Dear Teachers Who Write Letters of Recommendation

Thank you for writing numerous letters every year, often an extra duty added to an already lengthy list of duties.  When teaching, it took me a while to figure out how to write a letter of recommendation, piecing together advice from more veteran colleagues. So, having asked many different admissions officers about useful letters of recommendation over the two decades…

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Quote: Doing the little things means everything

When Working With Teachers, Be Proactive

Hello Students: As you’re calculating how long you can wait to turn in assignments yet still “make the grade” before the end of the school year, also consider that many teachers are also (very) eagerly anticipating summer vacation (possibly even more than you). Thus, teachers, who have navigated an extraordinarily complex school year and are subject to human limits, may…

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A meditating frog

Keep Calm and Learn On

Calm and concentration are essential to learning. Yet, in the high stakes, fast-paced, memorize and regurgitate modern American academic meritocratic classroom, where secondary school students switch from learning Calculus to Shakespeare in five minutes or less after deftly navigating the social complexity in crowded (even in COVID-affected days) hallways from one class to the next, calm is difficult to find…

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The path to educational normalcy begins….sort of

Even though students are returning to K-12 campuses, either in hybrid models, toggling between in person attendance on campuses and virtual school, or a full five day a week schedule, the social dynamic amongst students as well as the learning process, is shifting.  New social divisions amongst students are forming, as some students, especially secondary school students, are discomforted confronting…

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Bubble cubicle

Kids Return to Campus, But Not to Normalcy

As the number of diagnosed COVID cases plateaus and more Americans are vaccinated, more K-12 administrators are reconvening classes in person, while educators who had already implemented a hybrid schedule during the past few months are now returning to full five day a week, everyone together on campuses. Yet returning to classrooms may be more complicated than expected with modified…

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Reopening Dead Ahead…Maybe

More K-12 school administrators are either preparing or have already reopen(ed) school campuses amidst subsiding COVID related health concerns, declining infections, hospitalizations and deaths.   Of course, variants (viruses evolve) or declining vaccination rates leading to worsening infection, hospitalization and even death rates, would lead to a likely-swift reversal of school reopenings.  Reopen, yes, but not fully business as usual as…

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Re-Opening Quandary

As the numbers of diagnosed COVID cases wanes and more Americans are being vaccinated, the desire to re-open schools seems to be increasing. In a recent Pew Research poll, more Americans believe that students need in-person interaction to continue their academic progress:  Yet, in the same poll, 59% of respondents also believe schools should wait to reopen until all teachers…

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Kurt Vonnegut’s Advice: Trust Your Experience

Sometimes, we gain clarity and/or confidence about our aptitude when the thoughts of another like Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse Five, reflects our own experience: When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to…

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Zoom School.Joe Visitacion

Virtual Learning at a Cost

In virtual school, where the learning process is digitalized, students are struggling to access assignments, and to demonstrate mastery of the curriculum being presented, therefore, how can it not be that the potential for greater learning is lost?  Students learning virtually must navigate and utilize a sundry of online learning tools, reducing their time to understand concepts. For example, high…

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The Oxymoron of Learning from a Distance

Many students are dismayed, their hopes for a return to a long-established normal this fall, dashed, as school administrators continued suspending or severely curtailing in-person classes, as well as most clubs and sports through at least the end of 2020, due to the on-going COVID-related health risks. Continued distance learning has disrupted the coming of age process, ushering in a…

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Normal Interrupted

Until mid-March 2020, parents and students each had defined roles and processes when working together to manage a student’s education. Yet, the COVID-induced closure of school campuses and the subsequent implementation of distance learning, upended a well-worn family dynamic. During a typical Pre-COVID school day, all students had a ready-made structure to manage their academic work. Bells indicated the next…

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The Human Element of Learning

In the relationship between the student and the teacher, when the personalities are in sync, then you know it.  A conflict–temporary or more on-going–can skew learning and create longer lasting consequences than just the school year.  Understanding any conflict, objectively, takes some effort on the teenager’s, parent’s and teacher’s parts.    What’s a general complaint?  What’s a genuine concern or…

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En Garde! Writers’ Block Be Damned

For many students, ’tis the season for writing – writing in school – and for those fully engaged in the college admissions process, the writing seems to be without end. Not all required writing is purposeful, hence the tedious nature of it. Writing the required essays on the college applications, though, is for many, the first opportunity to more fully…

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