Friday, July 16, 2021

Humankind: A Hopeful History

If you want a better understanding of where we — humans — are in getting along with one another, read the book Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman. I found the book to be a perfect follow-up to the book Sapiens a Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

In chapter 15 entitled "This Is What Democracy Looks Like" Bregman gives a brilliant comparison of democracy and communism. 

Also, in chapter 14, I love how he explains what is best for children: "Over the past five decades, the intrinsic motivation of children has been systematically stifled. Adults have been filling children's time with homework, athletics, music, drama, tutoring, exam practice — the list of activities seems endless. That means less time for that one other activity: play. And then I mean play in the broadest sense — the freedom to go wherever curiosity leads. To search and to discover, to experiment and to create. Not along any lines set out by parents or teachers, but just because. For the fun of it." (page 280)

Finally, view Bregman's TED Talk where he talks about poverty not being a lack of knowledge; and view his interview with Dan Pink.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Top Three Emotions For Leaders

View this short video to hear Donna Orem, President of NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) introduce Marc Brackett who is the director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, professor in the Yale Child Study Center, and author of the book Permission to Feel. She highlights a recent, excellent article he wrote "The Pandemic's Toll on School Leaders Is Palpable. Here's what's Needed for a Successful School Year" where he highlights the top three emotions.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

An Extraordinary Chess Player


This Young Readers Edition (a middle reader) of My Name is Tani by Tanitoluwa Adewumi with Craig Borlase is the story of a young boy and his family who moved from Nigeria, Africa to America. They first settled in New York City . . . where he learned to play chess.

Check out the interview below with Tani; I know it will inspire you to read the book and pass it on to your own children and/or students.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Black Like Me

John Howard Griffin wrote the book Black Like Me in 1959. I read it for the first time about 20 years ago and never forgot it. Well, I read it again this summer and was moved once again. Back then, the author changed his skin color, and now as a black person, he ventured through several racially segregated southern states so that he could experience just what a black person experienced in life. 

Click on the title above to get a further insight via Wikipedia; then you can check out the trailer of the 1964 movie below.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Alternative Math: 2 + 2 = 22 ?


WSJ - May 18, 2021
I happened upon this Wall Street Journal article the other day: "California Leftists Try to Cancel Math Class" by Williamson M. Evers. You might read the article after viewing the video. . . 

Simultaneously, I happened upon this YouTube video, Alternative Math, that has over 10 million views. See what you make of the article and the video.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

School Boards & Parents and Some Great Guidance


Here are two of the best experts in the field of education, Dr. Robert Evans and Dr. Michael Thompson. You may have read one of their many books. Raising Cain by Dr. Thompson and Seven Secrets of the Savvy School Leader by Dr. Evans are two of my favorites.

They have co-authored Hopes and Fears Working with Today's Independent School Parents that goes nicely with their podcast.

Here is a link to their podcast on SOUNDCLOUD. It is a must-listen-to resource, especially for school Boards of Trustees/Directors.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Millennials Helping Out

As a follow-up to my March 26 blog post regarding my book reading of Lulu and the Hunger Monster presented to Gather Food Pantry volunteers, I want to share a recent email from our Gather Board of Directors President citing a dedicated millennial helping to end hunger.

 “One of the advantages of my former profession, and the fact that I am now fully retired from it, is the amount of free time that it afforded me to indulge in volunteering with my pet project at Gather—Meals4Kids/Mobile Markets.

There are so many reasons that the experience feeds my soul, but one of the highlights is in working with the young people who have committed to doing the heavy lifting, and along the way have also discovered the deep-seated value of helping out those who are struggling. The college interns and the high school and college volunteers who consistently show up and pitch in, bring a special energy to the work that makes this old guy feel a bit younger. 

I wanted to share with the Board a singular moment that I observed a few weeks ago, that I think will make you proud of the team of young people that Deb [our Executive Director] and Seneca [our Associate Executive Director] have put together to run these programs. 

