Why become a teacher

Why We Teach

On the first day of my teaching career, I met a group of sixth graders who would give me my first master class on teaching. Caleb was one of those students: huge smile, artistic genius, winsome character. Caleb, his peers, and I were all new that year to Woodlawn Middle School in Baltimore, MD. What you have to realize […]

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The Mental Reset Button: Hit It

At some point last school year, you began a list called “Things I’ll Tackle Once School is Done.” Some of you said you’d revamp your curriculum, or read that one PD book you’ve been hearing about, or begin studying for that new course you’re teaching next year, or paint your classroom walls, or reorganize your […]

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$11,195 through Donors Choose: A Reflection on Generosity

During this past school year, a group of mostly strangers donated $4,197 of books to my classroom library (here’s the list). I didn’t earn a grant for this; I have no wealthy benefactors; and I didn’t ask for donations from readers of this blog or its social networks. No — I just asked for books on DonorsChoose.org, […]

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Defining Everest: A Reflection on the Challenges of Teaching

On May 29, 1953, the two men pictured above became the first human beings to set foot on Mount Everest. During their ascent, they battled weather, temperatures, ice, and odds, achieving a victory that many of their contemporaries considered humanly impossible. In this article, I seek not to diminish the accomplishments of Hillary (above left) and […]

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May Forward: Making the Most of a Hard Month for Teachers

May is usually a hard month for me as a teacher. I’m exhausted. Of the year’s mountain-tops and canyon-bottoms, in May it’s the low, dark places that seem realest. I’ve succeeded beyond what I’ll ever know with some kids, yet with some, I know I’ve failed. I haven’t reached them; I haven’t been The One Teacher whose work flips […]

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6 Mindsets of Excellent Educators

If you wander through my school, you’ll see numerous examples of teacher excellence. One of our best educators is stern, intense, rarely cracking a smile; another is warm, inviting, and deeply relational; still another is peppy, exuberant, bubbling over with enthusiasm. Each of them are excellent teachers, and I’d argue that their excellence is something separate […]

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