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Rethinking Homework

Paul Janeczko’s poems are some of my favorites to share with students when I am introducing a poetry unit. I am sad that he passed away recently. Publishers Weekly published...

What Do We Mean by Coachable?

My youngest son recently tried out for and earned a spot on a travel basketball team. As we mused about what being on the team would entail (how many practices,...

What Happens Next Is What Defines Us

My own children have been my greatest teachers. For me, one of the most challenging aspects of parenting has been to help pick them up after a disappointing event in...

Tackling Coaching Challenges

One of Merriam-Webster's dictionaries defines a nemesis as a "formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent." As a literacy coach, I find that my biggest nemesis is professional development. I...

Aligning Commercial Practices with Excellent Literacy Instruction

“So, what are you guys using for literacy?” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked that as a school principal. It’s not a bad question or something...

The Hole in Your Swing

I am a baseball fan. I played the sport through high school, spent a couple of years riding a bench in college, and now enjoy it mostly from the confines...

Clearing the Plate: Helping Teachers Feel Free, Not Full

“David,” she said, “I’m so sorry. I just can’t do our session today.” Her tired expression, slumped shoulders, and weak voice had told me that already. “Don’t worry about it,...

Becoming More Strategic in Coaching Stressed Teachers

Suddenly, I’m a momma to big kids. It caught me off guard and I’m still wondering how it happened, because I'm sure I didn’t blink. In addition to looking up...

The Third Rail: Coaching and Instructional Assessment

As I reflected with Joy about our recent coaching cycle, we looked back to our original goals and the pre- and post-data about her students' work. We had seen more...

Know Their Story

Sally was a veteran teacher. That’s what I was told. She’s one of our vets. As a younger educator, I had heard that phrase several times to describe teachers who...

Ms. Perfectly Nice

We all know that teacher. The one who is agreeable, pleasant to work with, quiet, and perfectly nice. Heck, I think I’ve even been that teacher. I have sat in...

Whenever They Are Ready: Building Trust for PD Success

It’s a paradox of school leadership that we generally know what we need to do to ensure every student is successful, yet we fight with each other and within ourselves...

I’m Already Doing This

I glanced up from my notebook where I was taking notes and smiled at the teacher sitting next to me. She didn’t smile back. I bent my head back down...

Resisting Traditional Definitions of Productivity

The first day back at school after spring break felt like stepping on a treadmill at full speed. Testing season was upon us, a school recognition application was due, and...

Fail to Learn

We perform for ourselves, often the harshest of audiences.                                                                          Thomas Newkirk I think every teacher has a grade level or subject area they would prefer not to teach. I...

Talking in Front of Peers

Lately I have been doing a good deal of speaking and presenting to other educators at various conferences, and more frequently I’ve spoken or presented in front of my large...

A Change in the Weather: Moving from Teacher to Coach

There’s a joke among midwesterners that if you don’t like the weather, just wait a day and it will change. Living in northern Indiana, we see the full gamut of...

Leadership Shifts

Every year about this time, I spend several hours finalizing supplemental contracts. In my district, teachers who take on leadership roles in specific curricular areas are paid a small stipend...

To Celebrate or Not

February and March are two important months for learners. Except they’re all important, aren’t they? Which pretty much sums up my conflict with Black History Month and Women’s History Month,...

Getting Emotional

Although I aspire to be a leader who is always strong, stoic, and sensible, I occasionally succumb to the emotional toll of my job. At least once a year, it...

Do or Die

Don’t be shy about asking for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’re strong. Last spring, a panic-stricken teacher I have worked with informally entered my office. His...