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So far debbie has created 79 blog entries.

When the reading specialist is a mean gossip


Q: I’m an elementary school teacher, and I often rely on our reading specialist to come into the classroom to observe students. Last year, we hired a new one, Lara. Lara is competent, but she’s toxic. She’s unusually close with the principal, and she often reports information to him after visiting teachers’ classrooms. She tells [...]

When a counselor hears consistent complaints about one teacher 


Q: I’m a school counselor, and I’ve had constant run-ins with one teacher, Jane, for the past four years. She has zero ability to relate to kids who aren’t straight-A students, and she holds all but the highest performers to unrealistic standards. She seems practically gleeful when kids do poorly in her class. Every year, kids [...]

Should a principal treat all staff members the same?


Q: I’m a high school principal and consider myself to be fair and reasonable. I have an employee — let’s call her Christine — who is extremely unreliable. She doesn’t get grades in on time, doesn’t always show up when it’s her turn to chaperone evening events, and generally is nowhere to be found when [...]

Am I crazy to consider leaving teaching?


Q: I’ve been an 8th-grade English teacher for 10 years in the same school. Some days I love what I do, but most days it feels stale, and I wish I were doing something different. While I’m sure that’s true for many people, I spend a ton of time mentally plotting my exit. In my [...]

A teacher’s promotion to leadership doesn’t work out


Q: As principal, I try to promote staff when they have done a good job and show potential. I recently hired one of my teachers, Kelly, to be a department chair. It was well-deserved. She’s an enthusiastic and hard-working teacher, the kind of person who gets the best work out of her students and consistently [...]

Mixing guns and schools

col - Underwood|

Schools are subject to an often-conflicting array of gun regulations from three levels of government. Educators and parents want schools to be safe places for children. And as the PDK national poll has shown, parents overwhelmingly believe that their children are safe at school. But tragedies do occur, such as the mass murders at Columbine [...]

The talent narrative

col - Starr|

Leaders can change the narrative about teaching at-risk kids through their deliberate words and actions. To gauge a school system’s commitment to social justice and equity, all you have to do is look at its alternative programs. In too many districts, they’re little more than a dumping ground for troubled students and difficult employees. The [...]

Pick up the phone — now!

col - Richardson|

This is the time of year when I honestly would prefer to sit back, watch the snow gently drift down, and muse about the single red cardinal who alights in the fruit tree outside my office window. But my inbox is full to overflowing, especially on Mondays. Authors still send Kappan hundreds of manuscripts every [...]

Big change on both sides of the pond

col - Ferguson|

Two countries confronting worries about jobs and immigration see solutions tied to education. A brief vacation in London earlier this year gave me the opportunity to chat with some education counterparts who, like me, bridge the academic and policy worlds. The timing of my visit made for much mutual commiserating. Like the U.S., the United [...]

Managing stress for at-risk students


A Massachusetts school that specializes in educating highly stressed adolescents offers lessons that could benefit all classrooms.  By Ellen J. Spiegel Jeremy entered the school, visibly angry and despondent. When his homeroom teacher gently asked him how he was doing, there was no response. He sat at his desk with a scowl on his face, [...]

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