In my new job as Dean of Students, one of my concerns is discipline. Fielding questions from faculty and discussions with my new boss have helped crystalize a philosophy about an aspect of school life that, as a classroom teacher exclusively, I never had to think that much about. To foster a consistent and effective school-wide system of discipline, we will talk about proactive strategies on an ongoing basis. Teachers should feel comfortable that they have the resources they need to help children learn to manage their own behavior effectively, thus creating a shared classroom environment where students can learn ...

In a lounge chair by the pool the other day I was browsing Chip Wood’s Yardsticks, our school’s summer read for staff and parents. With more than three decades as an educator under his belt, this New England-based elementary principal knows a thing or two about kids between the ages of 4-14. He not only makes a compelling case for developmentalism in schools, he provides a manual for each age covering growth patterns (physical to cognitive), in-classroom concerns (fine and gross motor ability, social-emotional behavior), and thoughts on curriculum (the three R’s plus age-appropriate themes). Of course, ...

One of the ways I’m filling up the gobs up unstructured time in my schedule right now (other than meetings) is by reading the manual. In past years, I admit, Faculty Handbooks have generally been filed away in a stack of get to ‘em later 3-rings on a bottom shelf, but given my new role as enforcer (of rules, that is), I figured I should learn to love this document. For those of you who haven’t left the post after that first paragraph, what follows are notes on a document search for my new job title, “Dean of ...

The new gig is already a lot different than the old. I’ve got an office, not a classroom. (More to come on feng shuing that, once I figure out how. So far all I’ve done is throw out an old spider plant.) I even broke down and got the crackberry. That acquisition was precipitated by an unfortunate incident involving the laundry, and and it didn’t hurt that my son loves brickbreaker. I may eventually get used to the buzzing in my pocket, but I promise I’ll never pull it out and thumb through emails while we’re...

Waterproofing a deck is not sexy. No one oohs and ahs when you’re done. The only discernible difference is that when juice spills it puddles instead of absorbs. But it is necessary. The payoff is deferred, barely tangible except over time: the deck lasts longer. I built this one myself, a summer ago. It was our third year in the house, long enough to be sick of the cramped poo-brown platform tacked on the back, with its national park bars that dissected one’s view no matter where one sat. Five more feet and white-painted rails was all we ...


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