Tag: life lessons

A former student returns to talk about_______.


As I’m packing up my bag to go home for the day, a former student is suddenly framed in my classroom door. “Mr. Armstrong!” We smile, hug, sit down, and a few minutes into the visit the former student clears their throat and says, “Can I ask you something?” “Sure.” “Do you think about ______.” […]

The Hard Work of Happiness


The Hard Work of Happiness On a recent cold, wind-snapped morning I asked class of college-bound high school seniors a simple question. What brings you happiness? (I know…a dicey question to ask a bunch of bored 17 year olds). Their answers were both surprisingly PG and unsurprisingly boring: Sleep, Saturday, my bed, Netflix, my dog…because all […]

What good advice do you fail to take?


The other day I asked my students, “What good advice do you fail to take?” The answers ranged from “don’t procrastinate” to “live in the moment” to “eat vegetables” to “don’t sweat the small stuff” to “get more sleep.” My students, high school seniors, are primed for advice. Fresh-faced, wide-eyed, eager, energetic, and ready to […]

The Scary Work of Rewriting Yourself


The Scary Work of Rewriting Yourself This week, two years ago, I wrote The Day I Learned I Could No Longer Jump ( or learning to fly). It was my first story piece published in a publication (Generations). The story is one of the greatest leaps personal and writing leaps I ever took. Any writer […]

Cartwheels and Writing


Cartwheels and Writing Haley is writing a story for school. A fractured fairy-tale. Her narrator is the Queen of Hearts, the villain in Alice in Wonderland telling the untold story of how Alice is the real villain of wonderland. I’m impressed. For 5 pages she keeps the story cohesive, free of plot holes, and plump […]

Can poetry save lives?


Can poetry save lives? I’ve been entertaining the question: Can poetry save lives? Here’s why: At the start of the school year my 12th grade students made it clear they knew very little poetry. They knew of Edgar Allan Poe, Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss. Yet when I pressed their poetry knowledge they stared at […]

The Happy Place


The Happy Place The other day I heard someone say they can’t wait to leave here and get to their happy place. “Where is your happy place?” I asked. “A beach far away from here.” We all want to change how we feel. However, we convince ourselves that the good feelings we seek are out […]

My wife (and Bill Belichick) taught me something this week


My wife (and Bill Belichick) taught me something this week This school year has been a change for both Cindy and our children. The children started at a new school and, after 17 years at one school, Cindy moved on and accepted a teaching position at a new school. The children have transitioned nicely. They’re […]

Perspective: To grow in soul


Perspective: To grow in soul The speaker of Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Man He Killed” is a soldier who recalls killing an enemy soldier and realizes had they met under different circumstances they would probably share a drink and a story or two. The speaker hesitates, repeats himself, talks in circles as he tries to […]

It’s the response that matters


It’s the response that matters It was a tradition of sorts. In the initial months following my diagnosis, after each doctor’s appointment, I would go to the bar Given my deteriorating health, a few pints, and a plate of fried pickles was not the most constructive response, but sometimes nothing soothes a fractured soul like the […]