An Open Letter to Myself: Don’t Give Up

Twenty-four of my students are failing. Only two are passing. They are failing in the grade book. They are failing in mastering content. They are failing in overcoming the abyss of apathy that is a characteristic of the students I teach. And, because of this, I am failing. I have tried dozens of techniques and…

Three Questions Worth Asking

The following is adapted from a 2014 National Honor Society induction speech I was asked to give to the students of Plainwell High School. Read on ’til the end for a personal challenge.   ————————————– There’s a saying in education: “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.”  Have you heard this before?  I think…

With Trepid Hearts We Step: Overcoming the Thorn of Change

In troves of tromping feet, students and educators begin yet another school year this month.  With the advent of another academic year, there will be loud cries from citizens, educators, researchers, and politicians about all the changes that need to be made in education.  Students need to change.  Teachers especially need to change.  Administrators? Please change. We…

Going beyond grades: Why we HAVE to do better.

What do you think is the lowest G.P.A. I need in order to get into a good retirement home — one of those fancy ones with never-ending soft serve ice cream and Jeopardy tournaments in the common area?  How many gold stars do you think I need in order say, “I’m happy”?  Oooh, most importantly,…

Dear Kill-Joy, Take a Breather.

Glance around your classroom, or house, or job. If you work with groups of kids, chances are you’ll notice some things. – You will notice one kid picking his nose. Hard. If he’s older, he may be trying to hide it. Under 10 years old and he is proudly showcasing his gold. Regardless, no nose…

Four-Horsemen of the Motivational Apocalypse

NOPE!  N.O.P.E.  I refuse.  I won’t.  I don’t want to.  I can’t.  These are the words we teachers loathe to hear, yet seem to hear on the daily.   Lack of motivation (amotivation) is one of our greatest plagues on the individual, educational, and societal level.  What contexts cause it? And, is there anything we…

The “L” Word: Education’s greatest disease (and no, it’s not Lupus)

Hundreds of yawning, red-eyed students are crammed in pairs, stretching the school gym.  A dull hum, like distant locusts, murmurs the space as pencils scratch hundreds of little bubbles.  It’s state-test day, and there is an air of anxiety among more than just the students.  We teachers have one thought on our mind: “How are…

What Students Really Need to Hear

It’s 4 a.m.  I’ve struggled for the last hour to go to sleep.  But, I can’t.  Yet again, I am tossing and turning, unable to shut down my brain.  Why?  Because I am stressed about my students.  Really stressed.  I’m so stressed that I can only think to write down what I really want to…