At a recent Mobil Market for Meals4Kids, I was signing in the shoppers when a woman approached me and told me that it was her first-time shopping with us. As with so many of those who utilize our services, this woman’s life was in grave crisis. She explained to me that she had physical and medical challenges. Her son, who had been helping to take care of her had recently been killed in an automobile accident by a drunk driver. Needless to say, it was an emotional moment, and the woman was tremendously grateful for the services Gather offers. I explained how the market worked, signed her in, and then went and got our college intern, and asked her if she minded helping this woman through the Market, which of course, she agreed to do without hesitation. Ten minutes later, when they were finished shopping and loading up the woman’s car with nutritious food, I was close enough to overhear the intern quietly say to this distraught woman, 'I wish that Covid wasn’t a thing, because I really want to hug you right now.' 

Over the course of the five years that I have been helping out with these Mobile programs, I have witnessed other such acts of human kindness from our staff and volunteers, and it makes me grateful to be associated with an organization that attracts and inspires this caliber of individual, young and old alike. So, a big thanks to all of our interns, and to all of our volunteers, who in their own ways, are providing more than just food to our neighbors who are hurting.”

Friday, April 9, 2021

The Importance of Using Humor in Our Work & Lives

 I have always found humor to be essential in fostering relations with friends, teachers, children, and parents. It makes building relationships a joy and fun, especially during these very trying times.

Humor, Seriously by Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas is a treat to read. I love how they look at humor from the perspective of those who use humor in their work, e.g. stand-up comedians. Their perspective and talent are inserted throughout the book, which makes it easy reading, entertaining, and most helpful.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Helping to Eliminate Child Hunger

According to Feeding America, "Due to the coronavirus pandemic, 42 million people may face hunger in the U.S. — including more than 13 million children." Working with Gather—an organization in Portsmouth, NH that has been committed to helping to end local hunger for over 200 years—we have discovered this beautiful book about ending hunger in the U.S. 

Recently, I made a YouTube reading of Lulu and the Hunger Monster by Erik Talkin and illustrated by Sheryl Murray that was shared with a group of volunteers in an evening session, talking about how we can help families and children eliminate hunger.

Do get the book, and share it with as many educators, schools, libraries, families, and children as you can.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Caste versus Class


I have always been intrigued about the difference between "caste" and "class." I wrote an article back in 1999 in Independent School magazine, "Class Bias—The Real Enemy" that gave my thoughts on class. . . back then. Well, the book Caste The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson explains it all and in such an understandable way. This NYTimes bestseller—28 weeks on the bestseller list—is a must-read book by all. 

It really takes the wonderful book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari to the next level in helping us understand the importance of "humanity" in any culture.

Here is an excellent seven-minute video review of the book with Isabel Wilkerson from the PBS News Hour.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Books For Children Age 4 to Adult


"Your Kids Aren't Too Old for Picture Books, and Neither Are You" article by Pamela Paul was in the February 20 New York Times. She is the author of the book How to Raise a Reader. Her message and spirit are precious and most informative for teachers and parents.

Having read many books to young people over the years, here are a few favorite picture books that young and old can enjoy:

Mixed: a Colorful Story by Arree Chung

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszca

Dude! by Aaron Reynolds & Dan Santat

Wild Symphony by Dan Brown (author of The Da Vinci Code)

My Name is SANGOEL by Karen Williams, Khadra Mohammed & Catherine Stock

Friday, February 12, 2021

How to Deal With People Who Treat You Like Dirt

I first came across author Robert Sutton when I viewed him on a Daniel Pink video. I was immediately intrigued by the title of his book, The Asshole Survival Guide: How to Deal with People Who Treat You Like Dirt. 

Then, I was surprised to read the NYTimes  article “Michael Jordan: N.B.A. Champ, Marketing Legend and … Toxic Worker?” by Noam Scheiber May 16,2020 . . . Michael Jordan, no way, but after reading it, he is "yes way."

From Robert Sutton, a Stanford University management professor: “Every organization needs the ‘no-asshole rule’ because mean spirited people do massive damage to victims, bystanders who suffer the ripple effects, organizational performance, and themselves." Here he is speaking to a group of followers.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Make Schools More Human

 "Make Schools More Human" by Jal Mehta appeared in the NYTimes Sunday Review section on December 27, 2020. It cites Casco Bay High School in Maine, a school where students had the idea of writing a song that would celebrate community and social isolation. Well, look at what these students came up with for a virtual orchestra . . . 

