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CTQ bloggers write about transforming teaching. Share their posts and chime in!


Between Passion and Possibility: Creating My Dream School

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You never know when your possibilities will unveil themselves to you. I’ve told children that for 17 years. In January, I began to live my own.


An Opportunity to Share My Voice


Los Angeles high school student Maria Urquilla describes what a class trip to Washington D.C. taught her about the importance of student voice.


Why Every School Needs to Require Tandem Bike Riding


One of the major benefits of marrying a teacher is the fact that we share a summer schedule. This summer, our schedule found us on Sanibel Island, FL. My husband, Paul, had mentioned riding a tandem bike on several occasions, and given that the number of bikes matched the number of people on the island, we went with the “why-not-today” philosophy.

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Ariel Sacks

June 29, 2014

Teaching Poetry, Whole-Novels Style: Creating An Immersion Experience For Students


CONCEPT: Just like in whole novel studies, experience is of primary importance in the study of poetry. Too often, students receive the message in their English classes that poetry exists to be analyzed.  They learn terms, strategies and complicated acronyms to remember them--all in the service of solving a “poem-problem” with, what they understand is supposed to be a clear answer.  As a reader, scholar and writer of poetry, I can say with confidence that poems are not built for a formulated analysis and rarely come with clear answers!  I think the vast majority of English teachers would agree with me on this; yet sometimes, in effort to reach standards and keep kids on track, common classroom methods still push students into the understanding that we read poetry to analyze and arrive at a specific outcome.    

If not analysis or a specific outcome, then what characterizes the experience of poetry?

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Justin Minkel

June 29, 2014



The kindergartner had gotten lost and ended up in the 2nd grade wing. She looked around at all the big kids, a little bewildered but not quite scared as of yet. Then she spotted me standing outside my classroom door and her face broke into a radiant smile. She walked up to me, arms outstretched, and gave me a hug.

That little girl had no idea who I was. But she knew I was a teacher, and in her a mind a teacher is someone you can trust to take care of you.

That trust is a gift. Earning it lies at the heart of our profession.


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Rod Powell

June 26, 2014

Teachers vs. Policy makers: From Showdown to Rapprochement


I love the French language. It has so many phrases and words that seem to capture moments in ways that English can’t. C’est l’avie, Je varrais, L’etat c’est moi (Louis XIV references—forgive me, I’m a history teacher). They all have deeper meanings than my North Carolina dialect can conjure up.

But there’s one French word in particular that captures my recent experience at the National Conference of State Legislatures' “Leading the Way to Student Success” conference: rapprochement.

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Mark Sandy

June 24, 2014

What could U.S. schools look like if students and teachers trusted one another?


I recently had the opportunity to attend the Oppi festival in Helsinki, Finland with several colleagues from the U.S. education community. Our mission: find out what makes the Finnish school system so effective and explore what practices might be adapted for our schools back home.

During our time in Finland, we got the chance to visit several schools and speak to students, teachers, and administrators about their experiences. After the trip, the phrase that resonated most in my thoughts was: “Relationships are key.”

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Justin Minkel

June 22, 2014

A Great First Date with Marriage Potential: Legislators and Teachers Get to Know One Another


Teachers and legislators have plenty of first dates. What we need is more marriages.

We've all experienced those one-off meetings that are a trading of monologues rather than true dialogue. Lawmakers deliver pre-crafted talking points, teachers speak truth to power without worrying whether power listens; meeting adjourned. Last week I experienced a welcome exception to that script, when five teachers from CTQ met with 30 Education Chairs for two days of debate, dialogue, and a shattering of stereotypes.

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