There will always be outliers; this much is true, so I don’t pretend to believe that what I am going to share here is going to work for every kid. However, I do think, as a whole, we do ourselves and our students a disservice when we, explicitly or implicitly, conceptualize specific students as just “being lazy.” …

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Nine seconds. That is the average attention span of a goldfish. They will stare through the glass at the goofy fish face you are making, or work on their aquatic acrobats, or explore the underwater castle in their tank… for nine seconds. And then they move on.

The average attention span of a teenager is similar… eight seconds. Yes, that’s correct. “According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds in 2013.” Of course, teenagers are not goldfish. …

The dreaded blinking cursor. It stares at you, mocking you relentlessly, and unlike you, it doesn’t tire, relent, or need a break. It just keeps taunting you. And then it happens, a glimmer of hope as you feverishly pound the keys, aggressively attempting to articulate what has been swirling around in your mind for hours now — only to delete it just as rapidly, losing to the evil blinking cursor once again.

Anyone who has had a writing deadline, be it for high school, college, grad school, a writing contract, or anything else, has experienced this seemingly never-winnable battle. …

**this blog first appeared on my old Blogger site in 2014

Last November, after returning from the NCTE and CEL National Conventions, I wrote a piece called Teaching Literacy in 140 Characters. In it I argued that we, as educators, must start to teach writing in the Twitter space, and, if we don’t, we are not only ignoring the future but actually ignoring the present reality of our students and world. However, when I wrote that piece, I had not fully immersed my students and class in the digital world that is Twitter, but now over a year later, I am here to share all that I learned from actually teaching my students to write for Twitter and using it on a daily basis for my class (check us out at #bronke2nd) each student had his/her own Twitter account for class). So, here are my top five takeaways. …

“This is a simple story but not an easy one to tell. Like a fable, there is sorrow, and like a fable, it is full of wonder and happiness”
Cerami and Benigni

The power of a great story can never be underestimated. As co-director and writing coach for the National Blogging Collaborative, I have had the distinct honor to work with teacher writers from all over the country, and one common trend when teachers begin to think about creating a blog or writing a blog post is that they worry, “no one will want to hear what I have to say.” To this I always respond, “You are right; they don’t, but they would love to hear your story.” …

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I recently reconnected with a high school friend that I had not seen in about ten years. Towards the end of the evening, as we were getting ready to leave, she looked at me and said, “You know, Chris, you really haven’t changed one bit.” I am going to, for the sake of my own ego, take that as a good thing; however, it got me thinking. Of course that is a phrase overused by those who have not seen one another in quite sometime, and she probably didn’t mean it as literally as I took it. …

I have recently been thinking about the amount of time I spend working on my writing. For each blog I publish, pages of scribbles, nonsense, rubbish, and incoherent ramblings are produced. I go through multiple revisions, each draft more perfectly crafted (or at least I think) in one area while still frustratingly weak in another. I ask others to preview pieces and provide feedback on the work (sometimes painfully so), and finally, I am able to hit “publish” on the piece — only to read it and realize I still don’t like this word or that sentence.

While many people may call this the textbook definition of insanity, I call it the perfect balance of painful struggle and blissful excitement. However, a colleague and I were talking about blogging the other day, and he admitted he just didn’t see the purpose, wondering why, in a time when our jobs already have us booked beyond anything that remotely resembles a “40-hour work week”, I would go out of my way to work more writing this blog. In that moment, I stumbled to clearly articulate why I do this, but I knew that writing about it would help me crystallize my belief in the power of blogging. So, consider this my meta-blog…the blog to help me realize why I blog. …

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Until we start to see WHO sits in these desks, we cannot truly deliver the WHAT or the HOW

Not once in over four years. Sure, I thought about it, considered it, even started to plan it—many times, but despite my best intentions, it never happened.

Perhaps I have been ashamed to admit it? Maybe I used time as an excuse? Or perhaps the landscape of education truly has prevented it? The reality is, like so much else, it is probably a combination of many factors that has prevented from me from planning any, not one minute, professional learning revolving around WHO we teach.

I would try to do the math, but it is too overwhelming; however, a conservative estimate is that in four plus years of being the department chair for 23 teachers, I have probably planned around 40 hours of department meetings, 50 hours of institute days, 100 hours of workshop time, and overseen 80 hours of PLC work, and not one time in all of that did I push our focus to the kids. …

I failed.

27 out of 28 sounds great…but what about that one and all of “that ones” in the past…?

I sat there, agonizing pit in my stomach, emotions volatile and corrosive, as a tear slowly burned its way down my face. I could not believe that I allowed this to happen. And if this student had the courage to share this so tactfully, how many others have felt this way and never shared it? The tears multiplied as I attempted to navigate this feedback.

The question: “what else do you think Mr. …

This has been one of the hardest pieces I have ever written (and I have openly tackled race and discrimination in education more than once — as a white, middle-class male working in a fairly affluent, mostly white school). I have started and stopped it more times than I care to recall, each time destined to failure by my own guilt of hypocrisy and/or fear of unintended offenses to colleagues and friends about whom I care and respect deeply; however, I finally decided that this piece needed to be written, if for no other reason than my own consciousness and mental well-being. So let me preface this by saying a few truths. First, I know fair well that I have been, and probably will continue to be, hopefully unconsciously, part of that which I am about to criticize. Second, to anyone who “sees” themselves in this proclamation, please know that it was not written specifically about you and/or meant to offend anyone. …


Christopher Bronke

TEACHER, writer, HS Eng Dept. Chair | social learning specialist | @natblogcollab co-director & writing trainer/coach | National Presenter |

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