When I viewed it on the morning of Dec. 27th it had 8,300 views. As of this posting there are now 24,000! Enjoy.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man

Recently in a book club, I was introduced to Emmanuel Acho (former NFL player and now a Fox Sports analyst) and his book Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man. After rapidly reading the book — it is so good — I then discovered his series of YouTube videos with the same title. He is an amazing person and speaks so well about racism and all of the many issues that go along with it.

Get to know the author via one of his many YouTube videos:

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Reflections: Online Learning, Distance Teaching, and Life in the Midst of COVID-19

"Reflections: Online Learning, Distance Teaching, and Life in the Midst of COVID-19" is an article I wrote for the National Association of Independent School's (NAIS) Fall 2020 Independent Teacher publication. 

Along with my reflections, you will find many links to stories I read to children and shared with them during the initial online learning/teaching as a result of the pandemic. Feel free to use them with your children.

Also, the other articles in this edition of Independent Teacher are excellent.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Dedicated to Doing What is Best for Others

The book group I am a part of read Reading With Patrick by Michelle Kuo, and we could not believe the devotion and dedication the author demonstrated throughout the book. How she and Patrick endured the crass racism and inhumanity is difficult to believe. To give you a quick overview on the setting of the story and how some things just do not change in life, read this article from the November 15  NYTimes "No One Should Have to Live Like This" by Catherine Flowers.

You can get to know the author better by watching her TEDx Talk . . .

Friday, November 6, 2020

Supporting Staff Morale in Our Schools

In a recent National Association of Independent Schools NAIS Bulletin (Oct. 14), an often overlooked essential practice was highlighted; it is especially important during times of stress and crisis in our schools. No matter what school you are leading—public, independent, charter, special education, virtual, daycare—do check out this graphic to see what actions can be taken to support staff morale during the pandemic.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Powerfully Uplifting TED Talk

Here is a special, must-see TED Talk (over 2.5M views) that gives perspective as we make our way through this pandemic. 

"Imagine being unable to say, "I am hungry," "I am in pain," "thank you," or "I love you,” — losing your ability to communicate, being trapped inside your body, surrounded by people yet utterly alone. For 13 long years, that was Martin Pistorius’s reality. After contracting a brain infection at the age of twelve, Pistorius lost his ability to control his movements and to speak, and eventually he failed every test for mental awareness. He had become a ghost. But then a strange thing started to happen — his mind began to knit itself back together. In this moving talk, Pistorius tells how he freed himself from a life locked inside his own body."

Friday, October 2, 2020

Five Undeniable Facts of Life

 This is such a wise video about life. It takes less than two minutes to view. We all need a refresh—especially during this pandemic—of what is important in life.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Virtual Learning for Young Children?

In the midst of children going back to school and teachers and parents trying to figure out how this will all work, here is a precious video of young children engaged with each other virtually. Yes, it can work!

This video is from Greenpoint Montessori a one-room schoolhouse in Brooklyn, New York for children 30 months to five years.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Learning More About Critical Racial & Social Justice Education

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo has been on the NYTimes BestSeller list for 21 weeks and as of this post, is #7. Robin is an academic, lecturer, author, and has been a consultant and trainer on issues of racial and social justice for more than 20 years.

Here is an introduction to the book: "Referring to the defensive moves white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue."

The interview below will give further insight into her take on race and her powerful book.

Here is a link to an interviews with the author: Teaching Tolerance Interviews Robin DiAngelo: White Fragility in the Classroom (30:28)  

Finally, here is an extensive article that she wrote back in 2012, "Nothing to Add: A Challenge to White Silence in Racial Discussions" you might like to dive into for more good thinking by Dr. DiAngelo

Friday, August 21, 2020

Using the NAIS Trustee Table Podcast with COVID-19


The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has a podcast The Trustee Table that is perfect for nonprofit board growth and development. It can be used for onboarding of new trustees/directors and ongoing board professional development work. Podcasts usually run 15 to 25 minutes in length.

Here is an excellent, timely podcast sample: "COVID-19 Generative Governance - Board Guidelines from Dr. Richard Chait," Dr. Chait, by the way, is my favorite guru on nonprofit governance. I look at his book Governance as Leadership as the governance bible. New York City heads of school collaborated to have him as a keynote speaker when I was the head at Brooklyn Heights Montessori School in Brooklyn, NY.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Meet Sal Khan and Khan Academy

Khan Academy has been around for a number of years.

