The 9 Types of People Ruining Your School Email

I love 5% of the “reply all” emails I get at school. Wait . . . I hate 100% of the “reply all” emails I get at school. I only love the 5% of reply alls that get hijacked by my smart ass colleagues who turn them into jokes. Take the day we got notice…

Stop the Blame Game: Teaching Students to Take Ownership

A second grader made me cringe the other day. I visited my wife’s class and a girl was showing the class her pictures from a recent soccer tournament. Someone asked how her team did. Her response? “We got second place. BUT, we actually should have gotten first because the other team cheated and the refs…

What it’s like to be a kid with OCD (and what teachers can do to help)

One of my greatest thrills is helping my students share their experiences, their passions, and their lessons in writing.  So, I’m geeked to share the following post my student, Bailee Rieman, wrote for WeAreTeachers.  Check it out. What It’s Like to Be a Kid With OCD by Bailee Rieman “I don’t want to live anymore.” I said…

[VIDEO] Is Teaching Worth It?

For all the great educators I’ve met, including those who are soon to lend their passion and talents to the field. Please share this with an educator you know! Huge gratitude to Kevin Romeo, Daniel Juan Martinez and the whole RHINO MEDIA PRODUCTIONS team, as my student volunteers.

Why I have faith in American educators: I see America teaching

Traveling always strengthens and reaffirms my faith in teachers across America.  Read on for a reflection I wrote for WeAreTeachers during a recent stint to work with a small village in Alaska. For years I’ve been teaching. For these same years I’ve been exposed to conversations about teachers in America. Each day I hear people talk about what…

What Kills Student Motivation? We Asked Them.

“What are your thoughts on student motivation?” my principal recently asked. Knowing that I have an interest in motivation, as well as a love of working with at-risk students, he wanted to know my thoughts on why our achievement gap wasn’t narrowing. As a teacher, I of course had many thoughts. But, the many thoughts…

A Graduation that Taught Me About Student Resilience

My favorite event of the school year is graduation. But it’s not the graduation you are picturing. I love the graduation ceremony of our local alternative high school, the kind of school at which many teachers scoff. You know the one: filled with the “problems” and misfits that weren’t smart enough, motivated enough, good enough…

Don’t Smile ’til Christmas: A Teacher’s Worst Advice

When I first started teaching, I actually gave stock to the garbage of an educational aphorism, “Don’t smile until Christmas.” I remember thinking, “I’m young . . . I look even younger. I need to lay down the hammer early so kids don’t mess with me.” And there I was, reading the syllabus with a…

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…

To Teach or Not to Teach: Is it Worth the Money?

The voice comes from the center of your chest. “You should become a teacher.” As it settles in, warm and satisfying, a counter-voice calls from the surface of your brain: “Are you sure you want that as a career? I mean, is it worth it?” For you, this question, with its conflicting answers, hovers, a haunting phantom of past,…

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…