Showing posts from January, 2008

Updates and Ideas

The Boston Symphony module is up! Here it is, click and enjoy. There are a few bugs, for instance, one cannot find this information by navigating the site. Big problem, but you can click from here. I let the powers that be know.

This week was my first as a Montessori teacher. I must say, it's a lovely atmosphere in which to work. Candles burn in all rooms at all times. Children wear slippers. Meals are times of civility, are not rushed, and bring all of us closer together. Recess is long and the children do amazing things with ice and their imaginations. The sense of play is wonderful. As a big kid, I am enjoying this very much.


Mr. Woodcock: You'd think with Billy Bob Thornton and Susan Surandon that this would be good. The editing, music, and cinematography ruined it. Don't watch it. *

The Golden Compass: This is a fine movie, it follows the book quite well, but "dust" is not explored as it could be. As it is obvious that "dust" is se…

Trappings, Wrappings, and the Esoteric

I was offered a job in a Montessori School. Hurray!

The Montessori philosophy is about little sweet details, like careful wrappings on a gift. Children leave their shoes neatly at the door and wear slippers. They light candles and set neat places for meals.

Take a moment and conjure the 5 happiest moments of your life. What do you remember?

the bride's smile ?the cost of the cake?the caring look in his eyes as he pulled your chair for you?the status of the restaurant?the ah-ha moment of realization?the improved MCAS report?the light in the person of a candidate?the size of his/her war chest?the softness of her skin?the label on her dress?the principal's devotion to Dr. Seuss day?the principal's article in "Administration Today"?exchanging monkey faces and giggles with your toddlers in the van?keeping your van spotless and the children well-behaved and neat?
Were your memories more aligned with the black diamonds or the white? The white diamonds are the goals our…

Three Brains, One Spirit

Human beings have 3 distinct, yet interconnected brains. A teacher is only effective if she taps into all three.

The oldest part of our brain, the "reptilian" brain or "brain stem" controls heartbeat, respiration, salt balance, and other essential functions in our bodies. Reptiles routinely eat their own young and show complete indifference to other living things.

Mammals give birth to live young and would certainly die out if they looked at their young as food. With mammals came the "limbic" brain. This is the store of feelings. The limbic brains gives us care and love, it also takes the "startle" from the reptilian brain and turns it into fear, dread, or anger.

The largest of the three is the neocortex (neo= new, cotex = peel). This is where intellect and logic lives. All three brains work together to make a well-balanced individual.

Music links the brains and helps them balance one another. Meeting a new class, their reptilian brains ar…

The Importance of Hope

How does one go from a D student to a Math whiz?
How does a pre-reader develop to a novelist?
How does the fat kid learn to love running?


Hope is a commodity that is underestimated by struggling teachers, but it is the currency of the master teacher. I remember Mr. Rini on the first day of Freshman Algebra. Everyone feared Algebra, it was such a foreign and scary-sounding discipline. Math had begun to be challenging in Middle School, and we knew it would just get worse.

Mr. Rini was too tall for his body. He was gangly and lean. His arms, exposed by rolled-up sleeves, were covered with much Italian fur. He had an acidic voice and a dry humor that wasn't exercised often. The first day of class he said, "This class is simple." He drew an equal sign (=) on the board. "Everything on this side, "he hit the board on one side of the sign, "has to be equal to the other side, "he hit the other side of the sign."

Mr. Rini then drew a picture o…

Low Expectations

"Expect the worst, and you'll always be pleasantly surprised." - my Mom

Words of wisdom that I've lived by. This is the premise of defensive driving, trust-but-verify treaties, vaccines, and a host of other prudent measures.

But how often do we expect the worst and underestimate our students?

I grew up in an Archie Bunker family. Good-hearted people who throw the N-word around like it's nothing and are prone to grand generalizations. Just today, my mom asked, "So, who is nicer to you, the Jewish kids or the Gentiles?"

As I teach at an all-Jewish school, the answer was easy. "The Jewish kids, ma," said I.

"I bet you didn't get any Christmas presents from your students this year," she quipped.

"No, but they wished me a Merry Christmas and threw me a birthday party with a nice card and a cake," I gloated.

Mom proceeded to wax poetic on how nice Jews are and I zoned out for a spell.

Prejudice, both good and bad, is a produc…