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Red Pen Reflections

Brianna Crowley

September 15, 2016

Why I left a profession that I love


After teaching in a high school classroom for 9 years, I left. Not because I didn’t still love teaching, and not because I didn’t have a vibrant classroom where students wanted to be. Not because I still didn’t feel like there were 1 million things to try and 3 million lessons my students still had to teach me.

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Brianna Crowley

May 11, 2016

Building VLCs? Start with the why.


People aren’t convinced by what you do in a virtual space (i.e. moderate Twitter chats, participate in online discussion threads, write blogs); they are convinced by why you do it. The goal is not to build a virtual learning community with everybody who has something to offer you; the goal is to build a virtual learning community with people who believe what you believe.

How does this shift your paradigm about virtual learning communities?

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Brianna Crowley

November 19, 2015

To Revolutionize PD, Administrators Should Follow This Simple Rule: Think Like a Teacher


At the end of last school year, an assistant principal commented: "Sometimes I forget the power of seeing myself as teacher. That is where I feel strongest, where I do my best work." We were engaged in a conversation about how professional learning had been organized for our building. I shared critical feedback from a teacher perspective, and in return, she shared the administrative perspective on how the schedule was created and how teachers were organized. At the end of the exchange, however, she also shared this powerful reflection: to do her best work, she wanted to re-frame her role as a teacher first, administrator second. 


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Brianna Crowley

October 29, 2015

Like the Sweater You Shrunk in the Wash


Our education system often feels like a dearly-loved sweater that has shrunk in the wash. In my daily life as a classroom teacher, so many aspects of the system feel like they don't fit, and are growing increasingly more uncomfortable. Here are the areas that I feel are constricting my daily effort to serve students and elevate authentic learning.


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Brianna Crowley

June 24, 2015

How Can We Help All Students Pass The Marshmallow Test?


Recently I read Walter Mischel’s The Marshmallow Test. As a mother, Mischel’s insight on the nature versus nurture debate was compelling. As a woman in my thirties, the techniques he suggests for financial planning was helpful. However, as a middle school English teacher, this book was a catalyst for my own professional growth. I didn’t read this book for professional development purposes, but I began making connections to my classroom and my school. Eventually I came to one overarching question: Why don’t we teach kids how their brains work?

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Brianna Crowley

March 5, 2015

Grading: A Duct-Taped System? Students Weigh In.


This post is the second in a series of posts challenging the traditional 100-point grading system and exploring alternatives. In my last post, I discussed some event leading me to deeply question the role of grades in my classroom. In the week since then, a vibrant conversation has ensued both in the comments section as well as in blog posts from fellow colleagues who I list below.

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