Sunday, August 21, 2016

Optical Illusions Revisited . . . Again

My last post on optical illusions was posted on December 19, 2014.

To those of you — and your students — who appreciate optical illusions, here's one for you. Be sure to watch it all the way to the end.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Great Minute on Empathy and Bullying

Watch Emily Bazelon's excellent one minute take on empathy and bullying.

For more insights from Bazelon, check out her book

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Power of Habit

If you have not read Duhigg's bestseller yet, find the time to read it or at least see the TEDx Teachers College talk below, which is taken from the appendix of the book. The book is an excellent read.

Here is a good synthesis from the author of the book:

"As a result, this book doesn't contain one prescription. Rather, I hoped to deliver something else: a framework for understanding how habits work and a guide to experimenting with how they might change. Some habits yield easily to analysis and influence. Others are more complex and obstinate, and require prolonged study. And for others, change is a process that never fully concludes." (pgs. 275-76)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Leadership in a Tweet

I had the pleasure last week to teach a class of heads of school and principals on leadership. When I asked them to tweet me what leadership means to them, here is what I received from several members of the class:
  • Being a value-based person with a clear direction willing to be joined by and support others.
  • The art of assisting others in developing and applying their skills for the good of others.
  • A proposed cycle: listen, observe, analyze, communicate, serve, empower, protect, host, nurture, encourage, rest, play and repeat.
  • Engaging others in the actualization of core values in the service of a higher purpose.
  • Attend. Listen. Observe. Consider. Connect. Engage. Decide. Inspire. Nudge. Assist. Reflect. Adjust. Celebrate. Translate. Share. Step aside
  • Inspiring others to do more and to be more.  A true leader leads by example and fosters leadership in others.
  • Serving others; taking responsibility for other’s well-being & growth; willing to learn from others; & having the courage to forge new path.
Such good tweets.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Reading to Preschools — a Delight

While I was reading The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna to a class of preschoolers, I turned the last page, ended the book, and smiled at their joy of hearing this wonderful story.

Immediately, a five-year old child raised her hand and said, “It seems to me that there is one more page to the book.” I smiled and said, “Hmm, let’s check to see.” To everyone’s delight, I did forget to turn to the very last page, and we all had a good laugh.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Caring For the Head of a School

For those of you who are a head of school, trustee, teacher, or parent, you might be interested in reading about caring for the head of school. Here is an article I wrote, "Care of the Head" and below is a webinar, "Caring for Your Head." Both the article and webinar can be especially helpful to school boards and school owners.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Be it a family, a classroom, a school, or a larger community, Sebastian Junger's latest book Tribe has so much to say about building lasting, purposeful communities—small and large—and humanity. This is particularly important as we reflect on the shootings in Minnesota and Dallas.

One of my favorite excerpts from this short and powerful book is basic advice he quotes from the George Washington Law Review, a 2015 survey of more than 6,000 lawyers.

“. . . human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do, authentic in their lives, connected to others." (From pages 21-22)

Here is a seven minute interview with Junger on the PBS NewsHour:

Friday, July 1, 2016

Reading to Children is for the Child AND the Adult

Listening to Sherman Alexie's interview on Tuesday night's PBS News Hour, he talked about his newest book — a children's book — Thunder Boy Jr..

In the interview, he states "Well, the big thing is, you spend — probably you want the book to be about 70 percent for the kid and about 30 percent for the adult reading to the kid." I immediately thought of how the TV hit series The Simpsons is written to appeal to young people AND adults.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Lessons in Grandparenting

Even though the title of Lesley Stahl's book is Becoming Grandma, grandpas will learn a lot from the wisdom, experience, interviews, and research presented by this charming, smart journalist . . . and grandma. Also, the parents of the grand children will learn lessons, especially the in-laws—mother-, father-, daughter-, and son-.

Here are a few excerpts from among many, many lessons presented:

"In fact, it appears that we humans are at our unhappiest in our late thirties and forties. We bottom out in our early fifties, then keep getting happier through our sixties and seventies and even beyond, until disability kicks in."

"Relationships with grandfathers usually grow stronger as children age. Kids tend to prefer Gramma at first, but then things even out."

"It reminds me me of something Tom Brokaw said: 'For parents, bribery is a white-collar crime; for grandparents, it's a business plan!' "

"I used to think life had four necessities: food, oxygen, love and friendship. Now I know there's a fifth: purpose."

Here is the book trailer:

Friday, June 10, 2016

Independent Teacher - Latest Edition

Click over to the latest edition of NAIS's Independent Teacher online magazine — for teachers and by teachers.

From the Editor, Stan Izen

"We sometimes forget about the importance of allowing students to be themselves, that one of our primary jobs as teachers is to promote the development of individual personalities, to make space for idiosyncrasies. . ."

Friday, June 3, 2016

Great Grit Resources

Angela Duckworth has made a name for herself with one word: Grit. After reading her first book and seeing her TED Talk, I am convinced that she has been on to something for a long time. Here are two quotes from her book:

"Together, the research reveals the psychological assets that mature paragons of grit have in common. There are four. . . and they tend to develop over the years, in a particular order.
  • Interest
  • Practice
  • Purpose
  • Hope" (pg. 91)
"If you want to bring forth grit in your child, first ask how much passion and perseverance you have for your own life goals. Then ask yourself how likely it is that your approach to parenting encourages your child to emulate you. If the answer to the first question is 'a great deal,' and your answer to the second is 'very likely,' you're already parenting for grit." (pg. 216)

I highly recommend her book, and you may want to check out these recent gritty articles.

"Is Grit Overrated?" by Jerry Useem [The Atlantic]

"Is 'grit' overrated in explaining student success? Harvard researchers have a new theory." by Jeffrey J. Selingo [The Washington Post]

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.