Caught one of these yesterday, all alone in the rain on Big Hunting Creek outside Catoctin Mountain National Park. As a chronically hapless angler, my efforts are generally rewarded just enough to prevent me from putting all my equipment on ebay. Fortunately, during the time I wasn’t catching fish, my subconscious was hard at work thinking about Pith. That’s the title, for now, of the book I propose to write about the a year in the life. It was one of my eighth graders' vocabulary words around the time the idea was born, and seemed a good thing ...

Last weekend I went to a soccer coaching clinic and a Piagetian seminar broke out. Gary Allen is the Director of Coaching Education for the Virginia Youth Soccer Association, and has played and coached for a lifetime across every level of organized soccer. What I didn’t expect to hear from him, for the first hour of the clinic, was a discussion of psychomotor skills and stages of development. One thing he explained that everyone could understand was the slanted jump rope. Imagine a jump rope stretched out on the ground. As a coach, you tell all the members of ...

Last Wednesday nearly seventy middle school students from Instituto Tepeyac, a private school in Mexico, transformed our gym into a celebration of their country and culture. Their visit was the first in what we hope will be a fruitful international partnership and an annual exchange of students. It’s also an interesting example of how some of the big trends of the 21st century—globalism, the new economy, technology— are playing out on the stage of one l’il school in Northern Virginia. And boy was that stage rocking. My favorite part was the eight-foot diameter mandala of corn and ...

Remember running after kids on the playground, tapping them under the slide with an unequivocal, “You’re it!”? Back when tag was a game, the rules were simple. Now that it’s an acronym for “talented and gifted” in my son’s school, things aren’t so clear cut. I found myself at a PTA meeting last week, learning the ins and outs and acting, inadvertently, like the parents I dread when addressing a group as Dean. A bright-faced first year teacher was blithely describing the entrance requirements and curriculum for the “pull out programs” in language arts and math ...

One of the first things I put up in my office for this new job was a quilted tapestry about three feet square. It’s an Amish star on a dark green background, composed of diamonds ranging in hue from turquoise to wine. I’ve had it since my first teaching gig, sixteen years ago, when I bought it from the artist, a colleague who was retiring (to quilt more). Years before, she had been my own 8th grade English teacher. We read A Midsummer Night’s Dream in her class, and she called us “toads.” Recently I read the ...


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