• October 2022

    Teach Peace

    Teach Peace By Lisa Catterall One exercise we had to do was to use a long list of “invisible privileges” to rate ourselves and our own privilege. It was painful on an empathetic level, and for me, as a woman, and as a person who identifies as bisexual, on a very direct level as well. Many of the privileges on the list are ones that I didn’t have due to one or both of those statuses in my own life. Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do… nothing to kill or die for –John Lennon At the beginning of this year, our administration announced that the school would…

  • August 2022

    School Begins

    Rocks By Lisa Catterall Today, I finally remembered the rocks. Then I looked at my classroom and the way I had suddenly made my messy creative space neat as a pin, and I reflected on how I’d never stressed neatness so much with my students as I had in these first few days. This world’s anguish is no different from the love we insist on holding back.-Aberjhani Getting my classroom ready It’s almost there; the posters are up and supplies organized, but there is one thing I haven’t done yet. Do you know what it is? I haven’t placed a basket of fist-sized rocks in the front by where I…

  • April 2022

    A Glimpse Through the Keyhole

    A Glimpse Through the Keyhole Fake News, Free Press and Education By Lisa Catterall …the only path to lasting global peace will be education, of the unbiased sort that provides a scaffolding for the soul, a habit of critical thought, a passion for truth, and the humility to keep on learning for a lifetime. With guns you can kill terrorists. With education you can kill terrorism.– Malala Yousafzai Yesterday a friend of mine showed me an image of a train station in Poland that had baby strollers lined up across the station platform. The strollers were loaded with bottles, blankets, diapers, and supplies. Mothers in the town in Poland knew…

  • March 2022

    Teacher’s Desk

    Roots and Wings By Lisa Catterall Children make your life important. — Erma Bombeck I’m staring at a dresser covered with dirty glasses. They have rings of dried and yellowed milk, encrusted smoothie droplets, and they are sitting on top of a stack of plates, some with pizza crusts hanging out. All that goes through my mind this time is a meme my best friend sent me. It said “If you don’t like their messy room, wait until their room is empty…” My best friend has always been one academic year ahead of me in the parenting game, from the time our kids met at age nine months (mine) and…

  • February 2022

    The World is Knocking

    The World is Knocking By Lisa Catterall He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.– Friedrich Nietzsche This week I had the pleasure of teaching in a true N95 mask for the first time. Due to the current escapades of our favorite evil little spike protein, my school thoughtfully gave the teachers each a precious, high-grade mask. I feel cared for and protected, and I also feel as if an anvil is smashing my face all day long.The mask muffles my voice. Many years ago, I got laryngitis but wasn’t ill, and I came to school and taught in silence. It worked oddly well; I can…

  • January 2022

    Empowering Youth

    Empowering Youth and Addressing Bullying From Bystander to Upstander By Jessica Zovar In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember walking the halls as a timid sixth grader, hearing unkind words directed toward others echoing off the walls, and fearful that standing up for myself or others against hurtful words could have major implications. Let’s be honest; middle school is not always the friendliest of landscapes. Often the dreamy-eyed wonder of childhood is waning, identities are on shaky ground and youth yearn for belonging and acceptance from their peers.  As a licensed marriage and…

  • October 2021

    Technology Engineering and Art

    The Educational Needs of This Generation Technology, Engineering and Art By Lisa Catterall Art is a universal human language. Direct connections exist between how much art students learn and their success in all academic subjects and as members of communities. Our schools will improve if they deliver quality arts education to all students. The students deserve nothing less. – James S. Catterall My office just became host to a tray of smiling, blinking robotic bees happily keeping me company as I prepare for my classes. I met my first graders today and their teacher introduced me as their “makers teacher,” and I said, “Oh no, these bees are going to…

  • September 2021

    Leap of Faith

    A Leap of Faith By Lisa Catterall To all parents and caregivers starting the school year with special needs kids and waiting with hope, fear, faith, and some worry that it just can’t possibly work out, I feel you. “Some of the most wonderful people are the ones that don’t fit into boxes.”–Tori Amos Forever burned into my memory is the image I saw this week, of my daughter holding the hand of another little girl and her teacher, walking away from me through the open gates of her new school. I just turned around and started sobbing. My entire family and extended family were there, and all of them,…

  • August 2021

    Back in Person

    Back to In-Person by lisa catteral There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.– Margaret Wheatley This summer, I’ve been teaching in a program where I feel compelled to state up front, every day, at the beginning of class, with great passion, my honoring and inclusion of BIPOC and LBGTQIA+ students. I say it a little differently every time so that it doesn’t become too redundant, but I am simply relentless about stating it clearly, daily, every single time. It’s become an ingrained part of my teaching practice. There are so many ways in which a culture or society insists on change in…

  • May 2021

    Joy Blossoms

    A Place for Joy to Blossom By Lisa Catterall I wonder why, when parents choose schools for their kids, they don’t ask students at the school whether they experience happiness in class every day? “The joy in learning is as indispensable in study as breathing is in running.” – Simone Weil Anything that enters a human brain through the senses passes through a simple triage process. Standing at the triage station is the amygdala, and it has three modes: “Danger – run away!” is one; “Happy happy joy joy!” is another; and the third is simply “neutral.” When the amygdala senses danger, every other brain function funnels energy into running…