read: SCHOOL) and embrace a mode of learning that elevates choice, participation and sharing.  When I’m asked to give an example of the power of EdCamp, I will describe the amazing session that took place this past Saturday on the topic of Work / Life balance. We wish you were there! Continue reading

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About reading: You’re not alone

For every adolescent who encounters fear or conflict or love, there is a person, real or fictional, whose life is described in words and whose experiences can help them realize they aren’t the only one.  When kids read books, they come to recognize that the world contains innumerable thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Continue reading

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About cooking: You can eat your mistakes

@DMGately at Nathan’s Famous 4th of July. It was the Fourth of July.   I was doing what I love doing in the summertime, using my barbeque smoker to make pulled pork sliders for dinner. I woke up at 4:15am to … Continue reading

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About hope: We can’t give in, can’t give up

When Sandy Hook happened, I was certain that something would change.  Six and seven year olds!  If as a nation we were not willing to do something to address gun violence in our schools following the deaths of six and seven year-olds, I told myself, nothing would ever change.  How could we not act!?

But we didn’t.  

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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 middle level teaching: Nobody wants to be the Junior Varsity*

Actions follow our beliefs.  If there is one piece of advice that all middle school teachers must follow it is this,  “Middle school kids are different,  don’t expect to succeed with the same strategies that might work with elementary or high school kids.” 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 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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