thank you, mr. banks

“My whole life, I’ve just wanted to make people better.” – Ernie Banks, 2013, after being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Yesterday, back in Chicago, they paid tribute to the life of Mr. Ernie Banks. Since he died of a heart attack on Friday January 23rd, I’ve struggled to explain to myself and to others why his passing has saddened me in the way that it has. It’s true, I’ve been a fan of the Chicago Cubs since my first memories, but I was born the year before Mr. Banks retired, which is to say that I have no memory of watching him play. [Read more…]


alice munro: patience and patterns

This month I’m reading Alice Munro’s (1998) The Love of a Good Woman. Ever since Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2013, I knew that I wanted to spend 2014 reading her stories and trying to understand how they work. Each month I’ll read a different Munro collection, and then write a bit in order to see if I can figure out what makes her writing so strong and compelling to me. These posts won’t be short or final; instead, they’ll track my thinking about the kind of moves I think she makes as a writer. [Read more…]


educators’ voices: some responses to sandy hook

In “Our Stories Matter Because We Matter: Thoughts on the Power of Our Voices” Brene Brown writes, “The truth is that in the midst of tragedy nothing matters more than our stories. Our complex, nuanced stories are the path to healing and change. They are the truth and there’s no better foundation for change than the truth.” It’s in this spirit of sharing stories, of sharing our reflections and responses, that I offer a quick round-up of educators’ thoughts and voices on last Friday’s events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. [Read more…]


on fear, failure, and falling short

It’s true that a parent once looked at me during a parent/teacher conference and said, “My son just needs to be inspired. My high school teacher used to jump on his desk and celebrate our ‘A’s. Can you just do that for my son?”

“Ma’am,” I said. “The problem isn’t that your son needs me to inspire him. It’s that he’s a afraid to do anything, because he doesn’t want to do it wrong.” [Read more…]


nwp annual meeting & ncte annual convention ’12 in las vegas: a roundup of reflections

This year’s convention for the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) was held in Las Vegas. Below is a roundup of some blog posts from educators who attended the conference. I’ll add more as I run across them. [Read more…]