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Telling Our Stories

Ruth Shagoury and Andie Cunningham beautifully weave together poetry and storytelling in a potent professional development activity for teachers.

Trying to Coach Without the Budget in Mind

Melanie Quinn makes a somewhat surprising discovery in the midst of the budget cutting season.  The best way to justify her literacy coaching position is to do less – but do everything extraordinarily well.

When You Hate the Book

Abandoning a text isn't always an option (in school or life). Clare Landrigan considers her own experience as a reader and applies those lessons to the classroom.

A Bad Case of the Never-Ending Januaries

With a tough winter and tougher budget prospects, many schools will be dealing with the Januaries straight through March.  Our contributors have suggestions for dealing with stress, fatigue, and depression to help renew and re-energize your work.

Harbinger

Shirley McPhillips draws parallels between a tentative, battered robin in the snow and the fragility of teachers in the spring.

Letting Go After Holding on Tight: Reflecting on the Last Days of School

Andrea Smith writes about how our instincts as parents and teachers merge to make it so hard to say goodbye at the end of the school year.

Best Practices All Day Long: Balancing Personal and Professional Success

If you’ve ever experienced that disequilibrium of feeling completely organized in your professional life, and hopelessly scattered during your personal time, you’ll enjoy Melanie Quinn’s reflective essay.

Lady With the Yellow Umbrella


In this poem, Shirl McPhillips writes about "learning better how to live" while finding peace and purpose in the midst of adversity.

Motive, Means, and Opportunity

When educators have literacy-rich environments at home, it is important to consider students' daily access to reading materials. Ellie Gilbert uses motive, means and opportunity to think about our literacy landscapes.

On Compassion

You’re a sucky teacher!”  How would you respond if a student hurled those words at you? Katie Baydo-Reed  shares a deeply honest and personal account of the year early in her career when she developed a corrosive relationship with her students, and what she learned from the experience about compassion.

Along Saplines

A poem and reflection to lift your spirits if you have the late-winter blues.

An Uncommon Place

A mulberry tree crashes during a blizzard, creating a surprisingly lovely mental space for Shirl McPhillips to craft her poem.

Make it Personal

The connections we make with students and families are what we remember most when all is said and done. Trish Prentice has thoughts on what changes a respected teacher into a beloved teacher.

Now is Our Season

Shirl McPhillips so eloquently captures the spirit of the light and dark, hopeful and ambivalent, quiet and purposeful time after the holidays in this poem.

Days Ease

"Some people suggest that in summer's ease, we have the time to rethink our curriculum, to read and select books we want to use next year, to consider how we will begin again in the fall, to get better organized. Yes, we do. And, yes, we could. But somehow just thinking about all that makes me tired." If you couldn't agree more with these words from poet Shirl McPhillips, you are sure to enjoy this poem.

Cap’n George: Mentors Who Matter

Shirley McPhillips finds the mentoring that helps her most as a poet includes principles that are useful in any teaching situation.

A Three-legged Dog and a Show About Nothing

If you've resolved this year to keep up with your own writing journal so that you can share the good, bad, and ugly of your process with students, you'll enjoy Jennifer Jones' inspirational and practical new piece.

Learning from Coaching Mistakes

Inventors understand that early prototypes inform them best about what doesn't work rather than what does. But what about when prototypes are people? Heather Rader reflects on risk-taking, failure, and learning as a literacy coach.

If We Could Meet Again

Shirl McPhillips captures perfectly the "shaking off the old classroom skin" feel of the start of the summer. Shirley's commentary encourages teachers to use time away from students  "to break out, free up, go someplace, and cast off the trappings."

Restless Wanderer: Lessons for Teachers from Summer Vacations

Are teachers ever really on vacation?  In “Restless Wanderer” Shelly Archer ponders moments on a holiday that aren’t much fun, and can’t help but connect them to teaching struggles.

More Teaching Metaphors

Ruth Shagoury considers her struggles with "beginner's mind" in yoga and mountain biking, and what they can both teach her about students who are struggling with any new learning.

Swimming and Learning

Mary Lee Hahn uses her experience as a swimmer to take another look at standards.

If Boot Camp Was Standards-Based

Franki Sibberson's article this winter linking her learning from fitness boot camp to working with struggling readers was one of our most popular features ever. Here she provides a follow-up to share new lessons from bootcamp in a standards-based world.

Lessons from My Summer Vacation

Erin Ocon finds it's hard to let go of her planning and perfectionism as she rewrites her goals for the summer. In "Lessons from My Summer Vacation," she discovers the process of changing her summer plans makes her rethink her classroom goals.

Bucking Broncs and Spitting Bulls

Andie Cunningham finds a rodeo reminds her of the opening days of school, and how timed assessments can cloud our vision of students early in the year.

Models, Coaches, Shepherds, or Rock Stars? Our Reading Roles in the First Few Weeks of School

Cheerleader? Shepherd? Rock Star? Coach? Andrea Smith considers her changing reading “roles” early in the school year as she tries to build a classroom community that shares her passion for literacy.

On Not Fretting

Kelly Petrin’s meditation phrase for the day—Do not fret; it only leads to evil—guides her through a home visit with a parent who worries about her daughter’s literacy skills. This is a terrific short read for thinking through how to make encounters with parents less stressful.

The Porch in August: Letting It Be

Shirl McPhillips reminds us "in the face of all that tugs at us from the past and from what's to come, we can step into the moments of the day with our students and take pleasure in what we find there." Such wise words for any time we need to hit the pause button in our lives.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Recommending Yourself

Suzy Kaback asks her students to write letters of recommendations for themselves, and finds the activity ripples across the school mentoring community. This exercise is a terrific catalyst for creating personal improvement plans.

Helping Aaron Find His Voice as a Writer…and Mine as a Teacher

Erin Ocon tries a new strategy for dealing with a resistant student in her middle school classroom.

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