The Parkland Conversation: Caring & Empathy in Our Schools


In honor of the nationally student-organized Parkland walkouts today, I am posting this today.

Take heart reader, by in large, this is not a politically charged post, but it will serve as a call for change as many of my colleagues and the students I speak to each day are clamoring to see happen. I have spent hours since the February 14th tragedy wrestling with the realities of continued shootings in schools, the emotional fallout, political discord, scared children, attention-seeking adults, and the list goes on and on. I have started and stopped this post in my head many times, but as you can plainly see, I have decided my thoughts and the solutions I will try to convey are worth sharing.

Let’s start with what this post will really be about–I want to posit not only the need for our classrooms to be caring and empathetic in general but also the need for building caring and empathetic classrooms from the inside out, starting with teacher preparatory programs. While I am all for some extended gun laws and restrictions, this post will concentrate solely on what we as a society, in our little nook of it, can do to curtail or even prevent these events immediately.

Before we dive in, I would like to invite any educators who read this post to comment on it with their own use of care ethics and responsive classroom techniques and more specifically where and when you encountered those techniques. Continue reading


GCTE Reflection: Being Named Teacher of the Year


What a weekend! I have been an active member of the Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE) since I was a preservice teacher over twelve years ago, and I have always enjoyed the annual conference the years I have been able to attend. Really, my doctoral pursuits really plugged me back into the organization as well as the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). I have presented at both conferences several times in the last five years, but this year was particularly special and was by far my favorite GCTE conference. Continue reading

See You @ GCTE!


Just 24 hours before #GCTE2018 begins! As I wrote about in a previous post, I have several of my colleagues presenting this year. I am so proud of them, and I am thankful to call them colleagues and friends. I highly recommend their sessions! It also appears most of my doctoral cohort mates will be at the conference and presenting as well, so I am really looking forward to a reunion with the folks I toiled away with towards our respective doctorates.

My friend and colleague, Glenn Chance, and I will be presenting on leveraging visual literacy tools to aid students understanding and use of author’s purpose–all through the use of Banksy’s art and documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Interested? Stop by and say hi! Below is our session info:

Exiting Through the Gift Shop: Enhancing Non-Fiction Instruction through Banksy, Documentary, and Memoir”  Saturday, February 10 during Breakout session G from 9:45 AM – 11:00 AM in Room D


Panelist on P21 Patterns of Innovation Webinar: Distributed Leadership


I had the honor and pleasure of acting as a panelist for a webinar yesterday hosted by Partnership 21 (P21) on distributed leadership. P21, while not quite a household name yet, is a large non-profit education organization that partners with schools, industry, and government to support 21st century learning in schools. They have an exemplar program that my school and our cluster of schools were recognized for this past fall.

From their website: “P21’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for 21st century learning by building collaborative partnerships among education, business, community, and government leaders so that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in a world where change is constant and learning never stops.”

The panel is made up of principals of schools who are doing the 21st century learning P21 advocates for, so I was thrilled to be asked to sit on the panel as well to represent what we do in the Lanier School Cluster within Gwinnett County Public Schools. If so inclined, check out the video above, and consider finding a way to get out to Napa for the Patterns of Innovation conference in March. I’ll be there as a presenter. I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow panelist there as well!

GCTE Preview: See You in Athens!


The Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE) conference in Athens, GA is in just a few short weeks, and this year feels particularly special since I have so many of my colleagues presenting this year too. I cannot entirely pinpoint why I wanted to ensure more of the ELA teachers at my school presented this year, but I know part of the inspiration came from the stellar work they were doing. I have always, no matter the setting, worked with phenomenal ELA teachers. My current school is no exception, so when the time came, I sent an email encouraging several of my compatriots to submit a proposal. Thankfully, most all accepted the challenge, submitted a proposal, and were accepted! In today’s post, I will preview many of the presentations/workshops my colleagues and I will be showing on the weekend of February 9 and 10 as well as why you should check them out! For anyone interested, it is not too late to go to GCTE this year. Go here for conference information. Continue reading