Friday, May 27, 2016

Consulteering — Kerry Hanon interviews Me for NYTimes

It all began when I was a member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) planning committee for the June 29, 2015 workshop "What's Next" Retirement and Beyond For Educators. That's when I met our keynote speaker author Kerry Hannon. I presented a session at the workshop, "Transition II: Consulting and Volunteering" Kerry attended the session and asked if I might be interested in being interviewed for a future New York Times article. I could not say "Yes" fast enough. Well, here is the article Kerry wrote — "Work a Little, Play a Little: A New Retirement Strategy."

Click over to Kerry's website to see and hear the good work she is doing. Here are a few of her most recent books:
• What's Next? Updated: Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties, and Beyond
Love Your Job: The New Rules for Job Happiness
Getting the Job You Want After 50 For Dummies

Friday, May 20, 2016

Avery's Transition From Home Schooling to School

Avery's transition from male to female began when she was four. Listen to this beautiful NPR story as told through her mother Debbie Jackson.

Friday, May 13, 2016

How to Make Stress Your Friend

Whether you are a teacher, student, or parent who has experienced stress at some point in your life, you will want to watch and hear Kelly McGonigal talk about how to make stress your friend.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Guiding Students Toward What They Might Like to Read

Found in this week's . . . 

“ 'Over my 40-year teaching career, I can vividly recollect three books that challenged my colleagues and me — Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Mathabane’s Kaffir Boy, and Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl series — in three different schools, each 10 years apart.'

Former Head of School Dane Peters writes from experience about one of every educator’s greatest challenges: making book recommendations when you have to balance what students like, what’s popular, and what parents think is appropriate. Also featured in the current issue of the online Independent Teacher magazine is thoughtful coverage on everything from teaching world religions to using the Socratic method.”

The NAIS Bulletin delivers timely news and links to resources about major issues affecting the independent school community. If your colleagues would like to receive the Bulletin, please have them email

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Value of Education

Found on the Internet recently . . .

A father told his 3 sons when he sent them to the university: "I feel it's my duty to provide you with the best possible education and you do not owe me anything for that. However, I do want you to appreciate it. As a token, please each put $1,000 into my coffin when I die."

And so it happened. His sons became a doctor, a lawyer and a financial planner, each very successful financially. When their father’s time had come and they saw their father in the coffin, they remembered his wish. First, it was the doctor who put ten $100 bills onto the chest of the deceased. Then, came the financial planner who also put $1,000 there.  Finally, it was the heartbroken lawyer's turn.   He dipped into his pocket, took out his checkbook, wrote a check for $3,000, put it into his father's coffin and took the $2,000 cash. He later went on to become a member of Congress…

Friday, April 22, 2016

Being Black

In Between the World and Me, the author Ta-Nehisi Coates uses the book to write a letter to his son. Here is a poignant excerpt that will give you a flavor of his passionate letter:

"It does not matter that the "intentions" of individual educators were noble. Forget about intentions. What any institution, or its agents, "intend" for you is secondary. Our world is physical. Learn to play defense—ignore the head and keep your eyes on the body. Very few Americans will directly proclaim that they are in favor of black people being left to the streets. But a very large number of Americans will do all they can to preserve the Dream." (page 33)

As soon as I reached page 30 of the book, my mind wandered to another book, Black Like Me (1961) by John Howard Griffen, which I read in college. It gave me a similar insight, albeit that was the late 60s and Coates wrote his book in 2015. Between the World and Me was a perfect follow-up book to Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (See my April 9th post).

Friday, April 15, 2016

How Do You Make a Teacher Great?

In this powerful TED Talk, among other topics, Bill Gates answers the question How do you make a teacher great? (second half of talk).

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Bryan Stevenson and EJI

I first met Bryan Stevenson when I saw his moving TED Talk—"We need to talk about an injustice," a Talk that has the longest standing ovation in TED history. That was back in 2012. I then saw him on 60 Minutes and again was moved. Most recently, I sat in the front row at the annual American Montessori Society conference when he spoke to 4,000 educators. Like his TED Talk audience, he received the longest standing ovation I have ever witnessed for a keynote speaker at this conference. You could see that he himself was visibly moved by those who demonstrated their appreciation for his profound message.

But, for me, it was reading his NYTimes bestselling book Just Mercy that helped me understand his message best. It is a powerful book. There were times when I did not want to finish the book because of the anguish, frustration, and overwhelming abuse he (and the people he represents) experience in his work over the past 30 years. Ultimately, he founded the organization, Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). Clicking to the website will give you an insight into his important work and message.

Coincidentally, this morning, one of the lead stories for NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday is "Chicago Murder Rate Spikes." which helps to explain the significance of Stevenson's work.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Parents Who Bully the School

From NAIS Independent School - Spring 2016

"Parents Who Bully the School" by Michael Thompson and Robert Evans is a lead article in the spring issue of Independent School magazine. When you look at their combined experience in consulting to over 2,000 schools, you know the authors have a perspective on schools and parents that is well worth reading. Here is an opening excerpt from the article . . .

“But every school we visit — every single one — reports more frequent and more severe problems with parents. In this article, we offer some thoughts about the roots and context of the general trend, but our focus is on coping with the small minority of the most difficult: those who bully the school. These parents are habitually rude or demanding or disrespectful, engaging in personal attacks on teachers and administrators, demeaning and threatening them. They repeatedly violate the school’s policies, values, and norms of conduct.”

For educators and parents to learn more, click on the article link.

Friday, March 25, 2016

9 Secrets to Public Speaking

If you enjoy watching the spread of ideas via TED Talks, do yourself a favor and read Talk Like TED, especially if you do presentations. Author Carmine Gallo draws upon many TED Talks to illustrate his 9 secrets to public speaking.

