Middle School


(Ten years ago, I was nearing the end of my school administration career.  This story came from that year…) The first week back from Winter Break had been fairly uneventful.   The kids, still filled with a bit of holiday spirit, had for the most part succeeded in concealing their new DS Lites, iPods and cell […]

Having Fun While Working Hard


Recently, I read a quote from Hyman Rickover. Rickover was an admiral in the United States Navy. A Russian immigrant, he is the father of nuclear propulsion. Admiral Rickover was known as a workaholic. He never considered himself smart, only those around him dumb. Looking forward, the United States education system worried him a great […]

Reflecting, Walking, and Stimulating the Mind

Two giraffe at mysore zoo

We recently went to the zoo on a rather warm and sunny day. The animals were active and our kids had tons of questions we loved contemplating the answers to. Summer has arrived! The school year is finally coming to an end. This is the time of year when my jealousy of teachers who have […]

About a song: What does it “mean”?

stencil.twitter post 30

As a middle school principal, I make it a point to do informal walkthroughs for at least 40-60 minutes each day (well, that’s the plan anyway). It is the best part of my job to learn alongside teachers and kids throughout the school. I stopped by one of my teacher’s (@bess_murphy) classrooms this week. I’m […]

Pathways to Science: Making Meaningful, Authentic Connections with Scientists in the Classroom


To maintain student interest in science it is crucial to keep them involved and keep the science authentic. Let’s look at two programs that give students the opportunity to make meaningful connections with professional scientists. Both are easy to incorporate into existing curriculum or for use in a club or afterschool program. We’ll start off […]

What if We Made Schools More Uncomfortable?


Another school year gone. My heart goes outto the kids who waded through more than their share of social garbage last term. Hopefully they’ll get a neededreprieve during the summer. But summer is short and when it ends they’ll head back to school. Most of them (and their parents and teachers) are probably not looking […]

Peer Approval Addiction is Real


So what the heck is peer approval addiction? If you work with tweens and teens you need to know about this. Don’t bother looking it up in anything official, though, because I made up the term myself after 18 years of answering email questions from middle and high school students. These messages come to me […]

Yes! We Should Engage in the Practice of Social Media at School


Teaching digital citizenship is a broad topic that as the name implies, demands that character education be addressed before one even enters the digital space. If a student doesn’t know how to behave responsibly in real life, then doing so online isn’t going to change that. As part of my studies in Digital Education Leadership […]

Middle School Friendship Issues are HUGE


I’ve been doing Skype in the Classroomsessions aboutReal Friends vs the Other Kindsince September 2013. Even did one in Croatia! Recently I beamed into an 8thgrade class in Philadelphia. I’m sharing my Q&A with the students to help you help your kids deal with peer conflicts in ways that develop character whileimproving overall school climate. […]

If You’re Not Modeling What You Teach


The middle school principal hired me to talk to the kids about bullying. (Not a word I like to use as it has come to mean everything and nothing.) Walking through the front doors, I saw student anti-bullying posters and a large felt banner encouraging: “Respect, Kindness, and Social Responsiblity.” A few minutes later I […]