Category Archives: Personal Best

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 an ordinary life: Encyclopedia Part II

Remembering Dates I share a birthday with Ludwig van Beethoven, December 16. That’s probably why, when I want to play classical music on my Amazon Echo I normally ask,  “Alexa,  play my Pandora Beethoven station.”   Of course Beethoven is awesome, … 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 energy: Loving the mannequin challenge

Any middle school teacher knows that one of the most exciting but challenging aspects of the job is the frenetic pace of life with the kids here. The executive function portion of the adolescent brain, the part that slows things down so we don’t make poor decisions, hasn’t fully developed. As a consequence, middle school kids seem to be operating at 78 rpm while the rest of us are at 45rpm. The engines in their brains have more acceleration than brake.
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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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About professional development: EdCamp is the better way!

Here’s a confession, I’ve been responsible for some pretty horrible professional development (PD).  When I think about the faculty meetings I ran when I was a new principal, I am embarrassed.  Often, my faculty meetings were the Don Gately Show. … Continue reading

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About Muhammad Ali: Let your kids rebel … a little

Our most enduring memories are forged during our middle school years.  I was very saddened by the passing this year of former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali.  I feel like I grew up with Ali.    I was ten when The Fight … Continue reading

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About a song: What does it “mean”?

This was only a brief snapshot of a terrific learning moment but I promised myself I would share what I observed because, at our school, we are all LEARNERS! Thanks Bess! Continue reading

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About my #OneWord: Nurture

My one word for 2016 is Nurture, as in relationships. For 2016 my goal is to reflect more on and devote greater energy to the relationships I have with everyone in my life… One of the most powerful mentors in … Continue reading

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