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arrival journal: days five through seven

It’s hard to believe today marks one week we’ve been living in Brazil! The past few days have been a whirlwind of continued professional introductions to the school’s systems as well as more delicious wining and dining. Wednesday’s orientation provided time for a Portuguese 101 class with one of the school’s most charismatic Brazilian teachers. Her wide smile lights up a room and her warmth makes anyone feel at ease. She taught us through lively action made even sweeter by a table of delicious local candies. I also had my “appointment” with the school’s doctor to make sure I was Read More

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arrival journal: day three

As I write this, I sit on my balcony enjoying the interplay of stars above and apartment lights around and headlights below. Dave and I just shared some conversation about our separate days’ experiences (the first we’ve been apart in awhile) on the balcony while sipping out of cherry blossom mugs the whiskey we packed into our overseas luggage. As you might be able to tell, I am in a much better place than yesterday. Today started with the first of many back to school alarm clock appointments followed by a meditation about going with the flow of life’s direction. Read More

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storytelling using mentor texts

Inevitably, every break brings time for reflection and renewal for teaching. What’s going well? What’s hurting the team? Over winter break, I found myself desperate for a reset in my classroom. Students didn’t even know each other’s names, much less stories; I was the bad guy without enough of the connection that grounds those high expectations; I was so busy trying to collaborate in an overwhelming amount of configurations that I lost my authentic teacher compass; I was buried in systematic behavior expectations that did not align with who I am…and that didn’t work. I felt like a failure…worst, I Read More

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take this job and shove it?: a tired teacher reflects on when enough is enough 

I don’t know how to write this post. Partially because on some level I feel like it’s already been written, but the act of putting words and phrases to secret utterances will make them reality lived instead of fear assumed. Partially because it’s been said before by countless other teachers…ex-teachers. Partially because this is not anybody’s fault who might be reading this. I have worked in 3 buildings that serve at-risk students, and in each of those places are stories of meaningful and authentic work that makes a difference. But, I must write it. For me. To breath. For the Read More

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Learning in Circles: Implementing Effective Socratic Seminars

An edited version of this post first appeared on Edutopia. “Socratic seminars help me understand other people’s perspective as well as advance my own through critical thinking…They have also helped me become a better leader by engaging my peers in the discussion through deepening questions.” ~BQ, class of 2016 One of my favorite moments as a teacher is when guests come into my classroom, and despite their best attempts to locate me visually and auditorily, they can’t. I am hidden quietly among the students, who are engaged in a student-led, high-level academic discussion. Throughout my nine years as a high Read More

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students vs. statistics: why I stay a teacher

On my way to work each day, looming above the newly-built-but-not-yet-operating-train-tracks is a billboard that declares: Unlimited Data Of course, it’s some advertisement for a phone company that offers all the access one could ever want to Facebook, Candy Crush, Snapchat, Twitter and Youtube. And then I walk through the door of my school, which is a representation of any public school in the American education system, and I hear the same message from above, around, and below: Unlimited Data Recently, a dear friend at another school told me a colleague counted somewhere around 27 days of assessment for their school Read More