Becoming a More Grateful Parent/Teacher

Regaining Gratitude This Thanksgiving by Madeleine Levine, PhD

Some good nuggets in here on modeling gratitude by living gratefully, patiently, kindly, & flexibly in front of children.

“I will remember the success trajectory is a squiggle … not a straight line. Few of us become successful by simply putting one foot in front of the other. Most of us encounter a multitude of twists, turns, direction changes, and stops on the way to our goals.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Children Want To Be Understood

notebookThis New York Times article, Helping Parents Deal With Learning and Attention Issues, gives an overview of a new ad campaign promoting the website The website is an incredibly useful resource for parents, and by extension educators, as we strive every day to understand children’s experience, make learning and growing accessible and engaging, and walk the balance between protecting our children/students and allowing them the valuable experiences of struggle, failure, and perseverance with an eye towards students who develop both quality intellect and excellent character. Our children and students move through a world that is largely organized, scheduled, structured, and geared towards adults. The website provides a multitude of resources in the areas of: brain research, learning & attention (executive functioning skills), friends & feelings (social emotional skills), and support systems for families. seeks to make the experience of different kinds of learners more transparent and accessible for parents and teachers so that we might better support and inspire the next generation.

What’s being a teacher really about?

An excellent and insightful article from the Huffington Post: What Dead Poets Society Taught Me About Being a Teacher

  1. It’s about relationships
  2. It’s about passion
  3. It’s about being YOU
  4. It’s about teaching life skills, too
  5. It’s about ALL kids

As we gear up for Opening Day 2014:

“Let’s remember that the most important thing we do as teachers is create a compassionate community for meaningful connection with students. It is our cultivated awareness, engagement, and authenticity that allow us to do this in our work with young people. Mr. Keating, and Mr. Williams, can live on in our classrooms.” – Sarah Ruddell Beach

Why don’t we settle this over a game of Horsh?

So I know MOST of my posts are education related with a smattering of adventure. One of my other passions is college hoops. And since my NCAA Men’s Tournament bracket is so totally busted it’s laughable…I thought I would share one of the best 30 second basketball-themed commercial spots of all time to promote more laughter that’s not directed at my team.


Why do the little stories matter?

Our society tolerates gross unfairness every day. It tolerates misogyny, racism and the callous indifference to those born without privilege.

I think that most of us are programmed to process the little stories, the emotional ones, things that touch people we can connect to. When it requires charts and graphs and multi-year studies, it’s too easy to ignore.

We don’t change markets, or populations, we change people. One person at a time, at a human level. And often, that change comes from small acts that move us, not from grand pronouncements.

Seth Godin

Teaching Coding Skills…& Much More


Here is a list of 7 apps that can be used to introduce and expand on computer program concepts for children of many ages. I have used and seen Hopscotch implemented with children as young as 6 and 7 years and it is equally engaging for adults. On top of programming/coding skills, these apps can assist with sequential thinking, cause & effect, planning, organization, and error analysis and revision: all key components of design-thinking.Image

Do you SAMR?

Pedagogy wheel for technology integration using the SAMR model

Pedagogy wheel for technology integration using the SAMR model

The SAMR Model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redesign) offers some insight into different ways that technology can support the engagement of learners, as well as a description of the process through which educators (who are generally digital immigrants versus the digital natives they teach) grow as they broaden and deepen their facility and comfort with new tools.

Substitution: Substituting technology for former tools with no functional change

Augmentation: Substituting technology with some functional improvement

Modification: Using technology for significant task redesign

Redesign: Using technology for new tasks that were previously inconceivable with former tools

The picture above uses common programs and apps to illustrate how these different descriptors of technology use play out in the classroom.

Smart Management

Education Week recently published an article (read it here) on common classroom management challenges. Though this article is explicitly about teachers and students, many of the principles for the development and implementation of successful classroom management skills can transfer to wisdom for parenting, managing adults, and working with others of all ages. I recommend reading the article for greater breadth and depth, but here is a summary.

Children (and adults) are most successful when…

  • Routines are consistent and clear. Routine is the foundation and framework of all the “meaty stuff” we want to fill our lives with.
  • Expectations (and the steps needed to meet them successfully) are detailed in small bites/chunks (rather than the fire-hydrant method).
  • There is the opportunity to practice, practice, practice successfully meeting expectations in isolation from other activities.
  • They plan ahead – for content of an experience, its delivery, and the movement of materials and people through it.
  • There is a clear understanding that STEERING is more effective than CONTROLLING people towards an end goal.
  • Reminders and redirection are delivered with tone and language (words and body) that is firm, fair, calm, and respectful.
  • A close awareness and observation of others is cultivated.
  • They are seen and known and KNOW IT, when they are acknowledged for successes and supported through failures they feel safe to take risks.
  • Their teachers/parents/leaders are present (physically and mentally) throughout their world and day.
  • Appropriate space for ownership over participation and feedback to be given is provided.
  • They don’t confuse the symptom of a frustrating event for the source. Misbehavior, mistreatment, and mistakes are often the presenting symptom of an underlying cause, which is what really needs addressing.

The above improves the development of thriving, rich, meaningful relationships, thinking, and learning between people – no matter their age.

Sparking Creativity & Encouraging Exploration

Check out some of the great things that are happening at Tuxedo Park School on the NAIS Inspiration Lab website!

Everything I Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten

The Power of Home Made Playdough

Deconstructing the Box

Growing Good People Through Service & Relationships

The Second Curriculum: An Un-Standardized Measure of Excellent Teachers

Teachers and administrators are settling into a rhythm for the new school year. We are planning and implementing lessons and thinking reflectively and responsively about student needs, providing for challenge and support, and relentlessly pursuing student engagement and achievement.

Traditional academic content lessons and activities take up a large portion of a child’s day at school. But there are also many in-between spaces, transitions between learning moments…lunches, recesses, breaks, etc. where talented teachers continue to exercise their skills in facilitating connections defined by care and developing children marked by strong character, academic achievement, and creative confidence.

Phillip Done says it better than anyone in this excerpt from his book Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind: Thoughts on Teacherhood. Read it. It gives life to the every-day sparkling moments of teaching that cannot, nor should ever be, scripted or planned or standardized.