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Belonging in a School Community

Frank Lloyd Wright built houses that grew out of the land where they were located. His homes were of the hill, not on it. He once wrote the following: I...

Honoring Student Identity

It is rare that I take time out from professional reading for books I don’t intend to put in the hands of my sixth graders. Most of the time, if...

A Student Book of Awesome

What do working on trucks, potatoes, and Christmas morning have in common? They are all things deemed “awesome” by my students and are forever commemorated in the official “Second Period...

Building Writer Relationships with Author Studies

“Could you announce that it is Dav Pilkey’s birthday today?” The second graders’ earnest request in my office was met with an “Of course!” from me. Pilkey’s birthday announcement was...

Engaging Students with Humor

“This class is the reason that I come to school in the morning.” I asked Jessica to tell me more about that statement. “This class makes me feel like I...

Digital Interactive Read Alouds

Something we’ve been trying with teachers in the last few months is digital interactive read alouds. During the digital read aloud, we watch a short film with students and use...

Issues Overload

One of my favorite books from childhood was Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary, published in 1955. Beezus lives an almost idyllic life in a loving home on Klickitat Street....

Choice in Literacy Workshops

Early in the school year, I came across this message posted on social media by Donalyn Miller: Unpopular opinion of the day: If your students don’t have any autonomy or...

Using Photographs in Remote Learning Communities

It is amazing how cameras and photographs have evolved with technology.  I can remember days when I had to remember to bring my camera to school, take some pictures, drop...

Three Things Digital Tools Have Taught Me About Feedback

No digital platform is an effective instructional tool unless I am thoughtful about how I use it to give and receive feedback. As a middle school language arts teacher, I...

“Who I Am” Early in the Year

ARTICLE: Tara Barnett and Kate Mills start with the poem “Where I’m From” to build community through literacy at the start of the year. VIDEO: Katie Doherty leads her sixth-grade...

Sustaining (Not Just Building) Community Online

Some teachers had spent a wonderful day with me exploring instructional possibilities for using tools (i.e., Flipgrid, Kialo, Padlet) to meet, poll, see, and connect with our students as thinkers...

Fact or Fiction?

Surely if alternative facts are untrue they should be called Ficts?                                                                Alan Dapre “Did you read that in nonfiction?” It was early February, and our fourth graders were learning...

Routines for Building Gratitude

It was a particularly dreary northwest winter morning. It had rained all night, and as I hustled to the car to leave for school, I notice puddles of standing water...

Management and Middle School Workshops

I had the class gathered around the screen at the front of the room. I was going for a coach’s-huddle sort of feel, hoping they would all lean in and...

Call Me by My Name

Sometimes we forget. We forget that middle schoolers don’t wake up on school days and start plotting their teachers’ demise. We forget that second graders aren’t being naughty when they...

Everyday Celebrations and Traditions

I was working at a table in the hall outside my classroom. I got the treat of not only noticing everyone who walked down the hall as they slowed down...

Making Our Writing Public

About 10 years ago I reached out to the Farnum Writing Center at Colby College and asked if they would like to partner with our student writers and respond to...

Letting Go in the Remote Learning World

Having 72 hours to shift from face-to-face instruction toward online, remote learning challenged me in unexpected ways. Just when I thought I knew how to be a principal, I got...

Don’t Force Vulnerability

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.                                                                                       Brené Brown I found myself among a group of moms who were complaining about their kids’ homework assignments. I...

Creating a Safe Space in Middle School

I have never felt more uncomfortable as a professional than I did this past summer in a session led by Chad Everett at the Lead Learners Summer Institute. That session...