The seeds of this site were planted on an afternoon about a decade ago. I was sitting at my desk, staring at the nearly six inches of slightly crumpled student essays clasped together with oversized clips, all waiting for response. In my head I planned for how I would handle the load: Brew some extra coffee and grade late into the night most evenings for the next couple weeks. Have at least three or four Sunday-No-Fun-Days, where I exchanged a day off for working through the stack. Probably sneak some essays into the stands to grade during my wife’s hockey games and grade a few more in the waiting room as my car got an over-needed oil change. Trade lunch breaks for wolfing down a soup or sandwich with one hand while the other works through a couple more papers. And most likely burn a personal day plodding through the rest at a coffee shop before the quarter grades are due.
It was my 3rd year of teaching. This wasn’t my first time staring down a stack of writing that size, but for some reason this pile of papers came with a sudden realization: I couldn’t live like this much longer. I deeply loved being a teacher, but the seemingly never-ending papers in need of feedback and grades acted as a great many straws about to break this camel’s back. Further, with each evening and weekend they ate up, they formed a more and more serious impediment to my ability to be a decent and present partner, friend, and human.
Over the next three years, the pressing paper load–combined with a frustration that my students never seemed to grow as much or as fast as I’d like–caused me to quit teaching not once, but twice. But each time I returned because in short no other job could offer the meaning, impact, and joy I got from teaching.
When I reentered the classroom a second time though, I knew something had to be different. I needed to find a balance between two non-negotiables: I had to find a way to work less and yet also find a way to help my students do more.
This site is a record of my pursuit of that question of how we can balance teaching–and especially the teaching of writing and huge stacks of papers that come with it–with the other important roles we play in their lives. Included in it are is my bi-weekly newsletter, which explores and unpacks this question each week and provides the latest research and practices on how to improve instruction while delivering it in less time; my articles of the week from inspirational teachers and thought-leaders pursuing the same question; and resources aimed helping writing teachers find better balance.
My hope is that I can help you to be a better teacher and a better parent, partner, friend, and family member to all those in your life.
More About Me
My work has been published by Principal Leadership, Edutopia, ASCD, National Writing Project, and Norton. I have also written a book for new teachers from Rowman & Littlefield and have a book about providing better, faster feedback to students from Corwin Literacy called Flash Feedback: Responding to Student Writers Better and Faster–Without Burning Out due out in March 2020.