Names and Invisibility

On the first day of my 12th grade British Literature class, I chose a seat in the front row. The teacher had a great reputation and I wanted to be right up front in what I hoped would be a great class. The teacher asked each of us to say our names. When I said…

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Teachers and Magicians

Sometimes good teaching looks like magic. But like many things, it’s the result of intentionality, planning, practice and effort – all things that are invisible to the eye of the student or the classroom visitor. I spend a lot of time thinking about what goes into good teaching. What might surprise you is that I’ve…

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Responding to Donald Trump

The day after the recent presidential election, I faced class after class of students who were scared and outraged about the election of Donald Trump as the next president. My students are largely immigrants or the children of immigrants. Throughout the campaign they had heard Trump say hurtful and hateful things about Mexicans, women, Muslims,…

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Beyond “Behavior Intervention” – Classroom Discipline For Teachers

When I was a new teacher, my principal gave me a 768-page book called Behavior Intervention Manual.  It contained hundreds of strategies for changing students’ troublesome behavior. “Does it have all the answers?” I asked the principal.   “Just read it,” she said.   As if.   Fortunately I found something better. Connecting with Students,…

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Reflecting On Your Teaching Practice – 4 Painless Tips

Imagine you had a fairy godmother who could tell you – in advance – exactly where your lesson plan was going to go wrong. Or exactly where you could make a little tweak or hack, that would transform your fine (or mediocre) lesson into something truly powerful.  Or even give you guidance that would cut…

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Gratitude Makes Us Feel Good

When I was a new teacher, I needed a lot of support. I didn’t have much to offer in return. It felt terrible to be constantly in need. Then I discovered the power of gratitude. Thank goodness my school climate has improved dramatically, but when I began teaching in 2003, it was a hard place…

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