This must change. This is not the way to create readers.

Photo by Abdrahim Oulfakir on Unsplash

The traditional way of using books in a class is this: the teacher chooses a book and assigns it to all students. Students read a certain number of pages per night and then take reading check quizzes when they arrive back in class in a day or two. At the end of the book, some sort of essay, test, or project is assigned. And the truth is, probably only a quarter of students actually read the whole book, maybe a few more, if you’re lucky.

This must change. This is not the way to create readers.

Even at the college…

Advice from the experts

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There’s a bunch of things you don’t go into teaching for: the barrage of emails that bark for replies, grading and entering grades, hallway or bus loop duty, chaperoning a school function in the evening, and of course — one of the worst: proctoring. But there’s one thing that is considered worst of the worst for most teachers because it hits you where it hurts: the angry-parent-nasty-gram — the email or voicemail message that says, “Teacher, you suck,” and then goes on to tell you exactly what you suck at and how badly, in their opinion.

I got one of…

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Many parents, administrators, and teachers have been quick to write off remote learning, hoping to get back to “normal” as soon as possible.

But that hasn’t been the experience of all teachers. For some, the experience of teaching remotely has been rewarding, engaging, and stimulating — for them and for their students.

“There’s a lot of talk out there that students can’t learn remotely. And it’s false.” — Mike, a 100% remote teacher in his sixth year

With all of the flak that remote learning has gotten, I wondered: Have teachers received adequate training or been able to share and…

Back to School: Is the Time Right to Return to 100% In-Person?

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Is now the right time to open schools at the secondary level? I didn’t know how to feel about it. So I decided to ask the experts — the ones who would know best. I decided to ask a handful of my teacher-mom friends, some of the smartest women I know.

Meet Annie, Beth, Carrie, Donna, Ellie, and Frances. Each woman is (or has been) an educator in a public school — their total experience combined adds up to 109 years in schools. Each one is a mom of school-aged children. Each one is a smart, thoughtful, caring, well-educated woman…

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Recently, a group of teachers at Mandalay Middle, a school located in the suburbs of Denver, CO, declared that they would only work contract hours. It was a form of protest, meant to highlight the lack of teacher say in decision-making by higher ups on issues like working conditions under COVID-19 and in support of bargaining.

Pictures on Facebook showed a group of 15–20 teachers standing outside of the school entrance, waiting in the cold for the official start of the school day, before heading inside.

But it begs the question: How is working only the hours you are being…

Let’s Not Lose Time to Standardized Testing

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As a teacher, my motto has always been this: I want school to be better for them than it was for me. And so as I strove to design learning in my classroom, starting with determining which skills are absolutely necessary for students to master in a given school year, I created learning experiences that had value — every activity, every reading, every discussion, every test or quiz — had a purpose.

Here we are in February of 2021, and the annual season of state standardized testing is looming. These tests, designed, it would seem, to gauge if our instruction…

Let’s stop wasting our precious money and time with students on standardized testing

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It’s that time of year again in my children’s school district when parents must make their choice as to which schools to attend. I am a strong advocate for neighborhood public schools, and yet, this year my thoughts have strayed somewhat, musing on other options for my kids.

Why, you might ask? It’s not because of the teachers or the administration. It’s hardly because of ugly debate that continues to rage between in-person, hybrid, and remote options. …

By Cindy Shapiro

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Building leadership is the single-most important factor in a school’s success. It is also what makes the difference between teachers opening their doors and participating in a true learning community or closing their doors and shutting out the noise. The principal creates the atmosphere, sets the vision for professional learning, and is the key ingredient in the culture of a school.

I knew she would give me the space to be creative and innovative in the classroom, and that she would respect me, as a professional.

Throughout my teaching career, I’ve been fortunate to have a small handful of good…

Education can be better — and here’s one way we can do it

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Now is the time to consider how we want things to grow in education — that’s right, grow — when the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

Going back to “normal” would be a damned shame. “Normal” is too much sit-and-get. “Normal” is a lot of seat time, but that doesn’t mean that our students are there mentally. It means worksheets and textbooks, and a lot of call-and-response rather than open dialogue. “Normal” just means students are there in body, and not necessarily in mind.

Many schools and districts attempted to incorporate a hybrid model this year, to keep class sizes small. The…

It’s okay to feel sad

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I was sad this morning.

Nothing in particular had happened, and there wasn’t anything wrong, really. At least, not on the surface. But I just felt off.

As I looked out my window at the snow flying sideways, the sky a continuous sheet of gray, I thought, But why?

Rather than sit around and mope about it or go back to bed in defeat, I decided to take action. Here is what I did:

I exercised. Knowing that I was already in a low mood, and not wanting to give myself a reason to continue beating up on myself, I…

Cindy Shapiro

Cindy Shapiro is long-time teacher living in Colorado. As founder of Teacher Says, a podcast and website ( she aims to elevate teachers’ voices.

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