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it’s all about relationships: the case for looping


“It’s all about relationships!” The students in our teacher education program at the University of Chicago heard that pronouncement from me and the other staff members ad nauseum. Far more significant than the language arts or math curriculum you adopt and the approach to discipline you are drawn to, is the quality of relationships you are able to develop with your students. These relationships...

Applying the Brakes to Testing


No field trips, no senior proms or formal dances, no Kente commencements or graduation ceremonies. Welcome to May 2020, and the world turned upside-down for everyone, and in quite particular ways for students and schools. These rituals and experiences will surely return one day, but for young people on the verge of taking the next steps forward in their lives, the loss is level, and the...

The perils of charismatic Leadership


Note: Recently, a friend introduced me to an article by a prominent social scientist about “leading from the middle,” a style which, she argued, was best suited for the operation of contemporary complex institutions. The term was new to me, but it propelled me back into my own past musings about leadership styles which had, until now, gone nameless. Although my focus was specifically on school...

My Appointment Book


I’m staring at my blue/grey appointment book, sitting forlornly on the computer table. It’s small enough to fit in my shirt pocket. Stamped on the cover in gold letters is the year 2020, just below the place where I’ve attached one of my address labels. In normal times, I’m terrified that it might wander taking with it the road map of my entire work life, so I’m hoping that address label will...

Deferred Maintenance


About a week into self-quarantine, way back in March, I realized that one of my teeth was loose. I could tell from the odd taste in my mouth that something was brewing that was probably undermining that tooth. I knew that although my dentist’s office was closed, there was some provision for emergency service, so I called. One of the dentists on the team returned my call and listened to my...

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