have been meaning to write this letter for a long time! It is a letter
that I feel is long overdue and with the elves getting all ready for my
long ride, I finally found the time! I have been watching teachers for
many years and I am amazed at the work they do. I have come to a
conclusion that the teaching profession, like my own, must be filled
with bits of magic! Please let me provide ten statements of evidence
for my belief.
I travel the world one night of the year visiting all the boys and
girls of the world. The teaching profession works with every boy and
girl all year long. This equates to each teacher fulfilling educational
needs for 30 – 200 children each and every school day. Seems like magic
I deliver presents to all the boys and girls. From my Toy Repair Shop
statistics I find many of these gifts are broken or no longer garner a
child’s interest within months! Yet teachers find inner gifts in every
child. Teachers nurture these inner gifts until they develop into true
presents that will last a lifetime. These kinds of gifts sure seem like
magic to me!
I keep my naughty and nice list for every child. Some people believe
this job is pretty amazing! Yet when I look at the teaching profession,
teachers provide a constant evaluation of all their students! Their list
covers all the aspects of developing and learning which they report to
children’s parents and to the children themselves! This evaluation is
based on a wide variety of observations, data, and student performance.
Teachers will then use this list to help improve each and every
student! Wow, keeping track of every student’s ability and prescribing
ways to be successful must really be magic!
I leave presents to students who are on the nice list and who believe
in me. Teachers work with all children because they believe in every
student. Teachers continue to do so, even when students stop believing
in the educational system’s ability to help them achieve. That type of
persistence has got to be magic!
I have operated my workshop using the same technology for hundreds of
years and it has worked for me. Then again, I work with children when
they are asleep, delivering presents in my own way. Teachers work with
children when they are awake and they have spent time learning how to
engage children using googles, blogs, phlogs, glogs, prezis, and all
these other words I really don’t know! Being able to teach, transform,
and accommodate for this new digital generation must really be magic!
I have made it a practice to leave coal behind for children who do not
make my good list! It seems every year the same children always get the
coal. Teachers refuse to leave coal, in fact, they are working hard at
leaving no child behind. To work towards a goal of leaving no child
behind is a true act of magic!
I read the news and I am always so thankful to read all the nice
articles about my work. It really does provide me with motivation to
keep up my vocation. I read news articles about the education profession
and it seems that most articles are unsupportive. Yet, teachers keep
working hard at providing success for their students! These teachers
must be operating on a little bit of magic!
I have thousands of elves, of course the reindeer, and the community
of the entire North Pole to assist me. Teachers work every day, many
times by themselves, as they provide new opportunities for their
students! Carrying that load alone must be much heavier than my bag of
toys. It must really be magic!
I receive many a thank you and millions of pictures of happy faces as
children open their presents each year. Teachers don’t always get the
thank yous, or may never see the present get eventually opened. When
they do, appreciation may come from decades later! A thank you that
appears after many years must be the result of pure magic!
I discovered a light in Rudolph brightens up a dark, foggy, or snowy
night so that I can deliver joy to all the children across the world.
Teachers provide the light that brightens our world in both the darkest
night and brightest day! It is the light of learning and knowledge! The
ability to keep that light burning bright must take a quite a bit of
see, I have found that magic does not come easily! It is made possible
only by those who work hard and keep believing, and seek what they know
is possible! As you can see, there must be a great deal of magic in the
education profession! Please continue to keep this magic alive and know
that you are all on my good list! After all, I had to learn all that I
do from somewhere! So from across the years I know I have many teachers
to thank! Last, to all teachers across the world… I really do believe
Thanks for all the magic,
hope you enjoyed this very special message from Santa. Please take a
moment to share this letter with other educators across the world. It
will truly help bring out the magic in our profession! Please accept my
present to you, which is another year of postings by subscribing at 21centuryedtech. Feel free to follow me on Twitter (mjgormans).
Photo Credit: Chie Yu Lin, courtesy of Pardis Sabeti
Brothers David, right, and Yakir, left, Reshef developed the new
statistical tools under the guidance of professors from Harvard
University and the Broad Institute.
