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Career Teacher

Justin Minkel

March 28, 2017

Go far together: Lessons in collective leadership


I learned the power of collective leadership in 2007, when I met 50 Teachers of the Year for the first time. Since then, I've learned a few lessons about collective leadership: First, collective leadership takes time. And, at its heart, collective leadership is collective teaching. In this post I explore learned truths about the importance of collective leadership as educators. 

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Justin Minkel

May 31, 2015

What did you learn this year?


Teachers have the gift of a summer to renew ourselves after the exhaustion of the school year. It's a time for rest, but it’s also a time for reflection. What did you teach this year? What did you learn? My top three are about balance--between work and family, teaching and teacher leadership, and teaching separate reading skills vs. giving kids time to actually read. I'd love to hear your own end-of-the-year reflections.





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Justin Minkel

April 26, 2015

Students matter. Teachers, not so much.


When advocating for policies to better meet students’ needs, teacher leaders can’t afford to bury our lead: the students. We need to explain how the changes we advocate will improve learning outcomes for students, not just working conditions for teachers. If we fail to make that case, we’ll never see the changes our students need.

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Justin Minkel

April 11, 2015

Squished like a grape: Does teacher leadership hurt your teaching?


Of all humanity’s wisdom, most has been spoken in some form by Mr. Miyagi of The Karate Kid. Take the following:

“Walk on left side of road, safe. Walk on right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later, get squished just like grape.”

Teacher leaders know the perils of the hybrid path better than anyone. One stumble and you just might manage to alienate colleagues with the left foot, anger administrators with the right. You also might find yourself progressing as a teacher leader while stagnating as a classroom teacher.

Teacher leaders, how do you keep improving as a teacher while developing as a leader? How do you make the time it takes to do both?

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Justin Minkel

March 21, 2015

What It Takes


How do you think the following story ends?

A six-year-old child is sexually assaulted by her stepfather. Her mother is not literate, and her family lives in poverty. She suffers both physical and psychological problems from the abuse she endured. She experiences a psychotic episode in third grade and is sent to a facility an hour’s drive from her town.

Four years later, here is the same girl:

She is confident and happy. She is considering a career as a police officer, though her mom thinks she should become a nurse, and her teacher thinks she should be a doctor. She plans to go to college.

How did this child get from there to here? How did she write a new story for her life?

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Justin Minkel

February 8, 2015

Burning Bright Without Burning Out


When my wife and I were going through childbirth classes, the instructor said something fascinating.

“There are two kinds of pain. The first is objective: the amount of pain your nerve receptors will receive. The second is subjective—the way you experience the pain. The two variables that most impact the experience of pain are isolation and lack of control.”

There’s a powerful lesson for teachers in those words.

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