Mr. Dillman’s Fairy Garden

Mr. Dillman’s Fairy Garden

Walking into Kurt Dillman’s classroom is anything but ordinary; in fact, it is quite extraordinary. Mr. Dillman, the ToK (Theory of Knowledge) teacher at Ronald Reagan IB high school, has created a world populated by fairies, fountains, and fancy within his classroom. Measuring the size of four ping-pong tables, the garden all but overtakes Mr. Dillman’s room. But the students aren’t complaining; pushing the desks a little closer gives room to a fairy world that many students have never experienced: tranquil fountains, an afternoon swing or walks along a pebbled path. But, in Kurt Dillman’s classroom, that world is available to experience and imagine.

10 Suggestions for the First Day Back

Many of us go back to work this week after enjoying some rest and relaxation. We hope our students had the same opportunity to relax with family and friends; but, unfortunately the sad reality is that many of our students will come back to us exhausted and anxious. As a result, we have to be ready for what they need and deliver it with empathy and compassion.

Here are some suggestions for the first day back. Please feel free to revise and modify for what your students need.

Effective Classroom Strategies Based on Successful PD

Imagine if some of the best practices of professional development workshops were transferred to the classroom? As a regional and national speaker, I create presentations focusing on literacy skill-building meant to support teachers in all content areas. What might it look like to transfer those pertinent workshop skills to the classroom?

Here are five foundational suggestions to create a simple, significant and sensible classroom.

Memoirs from a Groupie

In February I attended the Wisconsin State Reading Association Convention, and had the honor of introducing Sam Bennett.  Truth be told, I was at the November Leadership Meeting in Stevens Point and they were looking for introducers.  I noticed Sam’s name still had a space for an introducer.  I bowled three people over to get to that sheet of paper and write my name in that space!

Vocabulary by Mom

I think my mother, Jean, always envisioned herself as a writer.  She wrote for her high school newspaper, “The Patriot,” and was the star editor in ’45.  She understood the significance of a strong vocabulary and how words could persuade, shape or change attitudes, emotions and values.

However, the death of her father and the necessity of work did not allow my mom to pursue her hope of a writing career. 

We’ve Only Just Begun!

We often think of ‘retraining’ as something mature workers have to do to stay employed.  Their careers have come to a crossroads: get retrained or get fired.

Yet, retraining is not just for the veteran worker anymore.  In addition, it doesn’t have to be a dismal fork-in-the-road event, either.  Retraining or relearning can give any professional the opportunity to reinvent his/her skills and share those skills with a brave and brand new world!

Parents, We Teachers Really Want to Work with You!

I wrote this article almost 9 years ago (reprinted with permission from JSOnline, August 27, 2005), and I believe it is just as timely now as it was then.  With Common Core, standards based grading and an onslaught of new initiatives, I hope you feel this advice is practical for everyone involved in education!

This is an exciting, almost anxious time as your son or daughter enters high school or begins another year of academia.

To Market, To Market . . . and Who Do You Know?

Let’s face it, teacher’s really aren’t very good at marketing themselves.  As a matter of fact, “marketing” is usually done in the business industry; selling products and services, not an educator’s expertise or knowledge.

However, in the current world of education, that has changed. Most recently, I’ve changed my current reality and created a new one.  Okay, I quit my job and got another one.  But, instead of a lateral move, it was all about the marketing and networking.

Let me explain . . . .