I thought teaching only two English classes a day would give me more time, but somehow I feel twice as busy as when I taught a full load. Here are a few things that keep stealing my attention away from the partially graded stack of mock application essays on my desk. International Day Rehearsal 103 flags in a row, and a kid to go with each one (in most cases, one tall enough to hold the flag unfurled so it doesn’t brush the floor). Then a cadenced march across the gym floor to stand in orderly rows spilling off ...

This morning one of our second grade teachers was sick, and I had to cover her class for an hour. After a rushed tutorial from the other second grade teacher I found myself in front of a class of people a lot littler than the ones I’m used to teaching. “Good morning, boys and girls,” I said. They looked at me expectantly. “Do you remember my name?” “You’re Emmet Rosenfeld, Dean of Students,” said one rather observant boy, eyeing the red nametag on my lapel. “We met you on the first day of school!” It was true that ...

Family Magazine, a Northern Virginia-based publication on parenting, is including content from Congressional staff, and it’s my turn. I thought I’d use this week’s post to work out some ideas and reflect on publication as an aspect of the writing process. The piece I agreed to write, way back in August, was “The Write Stuff.” In the spirit of commercial tabloids, I will provide “Five Tips to Turn Struggling Scribes into Scribbling Superstars.” I can dash off 800 words on this quick; I’ve been working on this trick for fifteen years and counting. After a pithy ...

9: 53. I’m writing fast. Not at a sprint, more of a brisk walk. I’m timing myself to see how far I can get in ten minutes, because this is the assignment I asked my 8th graders to do today and I want to do it, too. Actually, I asked them to do it three times this weekend, not all in a row. For each time, in a comfortable setting where they can focus, they are to freewrite for ten minutes and then get a word count. We will get the average words per minute based on this ...

I’m no golfer. But once when I was taking a couple cuts at a kid’s birthday party at Top Golf, a dad who is gave me some good advice: “Low and slow,” he said, meaning that one should draw back the club head in a deliberate way before hitting the ball. Since then, that phrase pops back into my head every time I pick up a club. I’ve been trying to apply the mnemonic to my teaching too. Take the summer assignment my 8th graders brought to class on the second day. Inherited from last year’s ...


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