PodcastPodcastDo the Write Thing: Working to Stop Violence Through Writing

Editor’s Note: Hear more about this program from Executive Director Basma Rayess in our #anewkindofPD podcast episode found on iTunes and Stitcher.

Michael had suffered for years as the result of his mother’s alcoholism. A teacher encouraged Michael to participate in a program where students could write about their experiences with violence. Michael wrote a powerful poem describing the disappointment, anger, and fear he felt with the situation, but he had no intention of having his mother read it. However, he needed a parental signature so he showed it to his mother with great trepidation. When she read it, she was silent, but something tremendous happened. The poem helped his mother make a commitment to get sober and she has been so ever since.
Read more

If A Teacher Were To Build An App . . .

There’s an urban legend in education that says new teachers will begin their careers as “roamers,” or traveling teachers, in overcrowded high schools. I suppose I was an anomaly. I had my own, beautiful classroom for my first year of teaching, but the glory was short lived. I became a “roamer” in my second year. Traveling to five different classrooms — one for each passing period — isn’t exactly thrilling. Needless to say, I was very disappointed to be displaced.

Was I really going to let this little setback ruin my year? Of course not!

Rather than looking at my new situation as a problem, I used this experience as an opportunity to try something brand new; something completely outside the box. I would redefine classroom. I would build a mobile app — a “mobile classroom” to fill the void.

Read more

Big Ideas Need Big Spaces: Creating Room for Teacher Voice and Choice

Getting Better Together

The life of an instructional coach is a balancing act. On the one hand, you are still a teacher. You still plan lessons, they’re just called agendas. You still assess the effectiveness of your instruction, but now refer to the process as follow-up professional development sessions. On the other hand, you are a part of the instructional leadership team with the assistant principals and principal of the school. You have “crossed over” to the other side, to use teacher parlance.


This straddling of two perspectives can help you craft initiatives for great teaching that work for both teachers and the instructional leadership team. The beauty of this duality is that it allows teachers and leaders to work together to determine what the initiatives will be. The improvement of teaching is best realized when teachers are involved in the conversation, rather than summoned to the table. Here are four ways I’ve worked with teachers and administrators to create room for teacher voice and collaboration:

Read more

800,000 Strong!

Celebrating 800,000 TeachersAs we ring in the new year, let me take this opportunity to introduce myself and to share some wonderful news.

First, the news: Teaching Channel – that is to say, you, the vibrant community of teachers, coaches, mentors, and educators of all stripes that comprises Tch — just topped the 800,000-member milestone and continues to grow each day!

This number represents to me not just the individuals across the country and around the world who call Teaching Channel a professional home. It also represents a validation of our mission to open classroom doors, through high-quality video, so that teachers can share practice, inspire and learn from one another, and, in the end, get better together. Read more

Great Teaching with Strong Support: Teams and the Bellingham Promise

“We believe all children should be loved.” This is the first statement in our list of core beliefs, The Bellingham Promise, in Bellingham Public Schools. It’s exciting to work in a place where this isn’t just an underlying belief supporting the work we do; it is stated, visible, and public. The Promise is rooted in this vision: “We, as a community, make a collective commitment to Bellingham’s children. We will empower every child to discover and develop a passion, contribute to their community, and achieve a fulfilling and productive life.” Our collective commitment to Bellingham’s children, to ALL our children, drives our work daily. In addition to connecting our students’ learning opportunities with state and national standards, our educators are constantly asking the question, “How does what we’re doing support the Promise?”

Read more

Can Teachers Be Leaders from Their Classrooms?

How many times have you heard yourself say, “Don’t TELL me what you know, SHOW me what you understand.” For humans to learn, Richard Elmore points out in his research that they need “encouragement and support, access to special knowledge, time to focus on the requirements of the new task, [and] time to observe others doing it.” Educators know the power of learning together. Yet, teaching is such an isolated profession; we go into our classrooms, shut the door, and then magical things happen from within our four walls. Outsiders rarely see. Our administration and district leaders catch little glimpses of the “magic,” and in an attempt to share our bag of tricks, they ask us to participate in Professional Learning Communities. Talking just isn’t enough, and in our profession we don’t have systems in place for us to “see” one another in action. I’d like this to change. What if we could share more effectively? What if I could see what cool things are happening in my friend’s classroom next door and never have to write sub plans?


Read more

Life Begins At the End of Your Comfort Zone: Evaluating and Growing Culturally Proficient Schools

I always challenged myself to be outside of my comfort zone as an educator. I thought I’d seen most everything during my 30 years tenure in public education in Colorado as a teacher, principal, and literacy coordinator. That was until I retired from Colorado and moved to Alaska for a change. Goodbye comfort zone!

Here in Alaska, like most other states in the nation, change occurs continuously in education as well as in most other aspects of our lives. However, changes in Alaska reflect some facts of which most people are unaware.

Read more

It’s a Different Mountain Every Day: Getting Started with Video of Teacher Practice

“Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it.” —Seth Godin

In the new documentary Meru, there’s a scene where Conrad Anker, world renowned leader of the Meru Mountain climbing expedition, opens up his sketchbook to show the rest of his team a meticulously hand drawn diagram of the optimal route up the Shark Fin, the most technically challenging and dangerous peak in the Himalayas. As the team scrutinizes the sketch, and the camera pans up to reveal the staggering enormity of the peak and the ever shifting wind and snow patterns along the route, you realize that no map can adequately prepare the team for the trip they’re about to embark on. A map implies that its subject will remain static, and a mountain can — and will — change its form and shape at any time without warning. To be successful on the journey, the team will have to learn to function, in the words of Brenè Brown, as both mapmakers and travelers, every step of the way.


Read more