We Can’t Afford Not to Discuss Current Events

We discuss current events just about every day in my eighth-grade U.S. history classes. Sometimes it takes five minutes, when I bring in an article I think students should know about – on taxes or technology, oral arguments or international diplomacy. Sometimes it takes the whole period, especially on Fridays when students give presentations and…

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Vacations and Showers: Another Reason for Winter Break

At some point this week or next most of our schools will close for “Winter Break.” Why? Perhaps the most obvious reason for this school vacation is Christmas and Chanukah and the Judeo-Christian cultural norm to take an extended break during this time to celebrate and visit family. As educators, the vacation provides much needed…

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It’s Always October

Several years ago, when the San Francisco Giants were on their even-year World Series run (2010, 2012, 2014), there was a buzz in San Francisco that heightened our energy levels. It was a fun time to live and work here. And the notion of a heightened energy level seems appropriate for the month of October:…

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The One Word We Need for a Great School Year

I love to drop in on classes for five to fifteen minutes. Most often I leave having observed something about how a student learns or the way a teacher teaches. Occasionally, however, I learn something that makes me have the proverbial, “aha!” moment. That just happened. After leaving a fifth grade humanities class, I immediately…

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Back to School: Creating Safe, Equitable Spaces for All

Anyone who has been following the news this past summer has noticed much tumult in the world and in our nation. The marches and counter-protests in Charlottesville and Boston ring alarm bells for anyone who believes in a socially just world. It’s a chilling time to be a member of this nation, and as educators,…

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4 Must-Read Books for the Beginning of the School Year

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain This book by Zaretta Hammond draws on cutting-edge neuroscience research to offer an innovative approach for designing and implementing brain-compatible culturally responsive instruction and is appropriate for all teachers at any experience level who strive to make their classrooms a safe and rigorous place for all their students. In…

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“Make Box Brownies”: A Summer Pilgrimage

For educators, summer means many things: catching up on all the TV and books one missed during the school year; taking vacations; sleeping in; engaging in enriching and rejuvenating professional development. In addition to preparing for CATDC’s Teaching Foundations program, I’m participating in an activity my coach and I call a “summer pilgrimage.” Sometimes good…

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Summer School: Gearing Up for Teaching Foundations 2017

We’re well into the 21st Century, and the buzzwords of a new era are part of our daily lexicon now: project-based learning, design thinking, differentiation, personalization. And as the culture of learning has changed in this century, so has the definition of teacher. Whereas once upon a very long time ago, it was okay (I’m…

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The Learning Continues

At the end of my final faculty meeting as Dean of Faculty Development at The Athenian School, I invited everyone to turn and talk to their neighbors about their plans for summer learning: not the assigned educational articles that I had sent out that morning along with the agenda, but their own chosen reading and…

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It’s Okay to Let Go

Gaps, detours and time away from our career path is not necessarily encouraged or acknowledged as a valuable use of time in our independent schools, especially if we aspire to be leaders, and so, against our better judgement we allow our fears and the chatter of others to persuade us to stay even when in…

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Leading with Love: Lessons Learned from My First Year in Administration

First years at anything are hard. Kindergartners learn how to do school for the first time; middle and high schoolers learn how to navigate change not only in academics and moving from self-contained classrooms to several new courses/teachers, but also in social groups and the physical signs of adolescence; college freshmen are learning to live…

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Creating a Growth Mindset In and Out of the Classroom

We want our students to achieve growth, both in and out of the classroom. And we know that simple shifts and practice can have a profound impact on both their work and behavior. Building on Carol Dweck’s work on Growth Mindset and Carol Thomlinson’s Differentiated Instruction, we can design a roadmap for students to meet…

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How to Add Movement to Your Lessons

“If you feel thirsty, your students are probably dehydrated.” I learned this statement in college while training to become a backpacking leader for freshman orientation trips. We, as senior trip leaders, were tasked with keeping tabs on the needs of our groups by measuring our own energy levels and then imagining a (potentially) amplified version…

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