That Moment Where Kids Discover Life’s Not Magic

Declan's six. Every time I say, "no," which is quite often, he says, "Can I do that when I'm a teenager?" "I'm going to watch every show when I'm a teen," he says. No. No, you're not. I've banned cartoons with a strong correlation to acting out and one that revealed a...

Why This Teacher Hates Gum

Gum is evil. It's something I didn't understand in my younger days. Now I do. I used to think gum was good. When kids' mouths are closed, I teach, kids listen. I used to use Jolly Ranchers for this. I'd give loud kids two Jolly Ranchers each. I wasn't rewarding...

How to Escape America for $203 or Less

I haven't traveled out of the country in a long time. So long that my passport has Soviet stamps on it. It's old--extremely expired. I've been meaning to get a new one for a while. "Want to go on a trip?" said my friend. It was an amazing trip. The mere invitation's...

Breaking News: Polar Vortex Swallows Teens

"You there! In the shorts. Did you take my geography class? Didn't I teach about climate? It is cold outside." A balmy New England 12°. With a windchill of 150 below. Today was the first day I didn't see teens in shorts. I was looking--there's always one.  Just...

Stop Teaching Reading!

Whoever's teaching these kids to read--stop. I know, you're amazing. You have a magic about you. One day, I put Declan on the bus. Seven hours later, he got off spelling. Mysterious! I like that he's lying on the floor reading books about bugs and dinosaurs. I have to...

Battle of the Bulge

It's the post-vacation bulge. My backpack, not my jeans. Today is the last day of school vacation. The snowstorm killed our return last Thursday, so it's come twice. It's the day the bell tolls, the alarm clocks get set, and teens everywhere shake the crumbs off their...

The Smudged Star

New Year's is time to pack up the tree. I remove each ornament and ponder its significance as I gently wrap it and put it in its special box. Except for the generic balls and fillers, each has a very special meaning--the power to make me travel to a time and place in...

A Practical Proverb

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life." --Proverbs 4:23 This verse was posted in a New Year's message in which I was tagged. I know it's a Bible verse, but I'm going to calligraphy it all nice and big and put it in my classroom...

Underwear Ninja Learns Zen

He was standing in the living room, dressed in his best Fruit of the Looms. Seems the holes in guys' underwear make a convenient location to holster a sword. He drew it with intention, staring me down swinging impressively. It's tough to get sword training in these...

All’s Fair in War and Christmas: Weapons Make Great Gifts

In my family we don't give gifts. We give aggravation. No one likes a Yankee Swap where people regift candles to an unsuspecting aunt. That's small time. We're far more clever than that. Anyone who's come near our family has suffered the wrath of the gift. There was...