  1. Passion
  2. Stories
  3. Practice
  4. Teach the audience something new
  5. Creating jaw-dropping moments
  6. Humor
  7. It's all about the numbers
  8. Engage all the senses
  9. Stay in your lane (do what you do best)

Friday, March 18, 2016

Debate With Respect

As we roll through the political debate/banter quagmire, teachers and parents are perplexed by how to answer their children's questions about the behavior of our candidates.

"Debate With Respect" by head of school Susan Kambrich gives excellent perspective and advice on how we can do this with our children.

Friday, March 11, 2016


I first became intimately acquainted with the word resilience when I listened to Angela Duckworth's TED Talk.

If you have a similar interest, especially if you have or work with children, you will want to read Maria Konnikova's New Yorker article "How People Learn to Become Resilient." Here is how she begins the piece:

"Norman Garmezy, a developmental psychologist and clinician at the University of Minnesota, met thousands of children in his four decades of research. But one boy in particular stuck with him. He was nine years old, with an alcoholic mother and an absent father. Each day, he would arrive at school with the exact same sandwich: two slices of bread with nothing in between. At home, there was no other food available, and no one to make any. Even so, Garmezy would later recall, the boy wanted to make sure that “no one would feel pity for him and no one would know the ineptitude of his mother.” Each day, without fail, he would walk in with a smile on his face and a “bread sandwich” tucked into his bag."

Friday, March 4, 2016

5 Myths and Truths About Kids' Internet Safety

I came across "5 Myths and Truths About Kids' Internet Safety" by Caroline Knorr. I think you will find it helpful and enlightening. For example, here are the first and second myths and truths:

"Myth: Social media turns kids into cyberbullies.
Truth: There are many reasons why a kid might cyberbully, and social media is just a convenient way to do the dirty work.
The reality is that kids who engage in this behavior typically have something else going on that compels them to act out. They might be in crisis -- at home, at school, or otherwise socially. They may also be bullying in person, or they may have an underdeveloped sense of empathy. Awareness of a cyberbully's circumstances -- though not excusing the behavior -- can help parents and educators recognize the warning signs and potentially intervene before it goes too far.

Myth: Teaching kids not to talk to strangers is the best way to keep them safe online.
Truth: Teaching kids to recognize predatory behavior will help them avoid unwelcome advances."

Click on the article above, read the other three, and see if you agree.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Comparing Education in America to Other Countries

If you want some interesting insights into how America compares in education with Finland, France, and Slovenia; and at the same time be thoroughly entertained, check out Michael Moore's new movie "Where to Invade Next." When I saw it last week I laughed, applauded, and enjoyed hearing the rest of the audience do the same. It received a standing ovation at the end. How many movies have you seen that provokes that?

Friday, February 19, 2016

2016 Newbery & Caldecott Medal Winners

In case you missed them, here is the 2016 Newbery Medal winner book trailer . . .

and, here is the 2016 Caldecott Medal winner book trailer . . .

Friday, February 12, 2016

Kid Klassical Konsiderations

Here are some ideas to entice children — and adults for that matter — into appreciating classical music.

Classical composers were noted for humanizing instruments by having them represent bees, animals, scenes, and events. Here are four compositions that are perfect for having children hear instruments and "see" in their mind's eye living things and scenes. The first three classical pieces are linked to YouTube videos and the fourth video is embedded below.

"Flight of the Bumblebee" Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakof
"Carnival of the Animals" Camille Saint-Saens
"Pictures at an Exhibition" Modest Mussorgsky
"Peter and the Wolf" by Sergei Prokofiev

Friday, February 5, 2016

The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids

The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids” by Erika Christakis found in the The Atlantic Jan/Feb 2016 issue says so much about the education we are giving our preschoolers. Here are several quotes from the article, but if you value early childhood education — either as a parent or an educator — you should read the entire piece:
  • “But now that kindergarten serves as a gatekeeper, not a welcome mat, to elementary school, concerns about school preparedness kick in earlier and earlier.”
  • “The same educational policies that are pushing academic goals down to ever earlier levels seem to be contributing to—while at the same time obscuring—the fact that young children are gaining fewer skills, not more.”
  • “Starting in the early 2000s, though, a confluence of forces began pushing preferences ever further in the direction of preparation: the increasing numbers of dual-career families scrambling to arrange child care; a new scientific focus on the cognitive potential of the early years; and concerns about growing ability gaps between well-off and disadvantaged children, which in turn fueled the trend of standards-based testing in public schools.”
  • “Nearly three-quarters of American 4-year-olds are now in some kind of non-family care.”
  • “Having rejected many of the pseudo-academic benchmarks that can, and do, fit on a scorecard, preschool teachers in Finland are free to focus on what’s really essential: their relationship with the growing child.”
  • “Here’s what the Finns, who don’t begin formal reading instruction until around age 7, have to say about preparing preschoolers to read: ‘The basis for the beginnings of literacy is that children have heard and listened … They have spoken and been spoken to, people have discussed [things] with them … They have asked questions and received answers.’ "

Friday, January 29, 2016

The X, Y, Zs of Email

Isn't it interesting to see how email has evolved from Baby Boomers, to Generation X, and to Millennials (Generation Y). This Boomer remembers when he first began to really use email at Teachers College in 1994 when he was in a month-long program at the Klingenstein Center and was introduced to an email program called Pine. Then, he thought, "Hmmm, clever way to communicate with people."

By 2005, I wrote an article "A Head of Eeeeeshmail."  I believe it describes precisely what was going on with email at the time.

I hope that our newest generation — the Zs — will take control of this and help bring it all under control.

For now, check out this video and see if you can relate to what it is saying about email.