Penn State York Summer Institute – Home/Registration is Open!

I am so excited to join Chris Lehman, Kristin Ziemke, and other amazing colleagues during the week of June 22nd at the Penn State York Summer Institute. I’ll be there on Friday to share some of my ideas and to learn alongside you. I hope you can join us!

Penn State York Summer Institute

Source: Penn State York Summer Institute – Home/Registration is Open!

The Next Part of My Journey: Living the Questions


And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

For past year, I have been on an incredible journey meeting readers of Thrive from all over the country. When I wrote the book, I could not have imagined the response that it has received. Now that I have met so many of Thrive’s readers, I can honestly say that this work belongs to all the teachers who have made it their own: the teacher in Missouri who said that she is now working to bring her students’ work to new audiences because of Thrive; the teacher in Wisconsin who quietly told me that he’s ready to reimagine his classroom practice because he knows what’s been happening is not helping his students; the teacher from Kentucky who sent me a Facebook message to say that reading this book kept her from quitting her job after Christmas break; the educators who have started book study groups for Thrive and designed professional development work around it. As I wrote in the book, I am humbled to be on this journey with you all.

Now, I’d like to invite you to join me on the next stage of my journey.

In July, I will join the Gates Foundation for a two-year assignment as a Teaching Fellow. I am excited about this change, which will give me opportunities to bring the ideas I wrote about in Thrive and the lessons I’ve learned from all of you to more educators, as well as to partners who are in a position to help teachers to excel and thrive in the profession.

As exciting as this change is, it is bittersweet. For the past four years, I have had an amazing opportunity to work alongside brilliant and inspiring educators at Science Leadership Academy. The lessons I have learned from Chris Lehmann and the faculty and students at SLA will stay with me always. I am better prepared to envision the type of education all of our students need because I had a chance to teach in this incredible environment. I have also been blessed to have spent four years with my advisory students and their families, and I am grateful for the ways in which they have welcomed me into their lives. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for each of my soon-to-be-graduated advisees.

In my new role at the Gates Foundation, I’ll take the heartbeat of the work I learned to love at SLA with me. I’ll have the chance to carry the conversation about excellence in teaching and learning that began at SLA and grew through the publication of Thrive, to teachers all over the country. I’ll be a voice for teachers, raising issues that everyone is thinking about but no one is talking about. I’ll help build local and national networks to help teachers learn with and from each other. I’ll be celebrating and recognizing teachers, visiting classrooms to observe and support the excellent work with students.

I’ll also have a new opportunity: the chance to help inform the foundation’s decisions about funding and policies. And I’ll be doing it all with the perspective of someone who has gotten up every school-day morning for the past decade to teach the students of Philadelphia, someone who has heard from so many teachers about their stories and struggles. I will do my best to carry your voices and experiences with me in the work ahead.

As I make this transition in my life, I’ll continue to share my thinking at and to keep the conversation going via Twitter (@meenoorami). I’ll also continue present and speak at various conferences and events. I hope that you’ll follow my adventures and stay connected. The importance of your role in my life—as mentors, as friends, as colleagues—cannot be overstated. I need to hear from you now more than ever.

Of course, there’s a level of uncertainty in all of this. All change is hard, but I am moving forward with a heart filled with gratitude and a mind open to new questions. I’ll keep the poet Rilke’s words close by in the coming months, as I live the questions now.

Connected Learning: Empowering Students and Engaging Teachers



Starting on April 14th, I’ll be leading a three part webinar series offered by Heinemann. Here is the brief description of each of the part:

  • Tuesday, April 14, 2015 Session 1 from 4:00-5:15 pm:

Participants will learn how connected educators empower their students’ learning. Witness stories and examples from classrooms around the country and learn how these educators are making learning meaningful for their students every day.

  • Tuesday, April 21, 2015 Session 2 from 4:00-5:15 pm:

Participants will learn about the various social media tools and online communities that are fostering teacher engagement and collaboration. In this session, we will also brainstorm ways we can engage our school community, parents, and students through these channels.

  • Tuesday, April 28, 2015 Session 3 from 4:00-5:15 pm:

Participants will have a chance to form their connected learning plan and think about the ways they can take what they have learned in this webinar and apply it to the rest of the school year. They will also receive guidance and support with identifying specific communities of interest to join after the webinar is over.

My ultimate hope that through this webinar, we will build another online network of support for one and other and the participants in these webinar sessions will stay connected long after the series is over. Instead of just talking about the benefits of having a robust network of colleagues to tap into, some of the participants might even start their own local face-to-face or online networks for colleagues in their schools or districts. Ultimately, the goal is to apply all of this work to improving our students’ learning experience. To bring the joy, passion, and curiosity that we hope that all our students would embody. I hope you’ll join in and if you’d like more information, you can find it here. Thanks and hope to see you soon! Let’s have some fun together this April.