It is an unusual starting point for a high-profile paper in a leading
science journal: Two brothers, students a year apart at universities
down the Charles River from one another, decide to work together on a
summer project. The research unfolds through ideas scribbled on the
walls of a laboratory, insights gained during downtime working as an
emergency medical technician, and brainstorms shared at a fraternity
house in Boston.
Yesterday, the influential journal Science published the fruits of
that labor: the creation of a powerful computer program that rapidly
flags patterns and identifies correlations in huge databases, from
sports statistics to online social networks to the genomes being churned
out by science laboratories.
While it is rare for two brothers in their mid-20s to share credit as
the lead authors of a paper, the achievement demonstrates how
creativity often arises from the back-and-forth of a team, in this case,
David and Yakir Reshef, who have been collaborating since childhood.
“I think, in some sense, David and I have been
roping each other into things for our entire lives,’’ said Yakir, 24 and
a Fulbright scholar at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
The summer after his senior year at MIT, David began working with
Pardis Sabeti, a biologist at the Broad Institute who had an interest
in global health. David was developing an approach to sift through
large, international health data sets, highlighting potential
relationships between demographic information and the incidence of
infectious diseases, such as cholera or HIV.
“We just wanted a simple way to figure out what was in the data
sets,’’ said David, 25, who is pursuing a dual degree in the Harvard-MIT
Division of Health Sciences and Technology. “At first we thought we
would go find some methods that existed. It turned out to be a much more
complicated question to answer.’’
As the amount of data that comes out of the lab increases, so does
the time it takes to analyze it. Yakir Reshef and his
brother David and have developed an algorithm that will allow
researchers to comb through vast amounts of data to find results they
may not have otherwise noticed.
TriColumbia, the Mid-Atlantic’s premier endurance event production
company, partnered with WLMS to provide
triathlon instruction during physical education classes in an effort to
educate students on the experience and lifestyle benefits of triathlon.
The partnership was formalized with an official signing on September 28
at Wilde Lake Middle School in Columbia, Md. Above are pictures of our students beginning the training process.
Because of this partnership, 15 triathlon bikes have been donated to the school and our students have gained access to use the Columbia Aquatic Center to enhance their swimming skills. Thanks to TriColumbia for their support and to our amazing PE teachers Ms. Middleton and Mr. Tiffany!
The Howard County Council honored WLMS math teacher, Karen Stiller this past Monday evening for being selected Maryland's Outstanding Mathematics Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics! I want to thank Council Member Mary Kay Sigaty and the entire Council for helping to make this special recognition possible for our amazing math teacher. Way to go Karen!
In 2010, Maryland was one of the first states to adopt the Common Core Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts. As a result of this decision, major changes to the state's curricula and assessments are beginning to take shape. One of the biggest changes is the emphasis on disciplinary literacy.
What is Disciplinary Literacy?
Disciplinary Literacy is defined by Shanahan and Shanahan (2008) as advanced literacy instruction embedded within content-areas. Disciplinary Literacy instruction engages learners with content in ways that mirror what scientists and mathematicians do to inquire and gain understanding in their disciplines.
Consequently, it has become important to review how Howard County middle schools are currently structured and determine whether changes are needed to to deliver the new state curricula for all of our students. This past week, a proposal was presented to the Board of Education that opens an important dialog about middle level education here in our community.
We know the Common Core Standards require students to be fluent thinkers, readers, and writers within the context of a variety of disciplines. Students will need to be able to read, analyze, and respond in writing to complex texts in a variety of subjects. This will require them to be familiar with the vocabulary, compositional style, and particular
structure of texts from all content subjects, as well as the larger perspectives, modes of thinking, and forms of evidence embodied in such texts. The demands of the standards will also be reflected on the new assessments, which will replace the MSA's during the 2014-2015 school year.
