About debbie

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So far debbie has created 183 blog entries.

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 [...]

The talent narrative

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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!

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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

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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


 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, refusing to follow any directions or communicate. Jeremy clearly needed some time outside the classroom. With some [...]

Improve governance for charters

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Policymakers should revisit their initial thinking about charter schools so they can evaluate and improve their governance. By Chester E. Finn, Jr., Bruno V. Manno, and Brandon L. Wright The United States has just 25 years of experience with charter schools. But in that short time, some 6,800 of these independently operated public schools have [...]

Supreme Court guards education for undocumented immigrants

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Denying children an education because of the actions of their parents is not legal.  By JULIE UNDERWOOD The right to a public education for those who are not U.S. citizens, legal residents, or living with their parents is not a clear and stable issue. Children who enter the U.S. illegally with or without their parents [...]

What to do when a meeting goes wrong


Q: I’m the head of the special education department at my school, and I recently ran a screening meeting for a 6th-grade student. Her parents went through a nasty divorce, but both agreed to attend the meeting together. At the meeting, her father got really belligerent, blaming her mother for all of their daughter’s problems [...]

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