Congratulations to Nancie Atwell! #teacherprize

I am joining the chorus of many admirers and those who have learned from Nancie Atwell as she accepts the Global Teacher Prize for her life’s work on behalf of students and teachers everywhere.  I loved what she said about what she hopes this prize will do:



A few years ago at the NCTE conference, Nancie and I were speaking at the same event and she saw me briefly address the audience. As I walked back to my seat next to her, she said to me, “you’re going places kid, way to go!” That unabashed moment of encouragement has stayed with me till this day. Thank you for inspiring countless number of teachers like me with your work. Thank you Nancie!



Learning in DC at #TLconf2015

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On March 14th, I have the pleasure of joining teachers from across the country for the Teaching and Learning Conference in Washington DC. I will be presenting a Deeper Learning session where I’ll be sharing some of the ideas I’ve gathered from my classroom practice.

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I hope that you’ll stop by and say hi if you plan on being there. I’ll also be doing a book signing right after my session. Looking forward to a weekend of learning in DC!

Coming back & Poetry of Mary Oliver in the classroom

The last time I posted an entry on this blog, the school year was about to start, and I was giddy with the excitement of another school year.

It is now the beginning of March and even though, I have continued to journal, write alongside my students, this blog has mostly remained unchanged since that first day of school.

Perhaps because I am now teaching my Storytelling class to my seniors and having a blast with them, or maybe because finally the urge to write, to think, to share has overpowered my hesitations, I am finally here and am posting this entry.

In my Storytelling class, we started with personal memoirs and have since turned towards poetry. Yesterday we started class with Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese” and gave my students a chance to play with language, I want to acknowledge the creativity and originality of two my students. We started by listening to a reading by the poet of

“Wild Geese”

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Then I asked my students to choose one line from the poem and write their own poem to it. I did the same exercise alongside my students.

Then my students shared their poems, their play with language out loud. Here are two responses that stood out to me.

Kenyatta B. wrote:

You do not have to be good

That’s a lie, you have to be the best

You have to work, work, work and work some more

They lie to you everyday and say life isn’t a competition but it is

You do not have to be good

You have to be the best


Bryanna J. shared:

In the family of things

you await your turn

patiently in the presence of your peers you are chosen 

to be an individual amongst the masses

They didn’t tell you that it was going to be hard, 

Nor did they tell you to be patient 

but you have been all along.

How is your writing going? What kind of writing are you doing with your students?

Returning to City Year for a Day


I started my post-college career by securing my first job as a staff member at City Year in Philadelphia. City Year’s work is aimed is all about helping students reach their full potential.

At City Year, we partner with public schools in high-poverty communities to help bridge the gap between what students need and what schools are designed to provide. In doing so, we’re helping students reach their full potential and make it to graduation in communities all across America.

This opportunity afforded me the look inside Philadelphia schools and the nudge I needed to get my teaching certificate and begin my journey. Last week, I had the opportunity to return to my first community and share my experience as a high school teacher. I spoke to corps member (Americorps volunteers) about the ways they can find inroads when tutoring and mentoring high school students. The experience and feedback was amazing and I am grateful for the opportunity. I hope I get to continue to stay involved with the organization that helped me get started on my journey as a teacher.

Many thanks to Michelle, Kellie, Sean, Jim, and other City Year leadership members who worked to get out to Boston last week.

In Conversation with Teachers from University of Southern Maine

I had the pleasure of “meeting” teachers from the University of Southern Maine via my online connection with Susan Dee. These participants had read Chapter 4 of Thrive and had collected their responses and questions in this google doc.

It was an invigorating discussion for me because their questions were honest, hard, and went beyond the platitudes that teachers often get. I hope I did justice to their inquiry and special thanks to Susan and other participants for their invitation into their learning community. If you want to check out our conversation from this morning, you can do so here:

Some of the questions we tackled together include:

What advice would you give to people who feel like they have never had any great role models for long periods of time (either as mentor teachers or colleagues) for teaching their specific subject. (For me, French) I feel like I’ve seen examples of what is not the greatest but not necessarily what is the greatest.

If teachers are supposed to show vulnerability, then how can we earn the respect of our students? Students will often test the boundaries of the rules early on, so how can we deal with this, while still showing an appropriate amount of vulnerability?

When I began teaching, I had a really hard time even finding a personal “voice” to listen to amid the noise of all that newness. Do you have any recommendations for first identifying one’s voice and sense of place within the structure and the complex personal relationships of the school system?

Start of @TheEdCollab – Congrats Chris!

I wanted to take a moment and congratulate my friend and colleague Chris Lehman as he embarks on a new adventure. If you missed his BIG annoucement yesterday, you can view it here:

This announcement leads me to wonder and seek feedback from you:

What kinds of services would you want from this group?

How do you think we can work together to best support teachers across the country?

What is a need in school that maybe speakers/consultants are not currently filling?

I am honored and humbled to be asked to join this work and I look forward to connecting with you soon! Many thanks for reading this post.