I just finished teaching what may be the last English class of my career. It snuck up on me, but there it is. Next year I’m stepping out of daily teaching to focus on my role as Dean. I’ll still have plenty of contact with kids, but I won’t be the one giving homework, or making up units, or grading stacks of papers on the weekend (big tear plops down on keyboard here). I spent this final morning with soon to graduate 8th graders at long tables in the cafeteria, guided by the art teacher in hand ...

This week, two visitors from the Swedish embassy came to school in search of Climate Pilots. No, these aren’t cosmonauts soaring above the skin of earth’s atmosphere. They are households willing to reduce their carbon footprints over the next six months by altering their lifestyles in collaboration with “coaches,” families from Kalmar, Sweden who have already taken the challenge to green their day to day life. This doesn’t require an embrace of vegetarianism or wearing sandals recycled from old tires (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The point is to promote less radical adjustments, of ...

Last night when the dishes were done, with the boys upstairs not fighting in the bath and my wife connecting with an old friend on the phone, I opened the back door to look at the rain. It pattered on the deck and freckled the water in the stainless mixing bowl the dogs stole. The air smelled clean, finally free of the relentless pollen that makes me hack like a tubercular on morning walks these days. Underneath the protective span of a couple saw horses, baby grass poked through patch medium that looks like soggy cardboard. The cedar shingles on ...

An excited group of 8th graders is a skittish beast. Believe it or not, they are capable of engaging in deep discussion with a little teacher snake oil. In fact, I think the techniques I’m about to discuss can be fruitfully applied to nearly any age or ability of student and will result in a stimulating, text-based discussion about whatever you happen to be reading together as a class. First, a deep breath. “Now, hold it for forty five minutes,” I sometimes say. Too corny? Maybe, but it's true that the simple act of a focusing breath or two ...

We are wrapping up preparations this week for a big event in the life of any school, our five year accreditation with SACS-CASI. Having completed a school wide look in the mirror over the past half a year which involved collecting evidence and answering questions in seven categories ranging from governance to “teaching and learning,” we will be visited by a team of three educators who will help assure that we are doing what we say we are doing. All schools, public and private, go through this or a similar accreditation process. I myself went through the SACS process not ...


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