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Ariel Sacks

  • Queens, NY, US
  • The Renaissance Charter School
  • English / Language Arts | 8th, 9th
  • Teaching for 11 years

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"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms." ~Muriel Rukeyser, American poet The Life of Poetry

I've been teaching middle school English Language Arts in NYC public schools for 11 years. I'm all about implementing constructivist, developmentally meaningful curriculum and methods in classrooms with diverse learners. I'm the author of Whole Novels for the Whole Class: A Student Centered Approach, recently published through Jossey Bass: I believe that we can only teach students to be critical thinkers if we, their teachers, are engaged in critical thinking and dialogue about our practices and their impact on students. After several years in the classroom, I realized that the field of teaching was not well set up to support critical thinking and collaboration among teachers. That's when I got involved with CTQ, where I've been able to take steps to envision and create the teaching profession we want and need. I was a co-author of Teaching 2030, where I helped to develop the concept of the teacherpreneur. I write regularly about teaching and education policy on my CTQ blog, On the Shoulders of Giants.

Professional experience

My current job title: 

8th & 9th Grade English Teacher


The Renaissance Charter School

City / town: 


State, province, or region: 

New York


United States

My school would best be described as: 

public charter

Percentage of students at my school who qualify for the federal free/reduced lunch program: 

51 to 75%

Years (including this school year) I have been a classroom teacher: 


Years (including this school year) I have worked in education: 


Name of my union or association: 

American Federation of Teachers (or one of its local/state affiliates)

Professional organizations: 


Education and preparation

University or other program that initially prepared me to teach: 

Bank Street College of Education

I was initially prepared to teach in this type of program: 

Graduate program

I took part in a subsequent preparation program of this type: 

Alternative certification program

College/university degrees: 

Masters in Middle School General Education from Bank Street College; Bachelor of Arts in English from Brown University

State certifications, endorsements, or licenses: 

NY State Professional Certification to teach English grades 5-9


Leadership roles I play or have played: 

Author of a publication about teaching
Conference speaker or panelist
Interviewee or panelist for the media
Mentor of new teachers
Curriculum developer beyond my classroom
Department chair or team leader
Provider of school-based PD
Supervisor of student teacher(s)

Education interests and goals

One positive change I hope to see in our schools: 

If I could walk into 100 random classrooms across the country at any moment and hear students' voices in at least 50, I would be very happy about the change.

What I’m learning about now: 

I'm in the middle of reading the most fascinating book about how readers develop. It's called Becoming a Reader: The Experience of Fiction from Childhood to Adulthood by psychologist and former English teacher, J.A. Appleyard, who conducted research out of Boston College. 

I'm also reading The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation, by fellow Collaboratory member, Elena Aguilar, who has a wonderful understanding of teachers and approach toward coaching. (Recommend!)

I'm staring at the cover of Daniel Pink's latest book, To Sell is Human, which I plan to start reading soon. I'm interested in his ideas about how selling is something everyone does, not just people in "business" and how this connects to teacher leadership or teacherpreneurism.

My current leadership goal: 

I have written a book about an innovative method for teaching literature, called Whole Novels for the Whole Class, and it will be published in October 2013!  I wrote it in part because writing allows me to take apart and really examine my own thinking and practices in a way that is so rewarding; I also wrote it because I believe this method really works for kids and I want to inspire others to try it.  My current leadership goal is to think about how I can share the book and the method in a way that would be immediately helpful and practical for teachers, while encouraging teachers to make it their own and see that there is so much space to innovate within the method. In other words, I want to make whole novels teacher-leader-friendly :)

I would be very interested in a hybrid role that allowed me to: 

1-continue teaching middle school English

2-work with other teachers to design curriculum and methods that support student learning

3-work with school leaders to create or modify school structures to create a stronger learning community, that supports teaching, learning, and the spread of expertise

4-share what's working in my own context with other education leaders and work to overcome obstacles to transforming education

Posts (0)

Blogs (301)

CTQ Blogger: On the Shoulders of Giants



  • Blogger

Ariel’s Connections