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on confidence

Don’t you love those trainings that actually get you thinking? Not the ones that waste your time, the ones that leave you with a kink in the neck because you’re constantly glancing at the clock, but the ones that hit you… “in the feels?” (as my kiddos would say). Yesterday I had the blessing of just such a training about leadership in presence and presentation. And what crystallized in mind was moment of clarity about my year. I am a good teacher. My presence in the classroom is at once formidable yet also friendly. I know, so deep in my core Read More

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present in the pain

Sometimes the stars align so that the same message is being whispered over and over into your ear, at just the right time. A divine echo. Saturday morning’s yoga class was one of those whispers. Led by a pregnant woman whose roundness in her belly was only rivaled by the curve of her carved biceps, she started class with the intention of being present. She shared that being in her second pregnancy lends itself to the tendency to want the carrying and labor part to be over to get to the “best part”–life with the child. But she explored the irony, that even Read More

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a classroom Thanksgiving

In the 1940’s, Maslow said it: full bellies + safe bodies + happy hearts + thriving self = engaged learning This week it popped up on my feed: respect given + respect received = engaged learning And Friday, it blossomed in my classroom: family potluck + words of gratitude = engaged learning Actually, I don’t know yet, for sure, with quantitative numbers and qualitative studies, if my Friday activity will result in engaged learning. But I just don’t care. Because it meant so much more. These words are the sentiments from the students after our Thanksgiving celebration as a classroom family. Read More

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the fault lines of leadership

For all of my career, I have sworn til I was blue in the face that I would not, could not, should not become an administrator. No sir-re-bob, that is not for me. After taking on more of a leadership role this year at school, that stance has only been confirmed. Though I was coaching last year and assisting another coach with our department, my leadership was, in essence, lateral. I’d like to believe that those I helped because of an official “title” were few, but those I helped because of a desire to be a great teacher were more–hopefully the Read More

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what I learned about facilitating while being a student

Recently I had the opportunity of attending the Advanced Placement Summer Institute just outside Seattle. 3 and 1/2 long days of non-stop seat time sure provides clarity on what and what not to do as a facilitator of learning–whether it be snotty little toddler students to scary big adult students. The facilitator’s preparation sets the tone for the entire learning experience. If frazzled, students will be rushed. If disorganized, students will be disengaged. If insecure, students will be rambunctious. If unintentional, students will be misguided. Some surefire ways to set a focused tone: a quality-crafted agenda with clear outcomes that are reviewed consistently; Read More

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from saddle to school: what riding reveals about teaching

I have had the soul-joy lately of reconnecting with my heart’s deepest passion: horses. For as long as I could remember, the mere glimpse of a horse brought my soul to its knees…a kind of divine whisper. Thanks to a God-placed friend, I have been partially leasing a tall and regal Saddlebred named Bruno. After I spend some time brushing the matted dirt out of his pinto coat, I lead him into the arena for some lunging and riding. For the first few times, I also received some training on how to best communicate with him; his owner, Nicole, would give Read More

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mantras for students

I get a lot of questions in my classroom. Miss, is this right? Miss, what page? Miss, can you check this? Miss, what do you think? But the question in my class that has brought me the most refreshment as of late is… Miss, can we meditate? Several weeks ago, I faced the big, bad giant Senioritis as he trolled through my student population. Since then, I have been setting space aside on a weekly basis in my class–if not daily–to lead my students in meditation. Sometimes I guide them. Sometimes I use an app. But either way, it is a few Read More

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when it all falls apart: on senioritis and mindfulness

I write often on this blog space about teaching…and a lot of it is a perky portrait of balloons and bubbles. Not today. Today those balloons and bubbles popped. After yet another constipated conversation of reluctant, low-level thinking from my AP Lit seniors, I drew the discussion to an end, dismantled the circle, and asked students to go to their desks and reflect. As a driven teacher, I refuse to waste class time. As a caring teacher, I refuse to not look behind and beyond the surface actions into why. Why are you so quiet? Why has the quality of your thinking decreased? What’s on Read More