With the winter holiday season rapidly approaching, students everywhere are counting down the days until they can stuff their textbooks into their lockers and not think about them until “next year.” It probably goes without saying that a lot of teachers are doing the same thing. Though the thought of taking some much needed time off is a great comfort, many teachers also use their break time to grade and plan. Here are a few ways in which you can best prepare for and make the most of your much deserved winter vacation time.


I recently posed a question to all of my teacher friends as to what websites and apps they use in their classrooms. I was blown away by the responses I received; I couldn't believe the number of free, quality, and readily available resources out there for the taking. However, the downside is that it can be overwhelming to navigate all of these websites and apps, and with precious little free time to dedicate to that kind of research, many teachers are often unaware of these potential gold mines. But fear not, for I have done the legwork for you! Here are the top 10 websites and top 5 apps I discovered after sifting through the seemingly endless list of resources.

In the first installment of this piece, Teacher Burnout: Feeling the Burn, I shared with you several reasons why teacher burnout is so prevalent in the United States. But all hope is not lost! In this piece, you will discover ways in which you can prevent and reverse teacher burnout. Some of these methods will require you to shake up your routine and forge unknown paths. Then again, that might be precisely what you need. 

I began teaching in 2004. Before the start of the school year, the administration held a staff meeting. I remember sitting in awe as the principal recognized teachers beginning their 25th, 30th, and 35th years. That’s going to be me some day! I thought to myself, swelling with pride at the thought of standing up and receiving my round of applause after so many years of service. Twelve years later, I walked out of my classroom on the last teacher workday of the school year, a box nestled under my arm containing a few binders and tokens from students over the years. I set the box in my trunk, turned back to the building, and heaved a huge sigh of relief. I was done teaching—forever. No recognition. No applause. Just me standing alone in the June sunlight taking it all in one last time. 

District common assessments are a critical dimension of effective instruction. Common assessments provide specific information on each student's performance on standards and reveal what we should spend time on instructionally. The term "common assessment" may have an ambiguous meaning because it is often used interchangeably with other related terms such as formative assessments, district created assessments, and summative assessments among others. It will be helpful to clarify these terms.

No one is more invested in student data management than district technology administrators. Am I right, tech directors, tech coordinators? After all, you are the folks who maintain this data and often spend countless hours gathering and disseminating valuable data points to teachers, principals, curriculum directors, counselors, and superintendents.

The Class of 2018 finally has clarity for what they need to do to graduate. After a great deal of debate in educational and legislative circles over the past year, new pathways to graduation are now official for seniors beginning this fall. Governor John Kasich signed Ohio's state budget in late June, approving the state school board’s recommendations. Before the approval of the budget, this year's seniors had the following graduation alternatives available to them:    

Wyoming City Schools, serving just under 2000 students, proves that small districts can achieve big results. Not only was their superintendent, Dr. Susan Lang, named the 2017 Ohio Superintendent of the Year for being an exemplary educational leader and innovator, but the district has also been regularly recognized at the state and national level for academic excellence.

Under Dr. Lang’s tenure, Wyoming City Schools has earned top rankings in US News & World Reports, the Washington Post and numerous national and statewide competitions. However, Dr. Lang attributes much of the district’s celebrated accomplishments to the school community, where stakeholders are committed to education and the whole-child learning experience.

We sat down with Dr. Lang to ask her about her career, her leadership style, and the “Wyoming Way” school culture.  

Teaching is one of the noblest professions known to man that brings many challenges and benefits. One of the attractive benefits of being a teacher, beyond the love of working with young people, is the opportunity to have time in the summer to pursue other interests, hobbies and pastimes. Moreover, the summer is also an extremely valuable time for educators to immerse themselves in various activities to position themselves and their students for an outstanding school year. Below are 15 of the best measures teachers can take during the summer that will pay off in time and efficiency.

In an earlier blog, I highlighted a number of important proposals in Ohio's plan submitted to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) for compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) spent over a year gathering input from stakeholders across the state via webinars and face-to-face regional meetings with educators, parents and interested citizens. After compiling the results and reporting the subsequent plan that Ohio prepared to submit to the federal government, the backlash took place. Many who participated in the feedback sessions complained that they were not heard or that their thoughts were not incorporated into the final plan. Consequently, State Superintendent of Instruction Dr. Paolo DeMaria decided to withhold Ohio's submission until the end of September to "...allow more time to review statewide testing and other issues before finishing the plan."

Preparing Kids for State Tests: Less Time Than We Think!

All fifty states in the country are required to administer state assessments at the end of the school year to comply with the accountability measures laid out by the federal government. For example, all states MUST test students in English Language Arts (ELA) and math every year in grades 3-8 and also in social studies and science two times within that grade band. In addition, all states must require state tests in math and English at least one time in high school. Logically, schools want as many instructional days as possible to prepare their students for these high stakes tests that have serious implications for students, parents, buildings and districts across the United States. Given the traditional school calendar, school should be able to count on 180 days of instruction to prepare kids, right? Well, for numerous reasons, schools rarely, if ever, have even one student in attendance ready for instruction for 180 school days. In fact, when we look at all of the factors involved, the typical student is likely in their seat and available for instruction anywhere from 140 to 150 days every school year. Let's take a look at why.