Archive | November, 2011

How Do You Use Blocks? An Excellent Interview Question When Hiring an Elementary School Teacher

Ah, those smooth, splinter-free blocks of maple! Just reading about them in the New York Times last Sunday connected me to my childhood like almost nothing else could. I spent hours on the floor with them on into my early teens when sports, girls and boarding school finally tore me away from them. I built […]

The Joint Parent-Teacher Enterprise: Self-Possessed Children

Just because children are self-centered, doesn’t mean they have to be selfish. Last May I stood on a polished hardwood floor in the middle of an 80-year old multipurpose room with a 30-foot ceiling in front of 250 wooden seats that rose before me like the stands in a baseball stadium, looking up as a […]

Making Better Schools is a Local Enterprise

In the summer of 1974 I became principal of my first school. It was in trouble—such trouble, in fact, that I was the only person they could find to be its principal. Demographic change had hit the school hard. White flight and other changes had dropped the enrollment to only 210 students, 38% of whom […]

The Natural Resilience of Children

Dominique, age 8, sat in front of a computer screen doing addition problems—level one on Khan Academy. When 9 + 3 = ? appeared on the screen, “That’s easy,” she said, and started hunting for 1 on the keyboard. She was new to the computer, and it was slower than she was. Nonetheless her approach […]

Where Am I Going? Who Am I?

A Discipline of My Calling “I don’t mean to be disrespectful but I wonder where you have been lately with all the pressure on all the…” were the words that greeted me from my computer screen this morning, when I opened it up at 5am for my customary morning of writing. Someone I don’t yet […]