Category: Teaching

This One Simple Tool Will Make You a More Effective Writing Teacher


Teenagers are notorious for their lack of attention and internal busyness– especially in a classroom. They live in a chronic state of unawareness and have a cantankerous yearning to be somewhere else. “I want to go to sleep.” “I want to go home.” “I’m starving, when’s lunch?” And in these modern times of computers and […]

The Power of a Conversation: A Recap of the 2017 Spring Write-a-Thon


Never underestimate the power of a little conversation. The Write-a-Thon grew its roots in 2015, during a little conversation between my school district’s (Robbinsville, New Jersey) Superintendent, Dr. Steven Mayer and myself. The crux of the conversation was, “How can we teach teenagers to see writing as an exercise in self-discovery and authenticity not just a […]

When Former Students Die: A Teacher’s Reflection


If you teach long enough you’ll come to learn that the human story never graduates. I last saw him 11 years ago. Waiting for the graduation procession to begin, under that shadow of his squared cap, tassel dangling about his face, he smiled and said, “Mr. Armstrong, can you believe it, they’re actually letting me graduate!” I smiled, “Yeah, […]

Playing School (or why I still want to be a teacher)-Guest Post


Playing School (or why I still want to be a teacher) is guest post written by  Julianne Frascella. Julianne is currently a 12th grade student in my AP Literature class at Robbinsville High School (NJ). She will be attending The College of New Jersey in September 2017. It was like we were playing school. Except, […]

Teaching Students the Power of Vulnerability


This week’s post was inspired by Teacher Appreciation Week. It takes more courage and less time to admit you don’t have the answer then to pretend you do. For most aspiring teachers, writing a Philosophy of Education is not only a requirement, but a pedagogical rite of passage. I remember, 15 years ago, in the swarms of […]

3 Strategies You Need to Know When Teaching Writing to Teenagers


Teenagers often swagger into an English classroom with a fixed mindset. A mindset of either: 1. I’m not good at writing and never will be. or 2. I’ve always earned high marks in English and past rubrics indicate I’ve achieved mastery in writing. My experiences have shown me that though it’s difficult to transform a fixed […]

A Message of Hope For All Those Stressed-out Teachers


The other day I felt that familiar hot streak of panic rush through my chest as I stared down a mound of ungraded assignments, as a slew of unanswered emails festered in my inbox, as the guidance department requested a meeting for that “special” student. To all those stressed-out teachers… I feel you. Make no mistake, […]

What’s the point of school?


As I was packing up my desk on the last day before winter break a former student knocked on my classroom door. “Mr. Armstrong!” “M!” For the next few minutes, M and I did the former teacher/student small talk thing. After we covered such topics as about the weirdness of walking down the old high […]