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One billion years ago, I taught a third grader named Kaity to multiply.  Last night, as Elysha and I were leaving for a Moth StorySLAM in Somerville, I asked Kaity, now an adult and frequent babysitter to our children, to help my third grade daughter with her multiplication homework.  It was surreal.  No one ever…

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Attention politicians, policy wonks, educational advocates, professors of education, and anyone else who wants to have a say in education: “Every human being who wants to have an opinion of American education ought to spend some time as a substitute teacher.” – Nicholson Baker, the author of Substitute, who served as a substitute teacher for…

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My daughter and I pulled this book off her shelf last night, written by a former student named Maddie and given to Clara when she was born seven years ago. It’s been hiding in the back between other books.  My wife taught Maddie as well. One of those rare students who was blessed with having…

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Never, ever ask a woman if she is pregnant. Old people look weird but have lots and lots of good stuff to say. “I’m sorry. I made a mistake. I won’t do that again,” is always the best first response to any trouble you may be in. The people who make their dreams come true…

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The most common response to a piece I wrote last month entitled 12 Things Teachers Think But Can’t Always Say to Parents was a suggested addition to the list. It was phrased in many ways, oftentimes sarcastically, and it generally went something like this: Your child is not as gifted as you think he or…

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The 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Patrick Modiano, who had this to say about the writing process during his acceptance speech: Writing is a strange and solitary activity. It is a little like driving a car at night, in winter, on ice, with zero visibility. You have no choice, you cannot go…

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Parent-teacher conferences begin for me this week. I will sit down with parents and students and discuss academic progress, effort, behavior, and the students’ prospective futures in middle school and beyond. I like parent-teacher conferences. I have excellent relationships with the vast majority of my parents over the years, and in some ways, the parents…

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A student from my very first class, way back in 1999, sent me this photo. It’s actually a screen grab from a video that they were watching. It’s me, of course. I was probably 29 or 30 at the time. My first and only thought was this: How could anyone hire someone so young to…

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Yesterday was the two year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. On that day back in 2012, I sat down and wrote something. Then I filed it away. I felt like today was the right day to finally post it. _________________________________ An email from the principal alerts us that there had been…

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As the New Year approaches and the endless possibilities of the coming year loom on the horizon, I always like to take a moment and reset my current occupational status, in the event that you or someone you know will require my services in 2015. While occupations like teacher and writer seem like fairly obvious…

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