How to [anything]

“How to” is married to “how come?” They are partners in our curiosity and creativity. But along with this great beauty comes something much harder to bear. What do you do about the answers that lie beyond your reach? I have only had one teaching job to date, and this past spring I wondered if the grass might be greener. I’ve been honest with employers and interview committees of why I may be seeking other opportunities, and subsequently why I decided to stop having those conversations for the time being. I am overdue for some professional growth opportunities: those moments…

Internal drive.

What makes us go? Pernille Ripp from Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension provides some challenging and mindful questions about rewards. I am a skeptic of Alfie Kohn, but after what I’ve seen the past two years with PBIS am experiencing my own ‘growth mindset,’ too. PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports), according to the mission statement on their website:  PBIS is a framework or approach for assisting school personnel in adopting and organizing evidence-based behavioral interventions into an integrated continuum that enhances academic and social behavior outcomes for all students.  PBIS IS NOT a packaged curriculum, scripted intervention, or manualized…

Ants and Grasshoppers

Oh that mountain of TBR: To Be Read books, the books we put off all year and then try to binge over the short summer weeks. Perhaps if I capture my list on this blog, it’ll somehow self-curate my reading and curriculum planning time. Maybe? Sure. Sure it will. Ant Books These are my professional books on my list: Jim Burke: The English Teacher’s Companion – I have a marked up copy, and realized it’s time to implement some of those highlighted gems. Jennifer Fletcher: Teaching Arguments I’ve been thumbing through this, and its heavy emphasis on traditional rhetoric seem…

Drawn to the light…

Last night I dragged my family to see The Moth–the theme of the night was “Fish Out of Water.” The host for the evening was Ophira Eisenberg, and she was sparkling funny.So hearing stories: that’s what we want. All of us,  no matter our age, want this connection. That is what is so tough when I am being observed and don’t point to a learning target in the middle of a conceptual anecdote that connects to a bigger idea. Students love stories. Observers often misconstrue the art of the story as “teacher talking too much.” Ever notice how often students want…

Got your back…

I keep saying this in a Indigo Montoya voice from Princess Bride in my head: “You keep saying this word “support”…I do not think you know what it means…” I crack myself up. This time of year: no taking self seriously. Over my career(s), ‘support’ is an ubiquitous word that lost its meaning. When one is in a support position or role, they do not need to meet any rubric, metric, criteria or measurement, so we are all allowed to use this word in any way we choose. I believe anyone who wants to provide support though, while easy to…

How Campbell Brown Made Me Cry.

There is a Blizzard Entertainment computer card game I have played a lot this summer. Why? I don’t know. Why do you play Candy Crush sometimes? We are chickens pecking for grain, all I suppose. The game is called Hearthstone(TM), and it’s a lot of fun. Kind of. It reminds me of something Harry Potter might play, a magical card game. And, it’s just challenging enough to engage me in small doses, and simple enough to have a few “wins.” Players can choose to build decks from the standard World of Warcraft classes: hunter, mage, warrior, etc.But there is one…

26 Love Letters

                A few weeks ago, an NPR report discussed the disappearance and resulting anxiety of the lost art of cursive handwriting from elementary school curriculum. Years ago, when I was working at Starbucks many of my younger co-workers could not read my handwriting, and while this made me feel “old,” it really made me feel sad. There must have been some valid reason why I learned cursive handwriting other than ‘tradition’ or rote direct instruction. There had to be something there, some pedagogical reason besides just having good penmanship. While I strongly disagree…

Sweet home test scores…

Oh, this post started off so well so many times in my head, and now that I am faced with big, bad computer screen, the beginning feels dicey. Should I begin with how I know this person, whom I greatly respect and appreciate being allowed to be part of grand discussions? Should I begin with a short anecdote? Or, perhaps, I’ll begin with an ending: Strike Over, Chicago Students Go Back to Classes So, my friend Jason sent me this email recently: Ok, so here’s my problem.  I generally like teachers.  In general terms I think they are overworked, under-appreciated, and…

Genre Lessons

 Yes, a wall of books. It took most students’ breath away, and teachers, too, who peeked in my room. I was inspired to try this real-life sorting activity and authentic book-talks because of pragmatic realities: having moved classrooms nearly every single year, I had had enough of putting books back on shelves by myself, never to have them handled again by students. So they were left in their boxes (we had school on August 30th and 31st) until that Friday afternoon, when I put boxes on every table, and then had students dump them out. The sorting process started with…