“In 2004, Sal Khan, a hedge fund analyst, began making math tutorials for his cousins. Twelve years later, Khan Academy has more than 42 million registered users from 190 countries, with tutorials on subjects from basic math through economics, art history, computer science, health, medicine and more.” (From TED website)

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Children Are Quick

These came from a recent friendly email . . . 

TEACHER: Why are you late?
STUDENT: Class started before I got here.
TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.
TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell 'crocodile?'
TEACHER: No, that's wrong
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.
(I Love this child)
TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.
TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.
TEACHER: Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
GLEN: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.
TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with ' I. '
MILLIE: I is..
TEACHER: No, Millie..... Always say, 'I am.'
MILLIE: All right... 'I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.'
TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it.
Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS: Because George still had the axe in his hand...
TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mum is a good cook.
TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your brother's.
Did you copy his?
CLYDE : No, sir. It's the same dog.
TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher

Friday, July 10, 2020

A Must Read for School Communities

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown is a powerful best selling book. It is currently #4 on the NYTimes Bestsellers list. The book is a perfect read for school communities. Faculty, middle and high school students, and parents will learn so much about race, class, dignity, DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion), and humanity. This would make for subsequent healthy virtual discussions within a school community.

You can get to know Austin by watching this amazing video.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Stories For Children . . . and Parents

Reading to children has always been a treat for me. During the pandemic, I have not been able to be with them in their classrooms, so I read to my iPhone and passed the links on to the teachers and parents. Here are the links to most of my video reads. Hope they can help you.

Fish Story (5:05) (Ages 3 - 7)
Boffo The Great Motorcycle Race  (3:38) (Ages 3 - 7)
The Lion Roared (8:08) (Ages 6 and up)
Cinderella (10:17) (Ages 4 – 7)
Socks for Supper (4:43) (Ages 3 – 7)
Miss Nelson is Missing (6:07) (Ages 4 – 7)
DUDE (5:07) (Ages 3 – 7)

Saturday, June 13, 2020

School Online Resources

So much is happening in education—on all levels—and will continue into the summer, fall, and the 2020-21 school year.

In January a colleague of mine took on the role of Head of School of ICL (Institute for Civic Leadership) Academy, which is a 100% virtual school (grades 7-12) affiliated with the Dwight School. He passed on to me the following: “Our platform of fully developed high school classes can be used by schools to enhance or replace the online learning they have been thwarted into. The courses would be theirs to use, as a white-labeled resource. They are designed to be engaging, allow for regular interaction with the teacher, have a built-in grade book, embedded videos and assessments.”

"The next evolution in education is ICL (Institute for Civic Leadership) Academy, a transformative private online school for grades 7-12 that connects students’ passions with personalized academics, using the best in educational technology and philosophy to meet the demands of today’s generation. At ICL Academy, students achieve college readiness in addition to jumpstarting the career of their choosing, whether it’s performing arts, athletics, entrepreneurship, or more.

Our nearly 150-year-old academic tradition is rooted in the history and mission of the renowned Dwight School, and is underpinned by the Institute for Civic Leadership’s award-winning youth leadership and character-building program."

Friday, May 29, 2020

In Spite of COVID-19, Never Give Up

I love this video for kids, teachers, AND parents. It provides a little boost in life and what we need as we go through "paralysis analysis" in determining next steps for our children, schools, AND homes.

Friday, May 15, 2020

A Look at the Pandemic

I find myself asking what are we learning from this historic pandemic?

Some thoughts and resources . . .

Humanity is far better off when everyone is working together, rather than forming tribes and forcing people to care for their tribe rather than caring for humanity, especially when we look at the world population. In America, we experienced this humanity/tribe effect before, during, and after the Civil War and World War II.

Tribes and the evolution of humanity are so well explained in the popular book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari—see my June 9, 2019 blog post, and in Sebastian Junger's book Tribesee my July 8, 2016 blog post. Both books can be helpful in understanding where we are as a global society in the midst of this pandemic.

One last resource is equally powerful: the podcast "Making Sense" with Sam Harris and his May 1 conversation with Yuval Noah Harari. It has so much good pandemic perspective information on what is going on around us during these difficult time.