Call Them by the One They Choose

Names can be tricky. In my first year of teaching, I was at a school comprised of two populations: White students from what remained of the pastoral horse ranches of Davie, FL, and Hispanic students who came to us from the encroaching tide of Fort Lauderdale, housed largely in sprawling trailer parks bordered on one side by 595. In my classes, I had Ashleys, Matts, and Christines, mingled with Jaimes, Jorges, and Biancas. There was tension in the school — many of the parents of white kids from the horse ranches felt they…

What to buy when your furry friends are taking over

By Cindy Shapiro

Like many other families, at the start of the pandemic, we adopted a dog. We already had two, but when we saw a picture of our Hunny Pot, a sweet bulldog mix, we couldn’t let her go. It took all of a day of fostering her for us to sign the papers making her officially ours.

Then, the Christmas season came. I had always sworn up and down that we would never, ever give a dog as a present, but COVID. (Isn’t it funny how the pandemic upended so many “rules” that many of us had ascribed…

And why wouldn’t you want other teachers to use your ideas?

I’ll never understand why some teachers are so resistant to sharing their work. I’ve heard things like, “But I spent all of that time making it. Why should I just give it to someone else to use?” And “But they [the other teacher] didn’t help me create this — why should they get to use it?” And “Why should that other teacher get credit for my work if they didn’t make it?” Or “If they don’t pay for me it, I’m not sharing.”

Of all of the excuses above…

It could make all the difference

By Cindy Shapiro

My very first year of teaching, I was asked if I could be an assistant coach for our school’s cheerleading squad. I answered before my filter could intervene: “Dear Lord, never, absolutely not.”

Clearly, I didn’t understand the importance of cheerleaders at that time.

Fast forward twenty years, to this past Saturday, when I was driving my daughter to her very first swim meet. She was complaining that she didn’t know her swim buddy, and she didn’t see the point of cheering for someone she barely knew.

I said, “When you cheer for someone, you can give…

A top-10 guide guaranteed to help you grow in your teaching practice.

Every teacher has heard this joke:

What are three reasons why teachers teach?

Answer: June, July, and August

There is no doubt that summer is an important time for teachers — it’s a time to recharge, reconnect with family, and have some fun. But that doesn’t mean that teachers stop working. In fact, many teachers continue some form of work during the summer, whether it’s summer school, designing lessons for the upcoming school year, or spending time catching up on professional reading through book studies. In fact, according to The Brookings Institute, “teachers work 21.5 hours per week during the…

And what it takes to get teachers to stay

Recently, I saw a teacher’s post on Facebook that she was leaving. Oh no, not another great one, I thought to myself. And that’s what prompted a new question that I posed to my teacher-friends:

Teacher-friends, if you are seriously considering leaving teaching at the end of this school year, will you send me a PM and tell me what factors led to your decision? And for everyone: What are some things that are making you stay at your job next year? What makes it worthwhile to you, to continue?

Seeing teachers choose to move on is nothing new. This…

A Rumination on Grief

A robin’s nest tumbled to the ground last spring. It had been raining for days, in a way that it never rains out west. For days, the baby robins had been enduring the cold, relentless rain as their parents shepherded worms to their hungry beaks. The parents flew back and forth like the bob of a pendulum from the yard up to the support beams under the deck, where the baby birds were nestled. Back and forth they flew as the cold rain came down at a slant, hard drops drumming on the windows. Then the rain fell perpendicular from…

Tips from teachers to help you get the job you want.

It’s funny how 30 minutes can determine your life’s path for years to come. But that’s the power of the interview: you have 30 minutes with a committee to answer their questions, and based on how you answer, you will either be selected as the candidate they want, or you will get a “thank you for your time.”

Most people dread interviews the way they dread going to a repeat dentist visit to have a cavity drilled. But instead of approaching the interview with fear and trepidation, try to think of each interview as a learning experience; you can grow…

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

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

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…

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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