Currently, Howard County middle schools provide a stand alone reading class for all students. This practice has served our students very well for more than a decade. In fact, Howard County middle school students have ranked at the top or near the top in reading as assessed by the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) each and every year this state testing program has existed. However, the Common Core makes it necessary
to move away from teaching reading skills in isolation from content and
towards infusing literacy into all disciplines. In doing so, the program will move closer to providing students with the skills, knowledge, and confidence they will need to be successful in high
school and in a variety of educational and career contexts.
While basic reading skills were a foundation of the MSA, the Common Core raises the bar and requires students to use higher level reading skills outlined in disciplinary literacy. Therefore, to help our students meet the rigorous demands of the new curriculum as well as the PARCC assessments which align to the standards, it is important that we restructure the middle school program of study here in Howard County. This includes the elimination of reading as a stand alone course and providing time for content teachers to begin to address the concepts found in disciplinary literacy.
As part of the restructuring, we hope to include world language classes for 6th graders, extending access to physical education, and providing additional assistance for students who need more instruction in mathematics and/or literacy. We will continue to provide direct reading supports for those students who are reading below grade level.
The time for change is now!
Source: Howard County Public Schools Middle School Report, 2011
I continue to learn many lessons in the middle! I have learned that middle school teachers are some of the most amazing people I know. I have learned that despite the widely held belief that public schools in America are not succeeding, I see children working hard and meeting rigorous academic standards on a daily basis. I have learned that if I were to be accused of a crime (I hope this will never be the case), I want a jury comprised of 7th and 8th graders. Without question, students in these two grades believe deeply in fairness and justice for all. I have learned that creating positive relationships with students, staff and parents is the key to success. I have learned that being a middle school educator allows me to have a front row seat to witness some pretty hilarious situations as well as those issues that are very sensitive and often life altering.
As a veteran middle level leader, I can say that I have the best job in the world. I have the opportunity to touch lives, teach valuable life lessons, plant seeds of hope, develop innovative programs and sip from the fountain of youth on a daily basis. Often, I have been told by my friends that I should write a book about my experiences. Since I don't have a lot of spare time these days, I have decided to BLOG instead. I hope to share various experiences, opinions and beliefs on a regular basis (probably less than regular basis).
If my writings should be of interest to you, I hope you will drop me a comment or two in the appropriate place. In this era of being able to reach the entire world through the world wide web, I am counting on the fact that I will attract a few comments.
I am the Instructional Director of Middle Schools in Frederick County Maryland. From 1987-2012, I served in various roles in the Howard County Public School System, including: teacher, team leader, assistant principal and Principal. In 2007, I was awarded the Washington Post’s Distinguished Educational Leadership Award/Howard County Principal of the Year and most recently I received the 2008 Howard County Outstanding Technology Leader in Education Award. I am a member of two boards: Past President of the University of Maryland’s College of Education Alumni Board and the McDaniel College’s Teacher Education Advisory Board. In 2008, I started teaching one of the Intro to School Administration classes at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland.
I am a life-long Washington Redskin fan and I love to root against the Cowboys. I am also an avid blogger.
But most importantly, I am the proud father of two wonderful and amazing kids! I am also fortunate to have a very supportive wife who also happens to be my best friend.
I am always excited to share and collaborate! I have been asked to present to students, teachers, parents and leaders in the educational world and beyond. As both a trainer and a keynote presenter, I have had the opportunity to deliver workshops on topics like:
Leadership Engaging the Millennial Learner Leading from the Middle School Improvement Made Easy (Well Sort Of…) High Impact PD
Some of the organizations I have had the privilege to work with are: Iksan City Public Schools, South Korea University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland McDaniel College, Westminster, Maryland Michigan City Public Schools, Michigan City, Indiana National Middle School Association MSET/MICCA NECC/ISTE Montgomery County Department of Recreation, Rockville, Maryland Maryland Association of Student Councils
For more information about these programs and others I can offer, please email me at email@example.com
This is a personal blog. The views represented herein are that of the blogger, and do not represent the views of the blogger's employer(s). Furthermore, the views expressed herein should not be imputed to any volunteer boards or other community associations to which the blogger may belong. Comments presented on these pages may be attributable to outside users. If you have questions or concerns about this blog, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!